The Importance of a Public Relations Class

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Image via Ann Davis 773

I decided to take Intro to Public Relations because I tend to be a really shy person and I know that when I graduate in only a few weeks I’ll need to be able to put myself out there and be able to market myself. I didn’t know what to expect from a Public Relations course but I can tell you that what I have learned is nothing like what I thought. I have learned much more in this course than I have in most of the classes I have taken here at Indiana State University. I feel more prepared for my future and I feel confident in communicating through many different social media’s. Before I began this class I didn’t have a LinkedIn profile and I honestly didn’t think it was all that important. Since then I have connected with so many people and have created a professional image for myself which will be extremely beneficial when I begin working full time as a Realtor.

Not only have I benefited with social media, but I have gained leadership skills. With the Public Relations Campaign group project I have had to step out of my comfort zone and call and email people that I don’t know. My generation has learned to hide behind text messaging and talking to people in person has become very difficult. I feel that I have stepped up professionally because I am trying to support an important non profit that can benefit from what my group can do. I’ve realized that this isn’t a project that can be taken lightly because those who support it take it very seriously.

I only regret not taking Intro to Public Relations earlier in college. If I had taken it last semester then I would have had the time to build up my social media presence even more but I am thankful to have learned as much as I have before I graduate. In college you generally take classes that teach you things that you are unsure of how you will apply it to your future. This course has prepared me for real life situations unlike any other class that I have taken. If you’re reading this and you are considering taking a course in Public Relations, I can promise you that although there may be a little more homework than some of your other courses, you will benefit from this class for quite some time!

You’re invited to ‘Su’s Anal Bum Party’

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Photo Via Twitter

I doubt that you really want to attend Su’s Anal Bum Party, but you might actually be interested in Susan’s Album Party instead. Susan Boyle’s PR manager was probably disappointed in his choice to broadcast Susan’s album release after seeing the response to #susanalbumparty. Is was meant to be read as #SusanAlbumParty but as many of the twitter users saw it, they obviously began making jokes about the Anal Bum party. I admit that I laughed pretty hard when I found this on the internet. I hadn’t seen it at the time that the album was released but found it online later. After realizing the pornographic mistake that they had made, the hashtag was quickly changed to #SusanBoyleAlbumParty. The hashtag didn’t gain publicity for nearly a month. It wasn’t until some younger male tweeters saw the fail that it really started gaining publicity.

Some of my favorite Anal Bum party tweets:

Curious Badger @BadgerCurious 22 Nov  “I went to a #susanalbumparty once. I saw things. Terrible things.”

Obi ian Kenobi@obi_ian_kenobi 23 Nov “Spaces make a difference susanalbumparty – susan album party therapistfinder – therapist finder whoreviews – who reviews”

Tessa Coates@TessaCoates 21 Nov All I’m saying is that no one knew Susan Boyle had an album coming out and now we all know…#cynic #susanalbumparty”

The latter of the three suggests that maybe this was a publicity stunt for Susan Boyle. She does make a good point that no one had really known that she was about to release a new album, but after this twitter fail a lot more people knew. It’s still regarded as one of the best hashtag fails of all time and if you search hashtag fail it’s usually placed as the #1 fail. I think that the the PR professionals working for Susan knew what they were doing and created a lot of laughs and possibly a better selling album.

Domino’s Dishes Out a Crisis

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Photo via D. Sharon Pruitt

You’ve most likely seen the viral video, two Domino’s employees got bored at work and decided to do some pranks and record them. It’s pretty gross, especially when the guy puts a piece of cheese up his nose and then on a sandwich that is meant for delivery. Yuck. If you haven’t seen the video, you can watch the news casting from the Today Show here. Obviously since the video became so popular, this was a crisis for Domino’s. I mean, who would want to eat there after that? This became a huge issue for Domino’s as they struggled to regain their customers that they’d lost from this event. Domino’s President released this video in response to the issue which promises its customers that they are still a great company who takes pride in their food. He explains the steps that the company is taking in order to ensure that all locations are extremely clean as well as creating a better process for hiring higher quality employees.

Before they even started to talk to their consumers, Domino’s started researching to find out where the video came from and understand what was going on. It turns out that the employees weren’t receiving calls at the time so the food didn’t actually go out to customers, but it was still a damaging video that they needed to address to the public. The company was in the process of starting up their social media and had planned to implement it one week after they had discovered the video. The crisis made the pizza chain jump into their twitter and Youtube accounts a bit earlier than they had intended. Although it was new for them, they reacted promptly and correctly. I think that with the release of the video and responding to concerned customers on social media, they were able to silence some of the criticism. Since then, they have released new marketing tools and design which has boosted their sales. While they may not be the most popular chain, they were able to keep their company strong and have been able to grow in the past few years.

How to Write a Press Release Worth Reading

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Photo Via just.Luc

I remember the first time someone in college told me that they had to write a press release. I thought to myself that it sounded somewhat strange for a college student to do. This person has since graduated college and he now uses press releases quite often in his career. They almost seem like a thing of the past, but honestly, being able to write a press release is what could stand between your success in gaining publicity or never being heard of at all. So I did a little research on how to write a press release that can get you noticed and here’s what I’ve gathered from my findings:

1. Zach Cutler recommends  that you intrigue your audience by coming up with a good headline. If you want journalists to notice your work then you’re going to need to show them something that sticks out from the rest. They probably receive numerous emails asking for them to review their press release, but one with a good headline is likely to grab their attention and improve your chances on actually getting it out there.

2. Cutler also recommends keeping the press release to no more than 2 pages although 1 page is best. It’s important to get to the point in your very first paragraph because many people will only read the first sentence and then skim through the rest. Strategically place the most important information in the beginning with the following paragraphs supporting the information in the first.

3. One of the tips I’ve discovered was from columnist MG Seigler, as interviewed by Raven who recommended persistence. Just because a journalist looks past your first few press releases doesn’t mean that you should stop trying. Sometimes there are things in the news that are more newsworthy and timing is important. So don’t give up even if you feel like you’re not getting through.

I hope that these tips will help you to write a good press release in the future and maybe I’ll even be hearing about you in the news!

Chatting with Bloggers

Tonight I joined in on a twitter chat with the hashtag #blogchat started by Mack Collier which discussed how to create content for a niche audience. Some of the questions that he started off with were “How do you create content for a niche audience & how is that content diff from a wider audience? Special considerations?” and “If you are creating content for a niche audience, do you simply need to have a better understanding of that niche? More?” Most of the tweeters participating were bloggers and before the chat began they posted links to their blogs. So the first advantage I can see about Twitter Chats is that you are able to publicize your blogs or other social media to all of those participating.

I started off the chat with a simple introduction of myself and letting them know that this is my first twitter chat. I was welcomed and immediately gained a follower and one of the tweeters tagged me in a tweet recommending for others to follow me. I was surprised that people were so welcoming of someone they don’t know and were willing to give me publicity.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect so I sat back for a few minutes and watched the chat begin. I realized that almost all of the people in the chat were bloggers and were quite experienced. They had some great advice on how to get the right people to your blog page. One good recommendation that I saw was “broad categories, specific tags” – @patricksplace.

After this Public Relations class I will continue on with blogging about Real Estate in Indianapolis. So what I would like to know more about is just how to build my niche and follower base  as well.  I hope that anyone who’s reading this is inspired to go and join in on a twitter chat. They are really informative and can help you gain followers as well! I definitely recommend the #blogchat that I did tonight. They do twitter chats every Sunday at 9pm!

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Photo Via MKHMarketing

Country Fried Racism

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Photo Via Compfight

We all know Paula Deen, that older woman we see on TV that reminds us of our Grandma cooking up sugary, buttery, sweets. I even have one of her cookbooks from which I’ve made some recipes for my family that they all love. My parents have went to her restaurant, The Lady and Son’s, in Georgia and enjoyed her meals. She seems like an All-American woman who got lucky enough to become famous for clogging arteries. She didn’t have anything handed to her and struggled through life like many people, which you can find out about here.

What really got people to hear about this television cook was this summer when she admitted under oath to to using the N-word in the past during an incident where she was held at gun point. Although she has not called anyone a racial slur since becoming famous, this incident still caused an uproar and she instantly lost nearly all of her company relationships such as The Food Network and Walmart. In her appearance on the Today show, Deen tried to redeem herself by asking the crowd if they had ever said anything that they regret and wish they could take back. In my opinion, everyone has said something terrible that they would not generally say when they are in a time of distress.

So Paula chose to broadcast herself on the Today show in an attempt to knock down the rising anger among viewers as well as posting YouTube videos as apologies. I don’t believe this was her greatest idea, and having a better PR Professional might have been a better approach in helping her get back on her feet faster.

Is Paula Deen going to be able to rise above the issues that she’s faced and make a come back? Absolutely. But she is going to need to make sure that the next time she is robbed, she uses some kinder words. Here is a recap of Paula’s most recent public appearance.

Sycamore Homecoming!

Ahh, it’s that time of year again…the changing colors of the leaves, the cooler air, and football. At Indiana State University, we dedicate an entire week to Homecoming and the great All-American game. Of course there are more events than just football, there’s something that everyone looks forward to. For me,  that thing has always been watching my sorority sisters and our pairing compete in Sycamore Sync. This years events include: Sync, Torchlight Parade and Pep Rally, Tug-o-War, the Trike Derby, Parade, and the Walk just to name a few. Click here  to see the full schedule for this week.

One thing that disappoints me about Homecoming week is that many students won’t participate in these activities because they see them as only Greek events. In recent years there have been a lot more student organizations come forward to participate in Trike and Sync which has been great. It’s nice to see more students getting involved and I hope to see more student activity this year. We are all students at this great university and showing school spirit and participating in one of the greatest weeks of the school year will be a memory that can be cherished for life. That is unless you participate in The Walk…because I doubt you’ll remember much of that.

I won’t be able to attend any of the homecoming events this year which has been very depressing for me especially since it’s my last semester at Indiana State. I will be working 3 nights, in night class for another, and then in Indianapolis the other 2 nights taking my final tests to become a licensed Real Estate Agent. For those who haven’t yet been involved in Homecoming, I hope that you can take the time to enjoy a few of the events and at least attend the football game on Saturday against Youngstown State at 3:05pm!

Go Sycamores!

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Alpha Phi’s last year cheering on the Trike Race.

A Moment with a Public Relations Professional

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Photo Via: LinkedIn

This week I had the opportunity to talk to Emily Elliott who is the Public Relations & Marketing Coordinator at the Boy Scouts, Crossroads of America Council in Indianapolis. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations from Butler University in 2012 where she was President of the Butler Chapter of PRSSA. I became acquainted with Emily a few months ago when my fiance began working in the same office as a District Executive. I called Emily this Friday to get a better understanding of what it is that she does and what advice she may have. Hopefully you’ll enjoy this as much as I did!

What’s a typical week like?

No week is typical! We are currently in our busiest times of the year and everyday can be different. Each week, I spend about half my times in meetings and then the other half actually in my office working on projects. Every Monday I have a meeting with my communications consultant to check in with her on the projects she works on for the council. Wednesday mornings are devoted to my role on the management team. We have a meeting every Wednesday for about 3.5 hours and I devote the rest of the day to those matters. Last week I had a new intern start and spent most of Monday getting her settled. I also met with a group of videographers to discuss a series of videos I need for an event in December. The rest of the week was a lot of fun for me because I was working on media relations for popcorn. I had 3 TV interviews from Thursday to Saturday and spent the rest of the time in the field getting shots of popcorn delivery and pick up for a video for our internal audience.

Tell me about a project you worked on that you are especially proud of.

Next week will mark my year with the Boy Scouts and it’s difficult to pinpoint one project that I am the most proud of over the past 12 months. The things that make me the most proud is when my seeing my work actually being implemented. For example, it was great to see recruitment materials I designed, finally in the hands of potential Scouts and parents. Landing media interviews is always very exciting to me because it can be very difficult. It’s really nice to just see a project be successful.

What do you do to keep current in the PR industry?

Staying current in the PR industry is very important to me because I learn of new trends and resources that can help me in my job. I attend workshops each month for the Public Relations Society of America. On a daily basis, as soon as I get in the office, I will read the news online and read my PRSA daily news email. This keeps me the most current not only for the industry, but also in general. PR is definitely about knowing what is going on, not only in your organization and industry, but around the world. Finally, I try to meet with my mentors who work in the industry and other PR friends every few months for lunch or drinks. This is a great way to exchange ideas.

What do you wish you would have known before starting your career in PR?

I wish I had realized just how quickly things can change. I can come in the office thinking of my to-do list and then a story breaks leaving the rest of my day focused on media. When I was in school, I heard PR professionals talk about how quickly things can change in the 24/7 news cycle, but didn’t realize to what extent. There have been weeks that I have accomplished nothing because I’ve spent all my time answering media requests and being in strategy meetings during time of crisis.

How important is writing in your career?

Writing is absolutely number 1 in my career. It is the foundation of everything I do and the most consistent task. Just this week, I’ve written a letter for our Scout Executive, a presentation document, and copy for two newsletters. From writing a pitch to a newsletter article, I have to be able to write efficiently and effectively.

What three tips would you offer someone just starting out in PR?

Put on a smile. An organization’s PR professional interacts with a lot of people internally and externally. A lot of times I just don’t have the energy to talk to another volunteer or media member during a breaking story, but I put on a smile and listen because I know it is important to that person or the organization. Learn to write. Writing will never go away. Learn to write well and it will make your job so much easier. Your job will never be done, but put the phone down. PR is one of those jobs that you can’t just clock out at 5:00. For me, I have to be available 24/7 to the media and my coworkers if an emergency arises. However, I have had to learn to put my phone down when I am away from the office. Know when something can wait and when something needs to be responded to immediately. I’ve not replied to media who have contacted me late at night knowing it could wait until morning. You have to draw boundaries or work will consume you.

What has surprised you the most about working in PR?

Probably one of the biggest things I didn’t think about while I was in school was the gap between public relations and older professionals. People have a lot of different definitions about PR and most of them are only half true. I spend a lot of time educating people on my job and its capabilities. An in-house PR professional is still somewhat of a new concept for many organizations.

How to not suck at blogging

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Photo Credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/32141355@N07/3484678693/”>the girl who owns the world</a> via <a href=”http://compfight.com”>Compfight</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

I’m definitely not the world’s greatest blogger, and I could use a few pointers myself on how to write something that’s actually worth reading. I turned to Google and searched on how to effectively blog. Not surprisingly, bloggers like to blog about blogging. Whoa. So I’ve got quite a few tips from these internet sensations on how to effectively communicate electronically. So here are a few of my favorites:

1. Figure out why it is that you’re even blogging.

If you have no purpose to your blog then you obviously aren’t going to get anywhere. Do you want to write as a way to express yourself or is it a way for you to connect with family and friends? Maybe you even have a talent that you want to show to the world such as cooking or personal style. In my situation, I was required to create this blog as a way to build my skills in public relations but I will probably continue to use this blog afterwards as a way to blog about current issues in my career field and use it as a tool for marketing myself. Basically, if you don’t have a reason to blog, then no one will be interested. So find something that interests you and others will be interested too.

2. Write often.

I think this should be obvious because if you aren’t active, then people will lose interest. It’s the same with all types of social media. If you’re following someone on twitter who never posts anything, then why continue following them? Keep things interesting by taking the time to blog and prove that you’re still focused.

3. Be unique.

Don’t look at another blog and think about how you want to blog something similar. Be creative and find inspiration elsewhere. There are things all around that can inspire you to blog! Being unique is another way to spark interest from others.

So if you want to network and get people to check out your blog…you’re gonna have to do some work too. Commenting on other blog posts is a great way to get people to view yours and potentially follow you. So how do you make a good blog comment?

1. Comment about something to strike up a conversation.

Don’t just post saying “great post” but instead pick something from the blog to discuss. Maybe give your own opinions or ideas on the topic.

2. Be on of the first comments.

Think about YouTube: the first comments you’re going to read are the first ones listed. No one is going to notice if you are comment #52, because no one has that kind of patience to scroll through every comment.

3. Be respectful.

Remember that the main reason that you’re commenting is for your own publicity. So if you’re bashing someone for posting something on religion or maybe politics then you’re just making yourself look rude. There are ways to voice your opinion without being that guy that ruins a post.

If you want some more information on effective blogging then check out these great sources I used:

http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/how-write-great-blog-comment?page=all

http://www.mackcollier.com/how-to-write-great-blog-comments/

http://howtoweb.blogspot.com/2006/05/10-habits-for-effective-blogging.html