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I have really enjoyed taking this class this semester. Public Relations was a very new field to me and I was not 100 percent sure that it’s what I wanted to end up doing, but after taking this course I can honestly say that Public Relations is the path for me, I also did my own research in order to find out if PR was right for me. At the beginning of the semester we defined what public relations is and what goes along with being a Public Relations professional in today’s society. What I learned is that PR is very hard to define and it has many different components and ideas that go along with it, also, there are many different personality traits that you must possess to work in this field. You have to be very good at persuading, working with people who may be difficult, you need to be able to realize what the right path to shape a public image is, and also need to be able to work well with others in a team. My favorite part about this class and the readings that we had to do were always the case studies. The case studies would give examples of different companies or organizations and their situations where Public Relations was needed. The case studies also provided different ways to solve the problems that these organizations were having and some of these ideas were very interesting. For example, when Taco Bell used the criticism that they were taking as their PR campaign against the people and it worked. Also, learning how to use all of the different forms of social media but in professional ways really helped me. I have never blogged before or used Twitter in that way, but I know that I will need to in my future career.

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Blackberry’s for Kids?

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A hashtag is often represented by the symbol # and it is a very important symbol on social media sites such as Twitter. A hashtag provides followers the opportunity to talk about a company and have it be understood. More often than not companies will release hashtag campaigns to try and get their customers talking about their company, but these campaigns can fail and cause negative feedback to the company.

One example of this that I found is the RIM, which is the company behind Blackberry, hashtag fail. Blackberry did not consider who their main customers are when they released their new campaign on Twitter. They launched the #bebold campain which included a list of hosts that were cartoon characters, these included Gogo Girl: The Achiever, Max Stone: The Adventurer and Justin Steele: The Advocate. This campaign came off as childish to Blackberry’s customers and their customers are definitely not children since lets be honest no child can afford nor do that have the use for a Blackberry. The cartoons came off as superheros to many people and even though the company claimed that they weren’t superheros at all claiming that they were just a fun infographic and not a part of their larger campaign. However this didn’t make a difference and it still didn’t change the mind of customers because the characters did not sit well with brand image at all. Some customers even tweeted negative things about the company and how their campaign was completely childish and how it looked like they were trying to sell shitty products to kids. If I were Blackberry I would have just removed the characters completely from the campaign right away instead of trying to explain what they are. That may have only helped a little bit, but at least it would not provide customers with more time to criticize the company via Twitter.

Crisis Communication: Susan G. Komen for the Cure

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In 2012 the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation had a major company crisis. Susan G. Komen is the largest breast cancer advocacy program in the United States. In 2012 they announced plan to cut off financial support to Planned Parenthood’s women’s health initiatives. This announcement and decision in general led to massive amounts of criticism and got them caught up in abortion debates that have nothing to do with their organization at all. Professors and articles were published saying that the apology that Susan G. Komen issued was “unconvincing, overly bureaucratic justifications.” The organization lacked communication with the public at first and then any statements or apologies issued were not convincing and held no meaning to the public eye whatsoever. To buy some time CEO Nancy Brinker and President Elizabeth Thompson stepped down. Brinker stepping down ended up making her look very bad and guilty because she had previously issued a statement saying that the decision had nothing to do with abortion debates, but no one believed her and then she stepped down which made her look like a guilty liar. 

Where Susan G. Komen went wrong was not going public early. They did not address the public at all until the problem was already out of hand. Also, the language and tone of any releases they issues never seemed genuine enough to change anyone’s mind on the controversy. This crisis is still affecting them today. This years Susan G. Komen Walk for the Cure had 20% less attendance than past years.

 

 

 

“unconvincing, overly bureaucratic justifications”

Tips for Writing an Effective Press Release

 

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It is often underestimated how important writing is in the field of Public Relations. Writing is one of the most important things especially when it comes to writing press releases and these make a huge difference in PR. Press releases are a way to get information out there. Here are some tips on how to write an effective and useful press release according to the Association for Library Collections & Technical Services.

Tips

1. Make sure the information is newsworthy.

The information must be something that your intended audience wants to read. There are certain characteristics that make something newsworthy such as prominence, uniqueness, etc. Using those characteristics will help.

2. Always start with a brief description of the news and then say who announced it.

Some people have such strong opinions on certain speakers that they won’t read anything by that person, so give some of the news first to get them interested and then reveal who said it.

3. Use plain language

Use words and language that your audience will understand. If you use words that are too over their head then they will most likely not care and will stop reading.

4. Provide as much contact information as possible: Individual to contact, address, phone, fax, email, Web site address.

Always provide all the contact information that you can because then if someone wants more information they have a way to get that and it will most likely make them more interested.

5. Make sure you wait until you have something with enough substance to issue a release.

Your press release must have enough information and be interesting enough to intrigue readers. If that means holding off on releasing the press release then do it because in the end it will benefit you more than putting one out there that will get no attention.

 

Amazon C’mon Really?

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Image Credit via. forbes.com

In November of 2010 Amazon defended it’s sale of a book by a man named Philip Greaves. Greaves is a pedophile who’s book was titled “The Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure.” This book was basically a guide on how to rape. Quickly customers and media noticed that this was one of the products available and Amazon came under great amounts of criticism. Amazon stated that they do not support any criminal acts, but that they support the customers right to make their own purchasing decisions. In a way they made it seem like they had done nothing wrong because people aren’t being forced to buy the product. Amazon continually defended their decision until the author of the book made a national statement that was absolutely sick about how this book was just to establish rules for pedophiles, but seriously does it matter what rules they follow? They’re still molesting children! The day after this statement was made the book had been taken off the website and Greaves was later arrested in Florida. One of Amazon’s main Code of Ethics is that they always act lawfully, ETHICALLY, and in the best interests of Amazon.com. Well they definitely acted in their best interests to make a profit, but nothing about their decision was ethical. Also, let’s get real, how much money were they going to make off of a book that cost $4.75 anyways…NOT MUCH!!!  I feel that Amazon should have never put the book on the site, but they should have at least taken it down right away and issued a public apology. I feel that this isn’t forgivable, but it won’t affect their company standing or any of their profit because people are going to make purchases from Amazon no matter what since they are a well established business.

PR Professional Interview

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Image Credit: David Johnson via Facebook.com

Yesterday I had the pleasure of interviewing my cousin David Johnson about his work in the field of PR. David is a Marketing Communications and Outreach Professional at Columbia College in Chicago Illinois. He also works a lot in the field of Public Relations. David attended Indiana University and after college started a career in marketing and sales, but realized that wasn’t what he truly wanted to do. He then decided to move toward the communications side of his degree and there he found his home. David is now getting a masters degree in higher education administration and communications.

I gave David a call yesterday in order to ask him some questions about his career. Here is the exact interview that was conducted…

1.) What’s a typical week like for you?

Answer: A lot is communicating with students, but mostly 50-60% is working with web content and social media, 20% is meetings with my department to get their message out, and the last 20% is public speaking and networking.

2.) Is there a project that you have done that you are especially proud of?

Answer: Initiated a program with a contest about fashion and there was a documentary done on it that received national attention causing students to be interested in the school.

3.) What do you do to keep current in your field?

Answer: Getting my masters and also using new social media tools.

4.) What do you wish you would have known before starting your career?

Answer: I wish I would have started it earlier since it’s a better fit for who I am.

5.) How important is writing in your career?

Answer: It’s one of the most important things, I feel that it sets me apart because most people are hung up on social media but forget that what you say within that is the most important part.

6.) What are three tips you would offer someone just starting out in your career?

Answer: 1. It’s not all about using the social media, but what you say when you do use it. 2. Network 3. Be comfortable with public speaking

After interviewing David I realized that a career in this industry is exactly what I want to pursue. This is because I don’t want some boring job where I know what I’m going to be doing every day and also I love to write and interact with people!

Need Blogging Tips? You Got Em Right Here!

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Blogging may seem like something that is easy, but in reality it’s not. I find it to be pretty difficult actually, maybe this is because I’m technologically stupid, but who knows! For this first assignment I had to follow three Public Relations blogs  and then provide tips for effective blogging and also leaving effective comments on others blogs. In order to find the blogs I wanted to follow I looked on Google for the top PR blogs that there are and I got a list of 50 and then I just chose from there. The 3 that I chose were, PR Communications, PRBreakfastClub, and PRNewser. These are three blogs that really focus on the field of Public Relations. PRNewser is a blog primarily for new users who are interested in seeing what goes on from day to day in the vast world of PR. PRCommunications is written by a Marketing Management Professional who gives his view on certain topics that are being discussed each week and some of these are related to Public Relations. Lastly, PRBreakfastClub is written by a PR student who offers good insight to other students so I find this one particularly helpful. For the first part of this assignment I was asked to provide tips for effective blogging. Well, I’m sure I am not the best blogger right now, but so far here’s what I think makes a difference…

1. Make your blogs interesting! People aren’t going to read something that is boring and uninteresting to them, so know who your readers are and appeal to their wants and needs!

2. Make your blogs a good length. I know that whenever I am assigned or asked to read something that looks like the words will never end most of the time I just don’t read it. Make your blog long enough to be effective, but short enough to keep your readers engaged in what you are saying.

3. Make your blogs readable! Talk like who you are, don’t try to sound super sophisticated or like a total idiot…just be you!

The second part of this assignment was to provide tips for commenting on others blogs…

1. Make the tip long enough to have some substance to it and get your point across.

2. Make it interesting! Be sure that whatever blog you are commenting on that writer will want to read your comment.

3. Know what your talking about! Don’t go into a comment without having read the blog post and knowing what the person was talking about.