Finally Finals

The end of the semester is finally upon us. The last week is coming to a close and so are finals. Students all across campus are huffing and puffing with relief as they walk out of the classroom for the last time this semester, taking massive amounts of knowledge with them.

CAP 220, Fundamentals of Advertising, is one class that will have a bittersweet ending for me. On one hand I will be relieved that the work is over. On the other hand, I will miss learning so much about public relations every Wednesday. Before we started learning in class, we were asked to write about what we thought public relations was. In my eyes, I think I had a pretty good idea of what it was. However, that was then and this is now. I have come to the realization that although I may have known what public relations is, I wasn’t fully aware of what went into it. There is a large amount of variety in public relations from the type of work you do to who you work for.

I feel as though I now have a better understanding of the inner workings of public relations and the work that goes into everything. I’ve learned from this class that there is a lot of behind-the-scenes work. A public relations practitioner cannot just through tactics at a client and hope they work. Someone who is good at their job will follow the hierarchy of public relations to craft a campaign for a client, if that is what they ask for. The RACE acronym is essentially the guidelines of the field. I would not have known the importance of research before taking this class.

A client may blindly follow your word, however, if your ideas do not work or they are unable to implement them then they may ask why. What are you going to tell them if you don’t do your research? You must be able to provide a client with a method to your madness. Creativity is important in public relations, but the scientific portion is just as important.

I learned from this class that public relations is not just fun ideas that you think would be cool. It is research, timing, money, and work that has to come from somewhere. This has not deterred me from my career path.

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Tools for Social Media Management

Tools For Social Media Management

If you have ever had to manage social media, and I don’t mean posting that selfie on Instagram, you know that it can be very intensive. Using social media as a PR utensil involves content, planning, and proper execution. It is a time consuming duty that is nearly essential in public relations today as it is one of the easiest modes of communicating your message or brand to the public. Luckily, there are tools at our disposal that alleviate some of the work and stress that often come along with social media management.

Hootsuite

Managing content for one social media account is easy enough, right? Well, what if you have to manage six? And what if you have to manage social media for more than one client? This is where Hootsuite comes in to save the day. Hootsuite is a social media management tool that allows you to access and make use of multiple accounts in one dashboard. Your dashboard can include Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Despite being free in its most basic form, there are plans that increase the capabilities for a subscription fee. With this service you can schedule, monitor, and analyze posts.

Tweedeck

Tweetdeck is a tool that I am much more familiar with. I began using this tool my freshman year at Grand Valley State University due to a recommendation from a fellow Advertising and Public Relations major. After attending a few meetings of PRSSA, Public Relations Student Society of America, I grew interested in participating in Twitter chats. This is when you follow a certain hashtag and use it to engage in a conversation about a certain topic with others. It can be difficult, however, to keep up with the multitude of people using the hashtag while tweeting at the same time. Furthermore, if you want to follow another hashtag you would have to leave the current searched one to follow the other. But with Tweetdeck all these problems go away. The website is set up in a way that allows you to use multiple panels on a single dashboard. These panels are organized feeds that can contain tweets from any hashtag, any user, any content featuring a specific handle, and more. Tweetdeck also allows users to schedule tweets for the future which can be helpful for social media marketing and management. Because of this, that poor social media intern wouldn’t have to hit send at exactly 10 a.m.

Buffer

Now, this is a platform that came to my attention fairly recently. Almost identical to Hootsuite, Buffer allows users to manage multiple platform at the same time. One thing that sets Buffer apart, though, is their app. That’s right, Buffer has a very comprehensive and clean app for iOS and Android smartphones for more mobile focused users. However, this app doesn’t really offer a feed option for those who want to view live feeds from all of their platforms.

 

References

Buffer. (n.d.). Retrieved November 15, 2017, from https://buffer.com/

Inc., H. M. (n.d.). Social Media Marketing & Management Dashboard. Retrieved November 15, 2017, from https://hootsuite.com/

TweetDeck. (n.d.). Retrieved November 15, 2017, from https://tweetdeck.twitter.com/

PRSSANC Was Fun

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A couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend the Public Relations Student Society of America National Conference in Boston, Massachusetts. Although I am only a sophomore I was eager to take this chance and run with it. Despite costing an arm and a leg, I enjoyed the experience as it motivated me as a student studying public relations and provided me with valuable insight into the world of PR. I would like to utilize this platform to lay out three reasons why I enjoyed the conference.

1. Networking

In the past, I have gone to networking events, but nothing too large. They were all in the Greater Grand Rapids area and the networking mainly took place between students, professors, and a handful of PR professionals. The National Conference was unlike anything I could have expected. Perhaps it was because most of the attendees were around the same age and therefore easier to interact with, but networking was extremely simply. There was no pressure to mix or mingle with those around you. It could be as simple as turning around, shaking a hand, and swapping social handles and you just made a connection in a foreign city. These connections were more than just a greeting and sharing names. These people you network with become the people that you explore the city with, attend panels and sessions with, and hang out with at the days end.

2. Panels

Just like general assembly meetings at our local chapter, the National Conference hosted sessions where a speaker would talk about a certain subject and their experiences in the world of PR. These professionals, who are well-known for their work, would offer valuable knowledge about starting a career, what a career would entail, how to manage some of the bumps along the road, and much more. The speaker would then open up the floor to questions from the audience. One of my favorite sessions was ‘The Transformation of PR” hosted by Mike Fernandez from Burson-Marsteller. He talked about his vast amount of experience in PR which varied from being one of the youngest and first press secretaries in D.C. to working with the soy industry. He mentioned that the way he got his start in public affairs was by wandering the streets of D.C., knocking on doors of public officials and asking for a job. Since I am interested in working in public affairs, I was going to ask how one might get a start in the field today, since knocking on doors doesn’t seem like a very viable option today. Sadly, I waited in line for the microphone, but never got my chance to ask my question as the Q&A was cut short due to another session starting soon. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the session.

3. Travel

I am not one who travels very often. I had, embarrassingly, hardly ever left the state of Michigan without my parents. I was excited, to say the least, to take the chance to travel without them holding my hand. Boston was a beautiful city that seamlessly integrated modern buildings with the traditional architecture and history. Our hotel was close to the water, only a short walk away, which offered us an amazing view. I have never met more social squirrels in my life. All in all, it was a worthwhile and memorable trip.

References

Burson-Marsteller. (n.d.). Retrieved October 25, 2017, from http://www.burson-marsteller.com/

Fernandez, M. (2017, October 23). Mike Fernandez (@Cogit8). Retrieved October 25, 2017, from https://twitter.com/Cogit8

PRSSA 2016 National Conference. (2017, October 12). Retrieved October 25, 2017, from http://apps-prssa.prsa.org/events/Conference/

 

 

Curious Cosmo Cancer Crisis

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Throughout 2017 alone we have seen multiple massive public relations crises. From Pepsi’s terrible approach to diversity and protest to an airline physically assaulting one of their customers. One crisis that is a little less known comes from the lifestyle magazine known as Cosmopolitan. Although it is not as publicized, it is still a crisis nonetheless and makes you wonder if someone lost their job.

On April 11th, 2017 the well-known lifestyle magazine sent out a tweet from their Twitter account that stated “How This Woman Lost 44 Pounds Without *ANY* Exercise” followed by a link to their website featuring the article. Now, initially this may draw readers, like myself, who either don’t have the time or motivation to workout. All was well until people began clicking on the link and reading the article. Readers quickly found out that this woman had cancer. It wasn’t the cancer that caused Simone Harbinson to lose 44 pounds; it is actually close to the opposite. Multiple surgeries and months of hardly being able to move took a toll on Simone. To make a long story short, this woman endured a painful crucible that resulted in her finding comfort in eating. Since she was still unable to workout Simone found a dietary program known as The Bod that she followed to lose 44 pounds.

Let’s look at the problem here. Cosmopolitan mislead their audience into thinking that a woman lost 44 pounds because she had cancer. Although the article states otherwise, people are quick to jump to conclusions and form opinions. The headline gives off the impression that Cosmopolitan is romanticizing cancer. The tweet that was posted featured a different headline than the one that was on the actual article posted on Cosmopolitan’s website. The article itself was titled “A Serious Health Scare Helped Me Love My Body More Than Ever”. Multiple other publications covered the crisis that Cosmopolitan was going through, with Huffington Post saying that headlines are meant to entice readers “but this Cosmopolitan one took that premise a little too far” (Amatulli, 2017), and noted that the magazine did not respond to their critics. They did not attack their accusers. They did not make an excuse or deny that there was a problem. They did not try to justify the tweet, offer their audiences some reimbursement for the trouble, or outright apologize. What Cosmopolitan did do, however, was take corrective action.

The text book states on page 176 that corrective action is when “the organization takes steps to repair the damage from the crisis and to prevent it from happening again” (Wilcox, Cameron, Reber, & Shin, 2013). The magazine did take corrective action, though, did not offer any guarantee that such a thing will not happen again. What Cosmopolitan did do was delete the problematic tweet. The article is still featured on their website and states at the bottom that “this article has been updated since publication”. The Washington post, in their article about the incident, states that “it’s unclear whether the headline was changed” (Andrews, 2017).

In my opinion, I believe that Cosmopolitan could have benefited from taking more action than just deleting their tweet. Their imagine and reputation may have taken less damaged if they followed the OAF model that can be used in certain crises. Own it, Apologize, and Fix it. All they did was fix it. Had they addressed that their tweet was insensitive, apathetic, and misleading and that they have or will be taking internal corrective action readers would know that they sincerely apologized instead of just deleting the tweet because of the recoil. Cosmopolitan was right to have taken the tweet down, but could have done more.

 

References

Andrews, T. M. (2017, April 12). Dear Cosmopolitan magazine: ‘Cancer is not a diet plan’. Retrieved October 04, 2017, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/04/12/dear-cosmopolitan-magazine-cancer-is-not-a-diet-plan/?utm_term=.aabdd8b58d9b

Amatulli, J. (2017, April 11). Cosmo’s Headline About Cancer Survivor’s Weight Loss Is A Doozy. Retrieved October 04, 2017, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/cosmos-headline-about-cancer-survivors-weight-loss-is-a-doozy_us_58eced9ae4b0df7e204585a0

Wilcox, D. L., Cameron, G. T., Reber, B. H., & Shin, J. (2013). Think Public Relations (2nd ed.). Boston: Pearson.

 

 

Research? In Public Relations?

Research- In Public Relations-

It isn’t as crazy as you think. It’s actually very crucial. Research in public relations is the difference from talking to your audience and communicating with your audience. It helps us better understand our clients. It helps us identify our clients problem and figure out how to fix it. Defined by Don Stacks in his book, Primer of Public Relations, as “the systematic gathering, analyzing, and evaluation of data” (Stack, 2017, p. 4). There are multiple different kinds of research and each serve a purpose in successful public relations work.

  • Secondary research is essentially research on someone else’s research. This is where someone will go out and read someone else’s work, look at their tests, and analyze their results. This is how, in public relations, we gather information on target markets and people’s opinions. You can also get to know your competition through their available information, or research done on them.
  • Primary research is the type of research we do first hand. This is where we send out surveys, conduct interviews, or host focus groups. It is here that we can really understand a market or an audience. We talk to people and find out their opinions and feelings about our client or a broader topic. It is easier to gauge responses through primary research. However, this type of research does not come without its difficulties. For primary research to be reliable and valid the moderator must remain object, which can be troublesome. It is easy for a researcher to accidentally sway the test subjects.
  • Quantitative research is research with massive and numerical results. It is generalizable. This means that you can make assumptions about the larger population. This type of research is done through surveys, polls, and other means of
    getting a large amount of simple responses.
  • Qualitative research is where we gather more rich data. The root word being quality, this data is full of  opinions and testimonials. This type of data cannot be generalized because the responses are more personal. In the book Qualitative Research Methods in Public Relations and Marketing Communications the authors state that research “should give us insight into how managed communication influences the dynamic processes through which we create our realities and cultures” (Daymon & Holloway, 2011, p. 4). In-depth responses coming from focus groups, interviews, and observations give us the best information to provide us with the insight the authors are talking about.

The Public Relations Society of America states that:

“Proprietary and third-party research provide today’s communications professionals with valuable information with methodologies, best practices and data-driven results that contribute to the development of strategy, tactics, media campaigns and case studies.”

This is why we do research in public relations. We are not trying to solve the mysteries of the universe. We are not trying to figure out if you can grow an ear on the back of a mouse. What we are trying to do is figure out your problem, learn about it, develop a strategy, and fix it. We are trying to make you successful and and credible. Our job is to help you achieve your maximum potential. We need to do our research to make that possible.

References

Daymon, C., & Holloway, I. (2011). Qualitative Research Methods in Public Relations and Marketing Communications. London: Routledge.

Research. (n.d.). Retrieved September 27, 2017, from https://www.prsa.org/research/

Stacks, D. W. (2017). Primer for Public Relations Research. New York: Guilford Press.

 

What Do You Know… About PR

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The world of marketing communications is constantly flowing at a rapid rate. Because of this it is difficult for a person, brand, or even idea to stay relevant and connected to the masses. Essentially, public relations is relating to the public. Yeah that does sound pretty redundant, but it’s the truth. Despite being romanticized on television or in movies the portrayals usually do emphasize how stressful the job can be. It is through that medium that I gained most of my insight on public relations before being exposed to it. To me it seemed as though public relations is purely crisis communications.  Kristen Wiig in The Martian or the character Seth Grayson from House of Cards and many others seem to engage in only crisis communications or media relations on a daily basis; this is not the case. They also never have a crisis management plan, which is extremely important according to W. Timothy Combs on page 5 of Ongoing Crisis Communication: Planning, Managing, and Responding. There are many more facets to the field. Described by PRSA, Public Relations Society of America, as being “about influencing, engaging and building a relationship with key stakeholders across a myriad of platforms in order to shape and frame the public perception of an organization.”

Believe it or not, a person working in public relations will do more than engage in crisis communications, despite the strangely frequent need for it on television. It is my belief that any website with a .gov is a decently credible source, but who knows anymore with this administration. Either way, I will cite the Bureau of Labor Statistics and their comprehensive list of duties for a Public Relations Specialist. The first job listed is writing of press releases and the gathering of information for media. A public relations specialist will have a close relationship with the news media. This tends to be a primary medium for a PR message. However, there will be dozens of other press releases being thrown at a news outlet. Therefore, it would be our job to compile a news letter that catches someone’s attention and is worth their time to include in their slot. On top of this the media may ask questions or need more information. That is why we do our research and gather our facts and information.

Public relations can be, and usually is, crucial to a brand’s success. Similar to advertising in the way that the main goal is to reach out to target markets and engage with them. However, it is different in that public relations is about the relations part. It is a unique form of marketing communications because the goal is to build a relationship with masses of people. This is the part of the work that intrigues me. To create an almost interpersonal relationship between the general public and a client is no easy task, but it is something that I would love to be a part of. Without communication like this companies and brands could become the next airliner disaster, if you know what I’m saying. Public relations is necessary no matter what others may say. A PR specialist can avert a crisis, get your name out there, and create that bond between your audience.

 

References

All About PR. (n.d.). Retrieved September 06, 2017, from https://www.prsa.org/all-about-pr/

Ongoing Crisis Communication. (n.d.). Retrieved September 06, 2017, from https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=CkkXBAAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PR1&dq=crisis%2Bcommunication&ots=NHua3hlm7j&sig=f-fC0I85-VzC5R2yH-yTsktRpBU#v=onepage&q=crisis%20communication&f=false

Summary. (n.d.). Retrieved September 06, 2017, from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/public-relations-specialists.htm#tab-2

Google Analytics and Me

Before this fall, I had never heard of personal branding. This changed drastically ever since I became an Advertising and Public Relations major at Grand Valley. Personal branding is crucial in this field, as knowing your brand and selling your brand to build your network is a huge part of APR. For me, my personal brand is built around how social I am in my life and my interest in all forms of media, hence the name of this blog, and my desire to become a PR professional. Media and the way people reach an audience is ever changing today, and it is up to me to stay informed with current trends to stay in the know.

As stated previously, I am an Advertising and Public Relations major, although, I have yet to declare an emphasis. I will most likely choose public relations as it is an atmosphere that I can see myself thriving in. My social nature makes public relation conducive to my growth as a person. However, it is nigh impossible to know exactly where one will end up in life. Therefore, it is necessary to become adequate in all aspects of the APR field. This will not only increase my knowledge of both sides, but, I will also become a more versatile employee. This versatility would be beneficial in developing my brand. Media is almost a living creature. It is so alive in the sense that it moves and changes, it talks to us and we talk back. With so much feedback, it becomes difficult to keep track of who is saying what and how to respond.

This is where Google Analytics comes in. This system acts as a translator between and advertiser and their target market. It is extremely user friendly and easy for advertisers and businesses to use. Imagine Google Analytics as the middle man. You have a website for a business that sells let’s say shoes. Now, what use is a website if you have no idea whether it works or not? This system allows you to respond to your customers that come to your website. Google Analytics provides you and your business with comprehensives data about what your customers are doing on your website.

2016-12-14
Clark, E. K. (n.d.). [Screenshot of Test Score]. Retrieved December 14, 2016.
To do this, Google uses Javascript, a form of source code, to track who is coming to your website and what they are doing there. This code lets Google find out where in the world your customers are coming from, what campaigns are working, and how customers use your site. It can even know where on your website that potential customers lose interest. You learn what pages of your website are not performing well and then take action to fix the problem.

Google offers another service known as AdWords that helps users form ad campaigns. AdWords can be useful to make your business known and bring people to your page. This service can provide data about your ads in regards to their click through rate, page quality, and how you get your ads out to the public. This can be extremely useful, however, with Analytics the two become powerhouses for a business.

So this may leave readers asking, “what if I prefer public relations over advertising?” Well, Analytics doesn’t have to be just for the advertisers. Think about it this way, you are helping a political campaign as a PR pro and your candidate needs someone to reach the community through their website. Here, Analytics can be used to show what portion of the candidates website is being focused on. There is a page on this hypothetical candidate’s website that regards their stance on environmental protection. Google Analytics can tell you that this page is getting the most clicks and is performing very well. Now you, the PR pro, can tell your candidate to focus on this issue to reach the community and boost their reputation with the people.

So, maybe my life does take a turn towards advertising. Maybe it stays on the track of public relations. Either way, Google Analytics will help me further my career and my brand as a PR professional who can reach others through the use of new technologies and media. This is why I became Google Analytics certified.

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Clark, E. K. (n.d.). [Screenshot of Passed Certification]. Retrieved December 14, 2016.