My Top 10 Tips For New PR Students

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As the semester comes to a close, I have been reflecting on all of the things I learned from my Public Relations classes, as well as all of the things I wish I had known coming into them. I literally jumped head first into PR without knowing anything about it other than what I heard about it being a great minor to pair with a Marketing Degree.

So, in the spirit of “Paying it Forward”, here are 10 tips for any new PR students out there that are about to dive “head first” into this subject knowing little about it too.

"Peekaboo" By Lili Vieira de Carvalho

1. Don’t be shy! Before taking PR classes, I had never blogged, never tweeted, nor I had ever wrote anything for internet journalism/ marketing/ public appeal other than some amateur newspaper articles in high school. I was so nervous to start writing because I though that I was going to be so bad at it and fail the class just because I had never written a blog before. If that’s you, I suggest to shrug off your fears and jump into it! If you’re stuck, brain storm ideas onto the page because it’s easier to work with something than nothing at all!

2. Ask Questions! If you don’t know or understand something, please do not hesitate to ask your professor or your peers. In my classes, there were a lot of “snooty” students who came off as really experienced PR people. That really intimidated me to ask questions in class because I didn’t want to seem dumb and make a bad impression. If that’s you, ask your professor through email or after class; never miss the opportunity to learn!

3. Get to know your peers! Networking is an important aspect to anyone’s career and establishing relationships with your fellow PR students is a great place to start (especially if you don’t know anyone).

"Sorry, you have to queue like everyone else" By linh.ngan

4. Get Involved! Professor Nixon always had assignments that encouraged us to either reach out and meet people or stay within our bubble and research to find answers online. Don’t be a lazy bum with all of similar assignments/ projects you get though! Use these challenges to meet people and find out, first hand, how things are done in the real world. Learn how to contact and communicate with people to get what you need!

5. Read, Read, Read! Learn from other PR students, other bloggers, and especially other Professional bloggers by reading their posts. See how they do things and try to mimic the aspects of their blogs posts that are done well.

6. Follow the right Format. It’s a shame that so many PR student bloggers neglect AP Style. If you’re serious about your writing, invest in a AP Stylebook and adhere to it! Memorize as many grammatical rules as you can and dog ear or mark the pages that have the rules that you use the most on a daily blogging basis so you can reference them quicker.

7. Be Genuine. Blog about topics that actually interest you or, if your assigned a boring topic, turn it into an interesting one. Otherwise the tone of your writing becomes robotic and stiff and no one wants to read a paraphrased textbook answer. Make your blogging assignments unique because anyone could be reading your posts, even future employers!

" Embraced By Words" By Robbert van der Steeg

8. Learn Your Blog’s Program. My professor made the class that she was going to use to discuss “how to use Word Press” optional to the students. In turn, there were maybe three of us who actually attended class that day. But, you know what? …Those three that attended that class were continually mentioned by her in person as three of the most well done blogs of the class. So, I advise to attend those classes and learn all you can about the website you are using to write your blogs on because it will enable you to make your blog more interesting, interactive, and you’ll feel more comfortable writing them.

9. Actually do the News University Courses! News University is such an amazing tool for journalists. If you fully complete the courses and engage in the lessons, you’re skills will benefit exponentially. My favorites were the ones that dealt with leads,  grammar, photography, copyright laws, and persuasion. But I advise you to complete all the ones you can. Learn while the learning’s good!

10. Embrace the Class. Before you know it, the class will be over. Embrace every assignment and learn as much as you can while you can. “Just getting by” and being lazy about your writings will teach you little and impress no one. Put your best foot forward in your work and you’ll reap the benefits before you know it.

Overall, my PR classes were probably two of my favorite classes I’ve taken so far while in college. They were so valuable to me in that they opened up my knowledge and skills which helped me coin 2 internships, in both of which I love what I do!

If you enjoy the class while you can and be thorough with your work, you’ll go far!

 

PC Bridal Exhibit

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I am an intern for Linda Marie Weddings and Events, and I love it! I was able to partake in the PC Bridal Exhibit last month with the business, and if I were given the opportunity, I would help love to help market the next bridal exhibit that is being hosted by the same company in the same place this coming September.

PC Bridal Exhibit

This exhibit is open to anyone and is extremely helpful for people just engaged or for those that are looking for ideas, advice,  businesses, etc.

To help market this event, I would assist with their social media connections and marketing strategies, such as emails, blogs, tweets, etc. I also am handy when it comes to graphic design and can help make the exhibit’s web page more attractive, design postcards, and print or web advertisements to help advertise the event.

At this event, one can expect to experience fashion shows that example wedding gowns, bridesmaid dresses, and tuxedos; cake tastings; free stuff; vacation give-aways; raffles; wedding and event decor ideas; floral designs; food tastings– and— attending the event will give one the chance to meet with vendors; vendors which range from wedding planners to bakeries to limo rental businesses.

Attending a Bridal Show such as the PC Bridal Exhibit gives a bride or groom and his/her family a first hand chance to get ideas and makes hiring the right vendors easier.

The next PC Bridal Exhibit will be on Sept., 30, 2012 and will run from 1-5 p.m. It will be located in the Lakeland Center in Lakeland, Fla.  Admission is free with online preregistration before Sept. 28, otherwise admission is $8.00 at the door.

To preregister or to find out more information about this event, check out their website here , or connect with their Facebook page.

 

 

Lobbying and Social Media

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Lobbying is commonly known as groups of people attempting to influence the decisions made by government and/or legislative officials.

I do not follow along with politics enough to “have a view” and determine if the group is exercising undue influence in shaping legislation. But what I can discuss is how certain groups utilize social media to influence people and grow their support/fan base.

"Tent City Actions Capitol Hill" By by 99inDC

Lobbyists can utilize social media in a similar way small businesses can. Some examples are stated below.

1. Blogging- Lobbyists can utilize blogs to promote their ideas, events, news and/or accomplishments.

2. Twitter- Tweeting about events, news, politicians, current or past feats or  struggles can encourage others to get involved and see what is happening within the group.

3. Facebook- Facebook is a great site to get all of the followers on at once and maintain a group communication about current events, news, ideas and schedules.

4. YouTube- Posting videos is also a great way to get a bigger fan base because YouTube reaches a wider audience. Plus, more people are likely to watch a video describing a cause rather than reading about it.

5. Pinterest- Posting any kind of visual aid about the cause the group is lobbying for will attract more eyes than words, thus, Pinterest’s use of gathering and sharing videos and pictures such as event photos or infographics is a great way to spread the idea and attract supporters.

A prime example of a group that has successfully utilized social media to advertise their campaign is the Occupy Wall Street movement.

For more information about Lobbying and social media, google’s search engine brings up some interesting links.

 

 

Twitter Chatting

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This week I followed along with a Twitter Chat.

If you’re unfamiliar with Twitter Chats, they pretty much resemble an online chat room but instead are normally associated with one general topic. Anyone can participate in one because all one needs is the chat’s hashtag to post to their tweets so that the other chatters involved can see them.

So the Chat I followed is called Blog Chat (#Blogchat) and is held on Sunday nights. It was started in March 2009 and each week there’s usually a different blogging discussion topic such as about personal blogs, business blogging, optimizing your blog in search engines or how a company can pick a good blogging team.

"Two Bloggers, After Norman Rockwell" By Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

This week was an “Open Mic night” where the chatters get to pick the topic and initiate in their own conversations and get the chance to get their questions answered.

I asked this, “Hey Blog Chatters! I have a question for you: What are some tricks I can do to maximize traffic to my client’s blog?”, and I had several replies that offered great advice. For example, Ashley Ashbee replied “@cynflynn91 Do you know anything about search engine optimization? Make client’s blog searchable using audience-based keywords. #blogchat” In other words, I can optimize my client’s blog so that it will come up near the top in search engines searches by following a few simple tricks on

I learned so much from asking just one question!

I recommend getting involved with blog chats because they are fun and a great tool for Public Relations Professionals. They provide easy access to a network of PR Pros and they are a quick way to discover and share new ideas. The only thing I would say to watch out for is how fast they happen. There are over 300 million impressions on any given night, according to Hashtracking, from September-December of 2011, which means there are about 2.4 million people every week!

Blog Chats containt a range of skill and knowledge amongst the people that participate, and because there are so many people, I admit it, I get intimidated to participate and prefer to just follow along so I don’t embarrass myself by tweeting something that’s common knowledge.

If this is you too though, I encourage you to keep trying to participate and get your ideas out there! After all, the more the merrier when it comes to learning and teaching!

To find out more about Blog Chat, check out its description and FAQs here; to follow along with other Twitter Chats, check out these top five twitter chats to get started.

 

Writing Your Own Introduction

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Guest speakers often must provide their own introductions when they’re invited to speak somewhere. These introductions, however, must be written in a way that someone else can introduce the speaker to the audience.

Lisa B. Marshall

So the question today is, how does one write an engaging introduction? To start with, here are some tips from Public Speaker, Lisa B. Marshall:

1) Ask yourself what the purpose of the speech is and mention the main topic of it and three memorable subtopics.

2) Build rapport by analyzing your audience and finding common ground that can help you make a instant connection.

3) Be brief and conversational. Ask questions or make statements that allow the audience to interact with what you’re saying.

4) Use proper body language to communicate positives and a sense of openness.

I think, though, that the most important thing to remember is to be yourself. Let the audience know who you really are and allow them the chance to get to know you; this will give them more of a reason to listen and digest your message.

For more information, visit Marshall’s website, here, or visit the Quick and Dirty Tips website where Marshall discusses Introductions.

Spin Control: Ford and the White House

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I think it is safe to say most of us watch TV, in which case some of us have probably seen the old Ford commercials where Ford dealers would put “real life” Ford owners into surprise press conference rooms where they would be asked questions about their new Ford purchase.

If you can recall these commercials, perhaps you can remember the one aired in Sept., 2011, where a buyer says, “I wasn’t going to buy another car that was bailed out by the government. I was going to buy from a manufacturer that’s standing on their own: win, lose, or draw. That’s what America is about is taking the chance to succeed and understanding when you fail that you gotta’ pick yourself up and go back to work.”

If you do not remember this commercial, it is probably due to the fact that the commercial was allegedly requested to be pulled from TV after a call to Ford from the White House. (View the commercial in the below video).

 

 

Although shocking at first and seemingly a strike at our right to the freedom of speech, I believe Ford might have blurred the line that separates a press conference and paid advertisement. Because the government does have the right to regulate TV, I believe that the White House’s request to pull the Ad from television was not out of line or without reason.

The comment the man said in the commercial,I , myself, find offensive anyway. Sure it is his opinion, and everyone is obligated to one, but I think that a very historically prominent American company’s advertisement of the government’s “bad decision’s” has nothing to do with the value of the car ( in that it doesn’t help it run any better) and that it is also in bad taste (or in other words, poor PR planning) to air it as if the legalistics of the government had anything to do with making cars run better.

Overall, I’m glad that this commercial is no longer being aired on public television, but whether it was taken off the air or not, it does not affect me personally other than turning off my appreciation for the long-term American qualities of Ford.

To find out more about the situation surrounding this incident, click here.

“Hear Ye, Hear Ye” Across Multiple Channels

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by Tiverton Town Council

Today in Public Relations Applications, we discussed subjects from chapter 12 in the THINK: Public Relations text by Wilcox. We discussed how Public Relations Professionals act as medieval town criers in terms of getting information out to their public audiences.

by TOMTEC

To do this, PR professionals rely on a toolbox of “tactics” that help them to reach as many people as possible. To name a few: news releases, public service announcements, media conferences, and special events which can be sent to print, TV, and/or radio publishers once they’re written for the correct corresponding channel of communication.

It’s the job of the PR professional to get their messages accessible to the public. Utilizing different channels, other than social media, is a great way to do so. It is important for the PR professionals to understand how to prepare messages for each, but each channel, however, has important requirements that make it unique.

by keepthebyte

For example, printed material, such as news releases, must be written using the Associated Press Style; which has many different requirements from the standard English grammar format most people are used to writing in. Also, news releases need to be written, metaphorically, in the shape of an inverted pyramid. Information needs to be written in order of importance where the most important things are mentioned first and the least important are mentioned last so that people will read the most important information even if they only read the first couple of lines.

News releases prepared for print are very different from those that are prepared for radio. Radio announcements should take about 30 or 60 seconds (about 125 words) to read because broadcasters must fit their messaged in a rigid time frame that is measured down to the second. Strong and short sentences are preferred because they make the message more conversational, they allow the announcer to breathe in between thoughts, and because they help the listener follow what is being said. Television

Getting messages to be aired on TV can be a little more tricky than getting messages printed or read. Luckily, the text mentions four approaches PR pros can use to help get their viewpoints on local television.

1.) Send the same news release the the local print media receive. If the news director thinks the topic is worthy, then it may be mentioned by the news announcer.
2.) Have a media alert/ advisory inform the editor about an event that would lend itself video coverage.
3.) Phone or email the editor and make a pitch to have the station do your story. (The secret to successfully pitching to a TV news editor us ti emphasize the visual aspects  of the story).
4.) Produce a video news release and send it into a station.  This works because it requires minimum effort on the part of the TV station.

To read more about the tactics of PR professionals in terms of reaching their audiences, check out the textbook THINK: Public Relations by Wilcox.