Ohio University ImPRessions

Ohio University ImPRessions

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Grey’s Anatomy and the Duquette Disaster: PR Edition

November 20, 2014

By: Erica Stonehill @estonehill13

For the past nine years, Grey’s Anatomy viewers have been dragged through shock and scandal, praying that the inner workings of their own hospitals weren’t as dramatic as this fictional one.

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In season two, a surgical intern “stole” a heart from the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) for her fiancé by cutting his LVAD wire (left ventricle assist device) and nearly killed him. This immediately moved her fiancé to the top of the donor list, past another man that had been waiting years for a heart. As a fan of the show, I couldn’t help but let out a sigh of relief when Izzie (the intern) wasn’t fired and Seattle Grace didn’t lose their license as a teaching hospital. However, as I began re-watching the series I found myself viewing these events through PR-colored glasses, and there were a few bases they forgot to cover.

Transparency is key

In the healthcare industry it is vital that a business stays transparent to their audience. For entertainment’s sake, the hospital contained the Duquette disaster and was never made public – looking at it realistically, the hospital should have released a statement. By not addressing the issue, the hospital risked a huge scandal and could have potentially pegged themselves with a reputation of hiding information from the community. The lesson here: always be transparent.

Use the same message across all platforms

Consistency should go hand-in-hand with transparency. Every crisis is a delicate situation and should be handled as such. Do everything possible to maintain the reputation of the client, while still making the audience feel informed and cared for. The message needs to be controlled across every platform – media, face-to-face interaction, social media, etc. Had Seattle Grace released a statement, they should have spoken through one voice such as the chief of surgery or VP of Communications. By having an authority figure as the spokesperson for the hospital, it would show that the incident was being addressed in a consistent and transparent manner.

As soon as someone of authority caught wind of what Izzie did, a team should be assembled to figure out the facts and plan next steps. Silence is just as bad as “no comment.” It gives off the feeling that information is being withheld. In any crisis situation, you have to figure out all the facts and create a plan to move forward before the damage is done.

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The more that I study public relations, the more I find myself applying it to things around me such as my favorite TV shows. The surgeons of Grey’s Anatomy may be gods of the scalpel, but they need the gods of PR to deal with some of the things they get into.

Home Sweet Home: A Lesson in Finding Yourself

November 19, 2014

By: Alex Corsi @acorsi17

College is a big adjustment. Living over 500 miles away from your family is an even bigger adjustment. I was born and raised in Connecticut, and Ohio is definitely different to say the least.

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But where do I call home? I have never felt so out of place, which is why at 19 years old, I am now questioning everything I ever knew when I feel like I should already have my life figured out. However, after a year at OU I figured out you can create a unique versatility about yourself when you learn how to function without your family in an unfamiliar place. There are so many ways you can grow as a person when you go to school far away, and these were the most important things I learned when finding myself:

  1. You have to make yourself uncomfortable to find new comfort. This can be as simple as smiling to the person riding the elevator with you, or as wild as applying for an internship that seems way out of your ability level. Taking risks is the only way to make strides in life – you must leave your comfort zone in order to create a new one somewhere else. Applying for my first position in ImPRessions last year was not an easy task – I was new to the strategic communication side of journalism, and I honestly didn’t think I was going to get a spot on the account because I had absolutely no experience. But I forced myself to reach out anyway, and I have fallen in love with public relations.
  1. Establish a sense of independence. Your mom isn’t always going to be there to make you a cup of soup when you have a cold, and your dad won’t be able to drop everything and fix your car when it’s broken. The same goes for the public relations industry. One of the best parts of being a journalism student at OU is the availability of numerous extracurricular opportunities. In our public relations and advertising clubs, we learn the strategies we need so we can go out in the work field and do our jobs effectively without needing someone to hold our hands.
  1. But don’t be scared to ask for help. You don’t have to do it all alone. Asking for help is something I’ve never been good at, but I’ve come to realize that you alone cannot and will not have all the answers. Asking for help doesn’t show weakness, instead it shows you have the strength to recognize the areas you need some assistance in and take the initiative to do so. Nobody is perfect no matter how hard we try.

Going to school away from home can be hard at times, but it teaches you things that when the time comes to graduate and enter the “real world” you’ll know what to do in a new and unfamiliar place.

A Million Dollar Company Based On A One Dollar Idea

November 18, 2014

By: McKennah Robinson @kennmilli

If you’ve seen the startup video for Dollar Shave Club, you know that the CEO uses a machete and there’s a giant bear throwing dollar bills. You also know that this is a gold mine of a video is absolutely hilarious. If you haven’t seen the video, check it out below.

On March 6, 2012, Los Angeles native Michael Dubin posted a self made YouTube video advertising his new company – Dollar Shave Club.

Two days after Dubin posted the video, an upwards of ten thousand people had signed up for this “club.” After a few months, the video had over four million views and the company had taken the world by storm.

Dollar Shave Club is so simple that it’s almost comical that no one else has thought of it yet. For a dollar a month, men can get razor blades sent to them and avoid the hassle of going to the store and spending up to 10 dollars on the same type of razor. Michael Dubin saw an opportunity and ran with it, and came up with unconventional PR plan to make his company boom.

Dubin, having a strong background in marketing also has a background in comedy to thank for his million-dollar company and his hilarious viral videos. He understood that sometimes in a world of completely conventional techniques, you have to be willing to take a risk to get noticed and make your brand as personal and memorable as possible.

Besides a limited number of Google Ads, Dollar Shave Club uses nothing but their own social media outreach to gain and retain members. Every YouTube video is equally as comical as the last, and the company connects with its members in a way that the leaders of razor sales can’t and don’t. In a massively impersonal world, sometimes people just want to feel like they belong and like they connect with the companies that they’re giving their loyalty to.

Say what you will about companies that focus their advertising efforts around social media – I can tell you from a young adult and aspiring strategic communications professional that things like Twitter and Facebook aren’t fads, and if anything they’re still growing. Companies like Dollar Shave Club realized they could use social media platforms to connect with their followers and still make their branding personal.

The start up video for Dollar Shave Club now has over seventeen million views, and the company is worth millions of dollars. If I were a man, I would wholeheartedly be a loyal member.

Music Monday: Marketing in the Music Industry Today

November 17, 2014

By: Will Gibbs @w_gibbs

It’s no secret that the music industry is changing. Album sales are down and streaming services have become high priorities for many in the industry. However, musicians still have to market their new projects and there is several ways artists get their name out in hopes of boosting sales.

Drunk in love with Queen Bey

Last December, Beyoncé dropped her self-titled album with no previous promotion or announcement. It sold over 600,000 copies in three days. Now, it is important to consider the fact that Beyoncé is Beyoncé, and not just anyone can release an album out of nowhere and expect it to do well commercially. She is one of the most successful musicians today and has garnered a big enough fan base to generate buzz quickly.

Won’t you stay with me?

Newcomer Sam Smith has charmed his way into the hearts of listeners around the world with his smooth and soulful voice, but before his album In The Lonely Hour debuted at number 2 on the Billboard 200 chart, he performed on Saturday Night Live and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Smith used guest appearances on other songs, Naughty Boy’s “La La La” and Disclosure’s “Latch” to develop a following before his debut album came out in May.

Making deals with iTunes

Irish rock band, U2, partnered with Apple to release their new album, Songs of Innocence, to every iTunes store customer for free. The deal was exclusive to Apple products and non-Apple users had to wait to buy the album until it was physically released over a month later. The announcement was made at a highly publicized Apple Co. event, and the company has reportedly spent $100 million on U2’s marketing campaign.

It’s more than Summertime Sadness

Lana Del Rey decided to take a “less is more” approach when promoting her new album, Ultraviolence, this year. While she debuted the first single off the album, “West Coast” at the Coachella Music Festival – even with an overwhelmingly positive response, she did not do any television performances or interviews before the album was released. While she has been known for her mysteriousness and exclusivity in the past, it is rather interesting that with very little promotion, her album was able to sell 182,000 copies in its first week of release.

With the changing music landscape, artists have to be more creative and think outside the box when it comes to promoting their albums. Some prefer to let the music speak for itself and remain out of the public eye, while others, like Taylor Swift, participate in a very busy marketing campaign in order to sell albums.

like Taylor Swift, participate in a very busy marketing campaign in order to sell albums.

Big Lights, Big City: The Small Town Girl’s Guide to a Big City

November 13, 2014 4 Comments

By: Sam Miller @keepcalmsam14

D.C.It’s no secret that in this business big cities are the hubs of public relations. However, being born and raised in small town Somerset,Ohio, does not prepare you for a city that has so many new things to offer. The village I live in is nestled in Perry County, and is a solid hour and a half drive to a city where there are not cornfields every mile. So you could say that being dropped in the middle of Washington D.C. for PRSSA National Conference was a little overwhelming. However, during my stay I picked up a few skills that’ll make surviving a big city a breeze.

 

  1. Enjoy the diversity. In D.C. there were people from all around the world, speaking languages I had never heard before – the experience really opened my eyes to the outside world. Seeing it all me realize just how beautiful the world can be when not surrounded by cornfields. And while being in the setting of one of the most culture-rich cities in the world can definitely be overwhelming, just embrace the city around you and you’ll find yourself in the hustle and bustle of it all!
  1. Try everything. The city offers so many things: amazing places to eat, breathe taking sites, diverse culture and many other exciting things! D.C. not only had amazing landmarks but delicious food. Every meal means something new – I tried Ethiopian food for the first time and it was amazing. Every city has something beautiful to offer, just break outside of your comfort zones to find it. The last experience I recommend to try is public transportation. Whether it’s a bus, taxi or the subway, just try it. Since my little hometown would never dream of having public transportation, it was brand new to me and using it everyday made me feel very metropolitan.
  1. Be prepared. The best piece of advice I can give you is to just be prepared. No matter how prepared you think you are, the city will definitely catch you off guard.. Knowing exactly where you are, what you have with you or what you’ll need will really help you manage the hustle and bustle of the city and will make you feel a lot more comfortable in such a new place.

Knowing how to make your way in place that is new to you is important, but it is especially to those of us who have never lived in a large city before. Being able to manage and navigate such a new, big city will make your next job or internship a breeze, and will allow you to have a much more enjoyable experience during your stay.

Why Losing Control of Your Brand Can Be a Good Thing

November 12, 2014

By: Emily Barber @emilybarbershop

Remember the days in elementary school when a substitute teacher would come in, and the moment your class realized this, they proceeded to go insane? Kids were screaming, papers were flying and everyone knew that no work would get done that day.

The phrase “losing control” brings a similar image to my mind. That was until I watched the TED Talk of Tim Leberecht called “3 ways to (usefully) lose control of your brand.” In just a mere 6 minutes, Leberecht, the current CMO of NBBJ, explains that losing control can be an extremely worthwhile practice.

Leberecht’s first tip on losing control is “giving people more control.” He uses the example of the brand Patagonia and how they encourage potential customers to only buy items if it’s a necessity. This is exemplified in the “Don’t Buy This Jacket” ad pictured below. By putting the choice to buy into customer’s hands, the company holds up their values of sustainability and gains respect in the long run.

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The next point Leberecht makes is to give people less control in certain contexts. By taking away an overabundance of choices, people are left with a simple, clear option that will result in satisfaction. Leberecht gives the example of the “Nextpedition” campaign launched by American Express in 2011, which allowed customers to book a trip without knowing the destination or itinerary until moments before. This could be viewed as a risky choice, but definitely one that would create buzz.

Finally, the last step to successfully losing control of your brand is to embrace serendipity. Leberecht ends his TED Talk by saying, “Companies can worry about how much openness is good for them…or they can simply smile and remain open to all possibilities.” When you stop obsessing over every detail, it opens the doors for beautiful surprises (and even mistakes!) that can have a great impact.

As young PR pros, we have heard time and time again about the importance of branding and brand management. However, we must also realize that sometimes it’s okay to sit back and let your audience take control, because often these human characteristics are the most valuable part of a brand.

 Watch the talk here:

 

Small Town Business, Big Time Success

November 11, 2014

By: Danielle McCarthy @Dee_m_me

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Scooter’s World Famous Dawg House. The title may be misleading, as they aren’t world famous and they don’t sell scooters (But people do call and ask just to make sure), but it isn’t to be overlooked either. A local hot dog and ice cream stand in northeast Ohio, right on the way to Headlands beach is consistently packed for the six months of the year that it is open. It is top-rated on TripAdvisor as the best restaurant in Mentor! As PR students, the first thing we ask is how are they able to be busy enough to only stay open for 6 months, they must have great PR, right?

Wrong! They do no public relations work themselves. They have a Facebook page that customers post on every so often, but Scooters does not use it to get the word out about specials or menu changes like it could. There is also a website that only gets updated with each year’s menu. From my experience working closely with the owners of Scooter’s, I know that they personally refuse to use coupons or advertise themselves in any local papers or brochures. So how do they have such a loyal fan base without any promotion?

They have always gotten their business using the word of mouth of their devoted customers. The business started with the friends and family of their employees, as well as people that lived in the neighborhood Scooter’s is located by, and from there it grew.

Many small businesses start off by using word of mouth techniques, but 13 years later they would still not be using any social media.

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As a seasonal summer employee for 3 years, I can see where having social media accounts and an up-to-date website is necessary. If there is slow business we will close early, as well as close for certain holidays. However, it’s necessary to alert customers of these changes, but we would often just put signs up in the store a few days prior.

Scooter’s is very successful for a seasonal, local business, but there can always be more awareness of their brand, especially if they ever choose to expand. They have a very distinct hometown, family feel and there is possibility for social media to reflect this as well. Spending my summers here has really helped me to see where public relations isn’t always needed but can be implemented to make a situation better!

 

5 sites that are making travel more social

November 10, 2014

By: Lindsey Zimmerman @lindseyzim716

travel personGood news for everyone suffering from an incurable case of wanderlust: it’s easier now to see the world than ever before! In the past, would-be explorers usually had to book their adventures through a travel agent, but now travelers can plan and personalize every aspect of their trips in ways that wouldn’t have been possible even a decade ago. And with our society becoming more and more connected every single day, travel planning is becoming a social experience as well.

Here are just a few of the many apps and websites that make travel planning a breeze, no matter where you are in the world. How many have you tried?

  • Planely is a relatively new site that helps passengers connect with others on their flights. Their mission is pretty simple: why sit at the airport bored by yourself when you could be making a new friend? Once passengers register and enter their trip details into Planely, they can begin connecting online with fellow travelers even before arriving at the airport.
  • Globetrooper takes Planely one step further by allowing users to plan trips and invite other users from around the world to join them on their adventures. It allows travelers to meet like-minded people who want to share the same kinds of adventures. So if you’ve always wanted to hike the Himalayas but none of your friends are up for it, don’t worry – there’s a Globetrooper trip for that.
  • Couchsurfing is probably one of the most well known sites for finding free accommodation just about anywhere in the world. This site allows travelers to stay with a local resident for free in their destination city. Ratings and reviews are available for all Couchsurfing hosts so you know what you’re getting into. Even if you’re not looking for a place to crash, Couchsurfing holds free events and meet-ups in cities all over the world, making it easy to meet and connect with fellow adventurers.
  • Yelp probably isn’t new to most people, but it can be incredibly useful while traveling. With reviews on everything from food to nightlife to shopping, it’s incredibly easy to see what other people’s experiences in your city have been like, and plan accordingly to avoid potential problems. You can also check out different events that will take place in your destination city in case you need something else to fill you itinerary.
  • Airbnb is the place to go if you’re looking for somewhere to stay long term – or if you’re not into hostels. Locals who are willing to let travelers stay in their homes will create a listing on the site, often with a very reasonable price per night. Accommodations can range from a spare bedroom in an apartment to an entire house. Just like with Couchsurfing, you can check out reviews of potential hosts written by other travelers who have stayed with them.

This list is by no means exhaustive, and there are hundreds (if not thousands) more sites and apps that are socializing travel in similar ways. Exploring the world is getting easier one click at a time.

Athens Boutiques Get Social With Their Media

November 6, 2014

By: Corina Rolko @corinarolko 

Athens is widely known for being home to Ohio University and its popular annual festivals, but many are finding that the gorgeous brick streets also boast modern and unique fashion boutiques. Uptown Athens has a wide array of shops, but a few have boosted their popularity through a strong social media presence.

kismetFigleaf Boutique, a women’s clothing store on North Court Street, has a fan base of almost 4,500 people who view their daily posts. The shop mixes media with photos, look books and simple sale announcements to entice customers to stop in and shop their regularly changing selection. To engage with customers, they also host giveaway contests on their Instagram, Facebook and Twitter – creating a fun and fashionable environment online.

Just up the street from Figleaf, Artifacts Gallery uses colorful graphics, enthusiastic tones and infuses humor into their social media. Their Facebook page has over 600 fans and their photo-driven approach engages customers and brings them into the story. They also have a Twitter account where they showcase photos and important sale information.

Screenshot_2014-11-06-14-28-54Kismet, a newcomer to the Athens fashion scene, is a women’s and men’s clothing, accessory and home goods boutique located on West Union Street. Kismet has taken off on social media with Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram accounts that are constantly engaged with customers. Their Twitter page has a following of almost 500, and they consistently post links to their blog where readers can learn about the newest trends and see new pieces in the store. Their Instagram account shows pictures of pieces to draw in customers and promotes contests that give followers chances to win gift cards or unique items from the store. The different platforms could easily become overwhelming, but instead of posting the same information and photos, they work together to promote events and sales in different and innovative ways. For a sidewalk sale in April, their Facebook account ran an announcement in the morning, while their Twitter account posted a photo of the set up and the Instagram account posted a photo of new bracelets that were available for purchase.

In a town where the target market is college students attached to their smart phones, fashion boutiques have to be smart in using social media if they want a free and effective way to bring in new and returning customers. While the fashion selection in Athens continues to grow and expand, its certain that the social media presence of each business will become more and more important in marketing efforts.

 

Antiques Roadshow is Surprisingly Social Media Savvy

November 5, 2014 2 Comments

By: Elaine Carey @snakesona_laine

My love for Antiques Roadshow is no secret. The appraisers are all so insanely knowledgeable, and finding out what an ugly vase is worth gets my adrenaline pumping more that a cat fight on Real Housewives any day.

However, I didn’t expect Antiques Roadshow to have/want/need any significant social media presence – I kind of associate it with grandmothers and hoarders (What does that say about me? I don’t know). But the show’s executive producer, Marsha Bemko, told Collectors Weekly this about their target audience:

On Monday nights at 8:00, we want every television set in America to be tuned to “Antiques Roadshow.” That’s what all producers want: Everything and everybody. In reality, we know that half of our audience is over 50 and we skew slightly female, probably 55-45. Not a huge amount but a little bit more female. The exciting thing is we have almost 10 million viewers a week. So with that amount of people watching us every week, with maybe half of them under 50, that gives us an audience of roughly half-a-million viewers under 18.

We PR Folks know how important knowing your target audience is. So that half-a-million viewers under 18 and some of the under 50 crowd was presumably their motivation for getting on Twitter and Instagram.

Their 23.2K followers on Twitter and 2,797 on Instagram seem to indicate that they are doing a darn good job!

They Tweet regularly. They participate in popular memes:

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They get people excited about the hidden gems that have been hiding in peoples’ attics!

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They use hashtags to their advantage (and America’s obsession with cats).

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What to take away from this? Social media can be a powerful tool, even when you least expect it.

My personal recommendation: Start tuning in to PBS and enjoying the show or at least get some inspiration from Antiques Roadshow’s unexpected social media prowess. In the changing face of entertainment, Antiques Roadshow stayed relevant through creativity. They did their research and found a way to engage all audience members.

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