Ohio University ImPRessions

Ohio University ImPRessions

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Corporate Social Responsibility – The Future of PR?

April 18, 2014

csrMany Americans view corporations as the real controllers of the free world, but they do not consider them to be benevolent businesses. Greed and extreme wealth are often associated with corporations and trust of them is at an all-time low. These reasons combined with the increasing awareness of environmental and social issues, such as sustainability, are why many companies and organizations are increasing their focus on corporate social responsibility efforts.

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development defines corporate social responsibility (CSR) as “the continuing commitment by business to contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as of the community and society at large.”

Essentially, CSR is a management concept where businesses embrace responsibility for their social and environmental actions, and strive to have a positive impact on the community through their daily activities and policies. When done correctly, CSR can be cost effective (i.e. energy savings) and present a company in a more positive light to the public.

Now, more than ever before, consumers place a larger importance on buying from and supporting socially responsible companies who treat the environment and its employees with care. In a 2013 study by Good.Must.Grow., a socially responsible marketing agency, 60 percent of people said that buying goods from socially responsible companies was important to them.

This means that companies who commit to doing good and have public relations efforts in place to promote this goodwill, will ultimately benefit.

Here are some brands and businesses that are benefitting from their CSR initiatives while helping those around them:

Sevenly
Each week, this organization partners with a nonprofit to design a t-shirt specifically for their cause. $7 from each item sold during that week gets donated to the designated charity.

Burt’s Bees
This company played a role in developing the Natural Standard for Personal Care Products, which creates guidelines for what can be labeled as natural. As a member of the Sustainable Packing Coalition, it also follows the highest standards for packaging sustainability.

GE
“Ecomagination” increases awareness of how the company is using renewable energy and reducing carbon emissions. The “Ecomagination” line includes products that improve both operating performance and environmental performance.

Starbucks Coffee
Starbucks focuses on acting responsibly and ethically, as well as on the sustainable production of green coffee. The company supports products like Ethos water that brings clean water to over 1 billion people worldwide.

Kenneth Cole
The fashion company is a public supporter of Aids awareness and research. A full 100% of proceeds from sales of its “Awearness” products go to the fund.

Whole Foods
An obvious supporter of sustainable agriculture and the reduction of waste, Whole Foods encourages environmentally sound cleaning and maintenance practices. The company also created a program that provides up to $10 million in low interest loans to small local producers to grow their business. It additionally fights poverty through microlending programs in rural communities around the world.

Patagonia

This Californian apparel company recently launched an initiative encouraging its customers to reduce, repair, reuse and recycle their clothing and equipment, rather than buying more.

Global Prairie

Since 2008, this integrated marketing communications firm has donated more than $5 million in addition to volunteer work to sustainable causes that its employees and clients are passionate about.  10% of the company’s annual profits are divided between the employees so they can donate the money to charitable causes.

The business world is full of opportunities to make a positive impact and benefit the global community. CSR helps businesses operate in ways that benefit society and help improve the public perception of the company. The combination of sustainable business practices and welcomed promotional efforts by consumers means CSR may just be the future of public relations.

Kerry Tuttle is a senior studying Strategic Communication. You can follow her on Twitter at @kerrtut.

Are Bloggers really Journalists?

April 17, 2014

bloggingAddressing the issues of journalism and blogging can be quite tricky. The negative connotations lent to citizen journalism make it hard for bloggers to be taken seriously. However, many blogs are run by renowned journalists and apply the tools of the trade learned in journalism schools across the country. So to answer the question if bloggers are journalists: yes… and no. It all depends on your answer of what a journalist really is.

Why all bloggers are journalists

If a journalist is simply someone that writes, every blogger is a journalist. Blogs are written; therefore the bloggers that write them can carry the title of a journalist. If a journalist is someone that spreads news, every blogger is a journalist. News can mean many things to many different people, but what you write about will always matter to one person, making it news. Similar to newspaper and magazine articles, blogs vary widely in topics. Niche markets can also be very popular with both bloggers and print journalists, making even the smallest population of consumers happy.

Why all bloggers are not journalists

As I have previously stated, blogs are easy for anyone and a good starter tool. This includes people that are not well versed in the forms of AP Style, how to format a blog and grammar rules. This leads to blogs and citizen journalism having an unprofessional connotation. This assumption of unprofessional writing does not bode well with the professional journalists of the world. However, what is a journalist? If a journalist is someone that has taken classes and graduated from a journalism school, while having professional training, all bloggers are not journalists. The negative connotation that comes with citizen journalism has a lot to do with journalists in the sense that they went to a journalism school and worked hard for their degree – unlike some citizen journalists. The notion that citizen journalists can do the same work as a trained journalist is ridiculous to someone that has endured 4+ years of training for a career in Journalism.

Overall, it can be hard to distinguish whether a blogger is a journalist. When it comes down to it, just look at the writing and content presented. If you find it professional, it doesn’t really matter whether that person attended a journalism school. Above all, listen to your gut and don’t back down when discussing what you truly believe in. After all, your most important client is yourself.

Gentry Bennet is a freshman studying Strategic Communications. You can follow her on Twitter at @Gen_andTonic.

YAPI Account Launches Prescribe Change Media Campaign

April 16, 2014

YAPILogo

The Young Adult Prevention Initiative (YAPI) is a new account that was signed this semester by ImPRessions. I was honored to be chosen as the Account Executive of the account, along with my Assistant Account Executive, Sarah Rachul. Our account is made up of seven hard-working associates who have dedicated an extensive amount of time to our client’s cause.

YAPI is a community-based coalition of residents, businesses, organizations, professionals and advocates collaborating to prevent and reduce prescription drug abuse Fairfield County, Ohio. Funding for YAPI is through the Fairfield County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health (ADAMH) Board through a grant from the Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services.

The job of our account is to create a media campaign from the ground up. We had to take a lot of things into consideration and most of this semester was spent planning out the three-year campaign.

Here is what we have accomplished so far

  • PR Plan. Every good PR campaign begins with a plan and detailed description of the direction it should take. We created a two-tier media campaign that began its roll-out in March with our social media channels.
  • Campaign Name. Although our client is named YAPI, we decided that to reach our demographic of 18-25 year olds, we needed a more direct and understandable label. We brainstormed and decided on “Prescribe Change.” Our slogan for the campaign is “We prescribe the facts. You change the stats.”
  • Campaign Logo. Having a talented Creative Director in ImPRessions is very helpful when you need graphic designs produced. Taylor Carney designed a campaign logo that we are using across all of our social media channels, campaign materials and eventual website.
  • Social Media Plan. We created a plan for how we plan to use our social media channels and the type of content that will be posted. The plan included draft posts, content buckets, measurement planning and a description of each social media channel.
  • Social Media Launch. Both our Twitter and Facebook have launched, so give us a follow @PrescribeChange. We share content that is interesting to 18-25 year olds, as well as concerned Fairfield County community members. We are using Hootsuite to manage and measure our Twitter platform.

The YAPI account is currently in the process of researching web designers to launch our campaign website this summer, as well as creating content to feature on TV screens at the Ohio University Lancaster and Pickerington campuses. We are very happy with our progress this semester and are excited to make a different in preventing prescription drug misuse in Fairfield County.

Kerry Tuttle is a junior studying Strategic Communications. You can follow her on Twitter at @kerrtut.

Networking with Professors

April 15, 2014

professorAn average student has roughly five different professors in a semester. In a year, they probably have nine or ten. By the time a student graduates there is a good chance that they will have had 35+ professors. Each one has taught you something that you may or may not use in your profession, but are they here for more than being an instructor? The answer is yes.

They are here for you to network with, to help you potentially find an internship for the summer or a job after graduation. For some students it is intimidating to approach a professor. Students may not know how to network with a professor, or which professor to approach. To make the process a little easier, here are some guidelines to think about when starting to network with professors.

  • Find the right professor: This may seem difficult at times, but there are ways to tell which professor is right for you. Choose a professor that you like as an instructor and who has values you admire. Don’t pick one just because s/he is in your discipline, you have to be able to converse with him/her too.
  • Use your email: Sometimes the best first step is just sending a professor an email and asking them to meet you for coffee. You could also set up a meeting for their office ours. Just make an effort to get to know them.
  • Ask the questions: Be one of the students that actively participate in class, but be careful not to overdo it. Just be sure the professor is seeing your interest and knows your name.
  • Take small classes: This is easier said than done, but when possible take the smaller classes. The professor will get to know you better and vice versa. This allows for engagement in a more comfortable atmosphere.
  • Research the professor: Knowing more about your professor than just what they tell you in class is more beneficial than you think. This shows that you wanted to know a little more about them, and took an initiative to do so. Be cautious about coming off as a stalker.
  • Accept Advice: Be willing to accept the advice they give openly, many times they are just trying to help. Some information may really change your perspective.
  • Don’t Dine and Dash: Don’t be one of the students that takes advantage of your professors connections. Truly get to know them because you never know when they will be able to help in the long run.

These are just a few tips to consider when beginning to network. Don’t try to network with all your professors; it will get overwhelming and counterproductive. Remember to just take a leap of faith, because many professors want to help you. If you strikeout with one, move on to the next until you find the one you are proud to call a mentor.

Austin Ambrose is a freshman studying Journalism. You can follow him on Twitter at @tex_ambrose7.

Preparing for a Summer Internship (or Job) in a New City

April 14, 2014

Manhattan Office Vacancy Rate Drops In Second QuarterAs the school year is beginning to wind down and we’re preparing for the summer, you are probably thinking about the next steps with your upcoming internship in a new city. It’s exciting to explore a new city and discover more about yourself and how well you mesh with the city you are living in for the next three months. But with this move, you probably have a lot questions burning in your brain. Here are five tips that will ease your mind about the big move:

1. Where am I going to live?

There are a few ways you could seek out this answer: Start by asking co-workers, especially the hiring manager. They certainly know a thing or two about the best and safest places to look and with whom you can be put in contact. Also, check out nearby universities. For instance, if you have an internship in New York City, NYU has housing over the summer for interns coming in from out of state. If the city you’re moving to doesn’t have a university that rents out dorm rooms, check out the college student areas. Many students look to sublet over the summer! Don’t forget your smartphone. One app that I’ve recently discovered is called apartment list. It lets you search by zip code, bedrooms and price in order to narrow down what exactly you’ll need for the summer.

2.How am I going to pay for everything?

Budget, budget, budget. I don’t think I can stress that enough. Seriously though, when you’re moving to a new city that’s as expensive as Los Angeles or New York, expenses need to be at the forefront of your brain. Plan your budget ahead of time and think about what you’ll need to make it through the summer and stick to it!

3. I feel so alone! What should I do?

Don’t be afraid! Not knowing anyone, in my mind, is the most exciting part because you get a fresh start. You get to put the best version of yourself out there! Just because you aren’t in a dorm anymore with fresh, curious faces about this new world of college they’re about to face, doesn’t mean that you won’t make friends. It’s hard to be vulnerable, especially in a place where you don’t know anyone. Embrace your alone time, because pretty soon your phone won’t stop blowing up with people asking you to hang out.

4. How do I get around?

Take a couple days before you start your internship to navigate your way around the city. You DO NOT want to be late on your first day – mapping your way around your new surroundings will put you at ease and make you feel more comfortable about wherever are for the next three months.

5. I need to get out of the house, what can I do?

There many things you can do in this situation like ask your co-workers. They’ve lived in the city long enough to know some of the best hotspots in town and probably have some great insight into cool events that happen every summer! Your smartphone can once again come into play here, too. One app I love using is Fodor’s City Guides. The app lists off all of the important sights, restaurants, shopping, performing arts and nightlife that you should check out while you’re in town for the summer.

Ali Cupelli is a senior studying Strategic Communications. You can follow her on Twitter at @ali_cupelli.

College Bookstore

April 11, 2014

banner_moms_2014

Another Mom’s Weekend has come and gone here at OU and it’s ok to let out a little sob, we are all sad. On a happier note, the College Book Store account worked with the store in their sixth annual philanthropic event to raise money for My Sister’s Place – a local shelter for abuse victims.

The College Book Store designed a special shirt to represent this year’s Mom’s weekend. Each shirt purchased added $2.00 to the check that the store owner will send to the organization. Last year there was a whopping 528 shirts sold, 57 of those being from the Mom’s Market and the account hopes they beat that number this year!

Preliminary numbers show that shirt sales were up, but the account is still waiting for the final numbers to come in. To ensure a larger turnout, the account hung posters around campus and uptown, as well as ran a table at the Mom’s Market in Ping. The number of shirts sold at the market this year trumped last year’s.

To encourage moms to wear their new gear, College Book Store tried a side event: Get Carded! Mom’s who wore the shirt on Saturday had a chance to win a $9.99 gift card. Account members were roaming the campus and carding mothers sporting the new attire.

Thanks to all of the mom’s and their OU students who participated to help College Book Store with raising money for My Sister’s Place. We will release the final sales numbers when we receive them. 

Austin Ambrose is a freshman studying Journalism. You can follow him on Twitter at @tex_ambrose7.

Campus jobs that help your future career

April 10, 2014 1 Comment

diningLet’s face it, college is expensive. Many of us need to find jobs to help with tuition or even to have spending money. You can either take a dining hall job or you can find a job that will benefit your career. The choice is yours, but I would much rather be doing work that is related to public relations than cleaning dishes.

Become a Campus Rep

So many companies look for students to represent them on campus so that they can gain recognition among students. This job requires many of the same communication skills that we will need in the real world as public relations professionals.

PACE Jobs 

Apply for PACE Jobs! These can count as internships and provide students with very valuable experience in their direct field. There are tons of PACE positions out there, and they’re all really cool jobs too.  (Note: You must be financially eligible for a PACE position.)

Find a virtual internship

Although I personally have not done this yet, I know many people who have. Virtual internships are great because the location doesn’t stop you from interning at a firm that you’ve always wanted to work for. There are plenty of search engines that allow you to search specifically for virtual internships. If you have a certain firm and mind, it doesn’t hurt to email them and ask if they offer any virtual internships.

Working for the University

This can include jobs like becoming a learning community leader, tour guide, student ambassador or any other campus job that works to assist the university. These jobs will help you improve your leadership and communication skills, which will definitely help when applying for jobs and internships.

At the end of the day, any job that requires communicating with others is going be beneficial to a career in public relations.When choosing a job, make sure it is something that is truly interesting to you and that you enjoy doing. No amount of money is worth a semester or year of misery, so keep these jobs in mind for next semester. You’ll be happy that you’re making money while gaining valuable experience at the same time.

Jess Carnprobst is a sophomore studying Strategic Communications. You can follow her on Twitter at @jess_carnprobst.

Five steps to the perfect pitch

April 9, 2014

pitchWhether it is an internal request or cold calling, pitching can be a nerve-wracking and difficult task. Basically, you have to convince someone to add something to their to-do list, or take out his or her wallets and donate to a cause. However, it has been done, and done successfully. Here are five steps to nail the perfect pitch:

Do your research. Find ways to integrate your pitch into the person or company’s culture or lifestyle. Bringing up past connections is always helpful, along with a positive reminder of that experience. The ties that bring them closer to your pitch will help you get a meeting with them or get them initially interested.

Be friendly. Once you get a chance to talk or meet, be sure you have a friendly and positive attitude about the interaction. When asking someone to take time out of his or her day for you, it is polite and makes the conversation enjoyable and easygoing.

Prepare. Anticipating possible questions, having details ready to go and knowing your pitch inside and out can make the meeting successful and smooth. Think of yourself as an ambassador for your company or organization, in that you need to know important details and how to answer questions. If you are leaving your meeting with a bunch of unanswered questions or unclear details, your contact will be unsatisfied and probably not follow through.

Be clear. Have your key message points ready to go. Tell the person why this is important, the relevance to them and their company, the benefits it can provide and how they can participate. These are all points your contact will want to know, and will make them feel secure with the partnership. Leave something tangible behind so the contact can look over your materials, and think about your pitch thoroughly.

Follow-up. No matter the outcome of the pitch meeting, be sure to follow-up with your contact. A thank you if they accepted, along with an inquiry insuring success. A follow-up is obviously required if your contact is still pondering the decision to offer any more insight or answer any questions. If the contact rejects the pitch right away, follow-up to keep the conversation going in order to help with future pitches.

Though no pitch can be completely predicted or broken down to an exact science, the research, personality, planning, clarity and follow-up can make all the difference when making your perfect pitch.

Allison Evans is a junior studying Strategic Communications. You can follow her on Twitter @Allison_Evans.

Being Bobcats on a Budget

April 8, 2014 1 Comment

broke“Broke.” I’d say that’s an adjective college students have used to describe themselves at least once in college. I can’t remember how many times my checking account was overdrawn freshman year. Living on a tight budget can be difficult at times, but it isn’t impossible! I’m no expert in finance but here are a few tips from experiences I have had with managing my mullah.

Get a Job

With the hectic schedules of class and extracurricular activities, having a job can seem daunting. I personally believe it’s necessary to work while in school. There are many campus and local jobs in Athens to take advantage of. Working in the dining hall isn’t the most glamorous job, but it is a job nonetheless. There are work opportunities in Baker Center, Alden library and many other campus buildings, as well as internships. Work experience while in school not only looks great on your resume – it plants the seeds of learning to track your spending. Money from Mom and Dad is great, but there is a financial consciousness and accountability that comes with having to spend your own money.

Be Financially Aware

Be honest about your spending habits. How much money do you spend when going out? Are you more likely so spend cash or use your credit/debit card? These are all things you should take into account when budgeting. Sit down and write out how much money you have weekly/monthly and how much you usually spend. Does it add up or are you living beyond your means? Always have some cushion. I prefer to use a debit card because it’s similar to spending cash. Be careful when using credit, because it can add up. I also don’t spend money once my account gets to a certain balance.  Decide what your max amount is and hold yourself to it. Overdrawing your account comes with additional fees, and ain’t nobody got time for that! 

Check your accounts & statements regularly

I check my account online everyday. You should always know how much money is in your account so you don’t overdraw it. If you download your banks app, you can get mobile alerts sent to your phone whenever your balance is under a certain amount – allowing you to keep track on the go.  Also try to keep an eye on your account activity and your monthly statements. Freshman year, someone illegally used my card information to make some purchases. Thankfully, I knew right away when the $100 was spent because my bank alerted me via smartphone , causing me to immediately check my account history. Since then, I have made it a point to stay cognizant of account activity.

The 20 percent rule

My mom always told me to put 20% of every paycheck into my savings account. Now let’s be real, sometimes there’s a pair of shoes or a concert that takes precedence, but saving is a great habit to start right NOW.

Treat Yourself

You can be frugal and still have fun! You deserve it! Regularly getting out/doing something nice for yourself is more cost efficient than splurging. Always have some money set aside to treat yourself.

Again, these are standards I’ve established for myself and how I handle my money. It’s worked out very well for me and I am proud of how responsible I have been with my spending this year. Here are also some links to additional tips, plans and advice.

What do you do to budget your money?

Malindi Robinson is a sophomore studying Strategic Communications. You can follow her on Twitter at @matrixxmal.

Looking for more resources? Here are some links to help you with budgeting.

Wells Fargo         Bankrate        DailyFinance

What a Service Industry Job Taught Me About PR

April 7, 2014

Server-Job-DescriptionLike many teenagers trying to earn a little money, I spent quite a bit of time working a service industry job. My senior year of high school, I got a job as a dining room server at a local retirement home, and I genuinely loved working there. The facility where I worked was brand new (I was hired within a month of its opening) and seemed more like a cheerful, upscale hotel than a stereotypical depressing old folks’ home. More than that, though, I enjoyed getting to know the residents and bonding with my coworkers. For a 17-year-old working her first non-babysitting job, I’d been pretty lucky.

One thing that never really entered my mind while I was working there was the fact that I was, in a way, promoting our business and selling our services. And while working at a public relations agency hardly seems comparable to serving food to old people, many of the core qualities of a great PR professional can be gained through service industry jobs, from waiting tables to working in retail. I didn’t know it at the time, but that service job was giving me some of the key skills I’ll need in my future PR career.

  • Have a positive attitude. Those who have worked service jobs have probably heard it a million times: smile and act like there’s nowhere else you’d rather be. A disgruntled server or store clerk who clearly doesn’t enjoy his or her job isn’t going to make anyone want to return to that place of business. Even if you’re having the worst day ever, don’t let it show – especially when you’re interacting with customers. Your attitude says a lot, and if you’re not enthusiastic about the company, then why should they be?
  • Stay calm and professional in a crisis. Everyone who’s worked in the service industry has had at least one (and probably more) experience with an unsatisfied customer. Even though you probably wouldn’t realize it, you’re gaining valuable crisis communications skills while dealing with customers who want their food sent back to the kitchen because it wasn’t prepared to their liking. Getting angry and overly defensive isn’t going to solve anything – instead, keep your head on straight and do what you can to fix the situation.
  • Know your product. This might seem like a no-brainer to seasoned PR professionals, but it’s absolutely important to know everything possible about what you’re promoting or selling. We had to memorize the specials for each meal as well as the soups of the day, and there was nothing more embarrassing than when a resident or guest had a question about a menu item that I couldn’t answer. If you’re working with a client or doing in-house work for a company, make sure you stay in the loop about new product and service updates so you can adjust your promotion strategy accordingly.
  • Listen to your customers. Great PR, marketing and advertising campaigns typically come as a result of tailoring the promotional approach to customers’ specific needs, rather than blindly mass-promoting something. If customers in a restaurant or store speak up with a question, problem or even a compliment, take it seriously and keep what they said in mind for the future. When residents at my workplace raved about a certain dish, we made sure to offer it more often; likewise, we did away with unpopular entrees that not as many people enjoyed. If lots of customers like or need a certain product, it makes sense to promote that, as opposed to wasting time and money promoting something that they find unappealing or useless.

While not always easy, working in the service industry is a great way to learn how to deal with people. There will be customers who seem to have no intention beyond making your life miserable, but it’s important to learn how to deal with them in a professional manner. However, there will be others who absolutely make your day and remind you why you do what you do. No two days are the same in either a service or PR setting, and you never know what you’re going to get.

Lindsey Zimmerman is a sophomore studying Strategic Communications and specializing in Spanish. You can follow her on Twitter at @lindseyzim716.

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