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How to Successfully Prepare for Black Friday

November 25, 2014

Without the misuse of prescription drugs

By: OU ImPRessions Prescribe Change account @PrescribeChange

With your stomach full and your eyes starting to close you remember that in six hours you are supposed to be in front of Best Buy’s door for their Black Friday sale – leading the crowd to the HD TV section, and grabbing the 36-inch TV for pocket change. Regret courses through you when you think about all the good food you just ate that will weigh you down and slow your reaction time. What do you do?

Yes, your brother’s Adderall is in the medicine cabinet, but that’s risky and your Mom just spent 20 minutes talking about how thankful she is for you, so that’s out.

What do you do? How else can you be a Black Friday shopping beast?

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  1. Take a nap. According to research the perfect nap time is 27 minutes – take two just because this is the shopping Olympics, and odds are most of your family is doing it anyways. You still have plenty of time before you’re due to go.
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  2. Jumping Jacks. Do 100 jumping jacks 30 minutes before leaving to elevate your heart rate and pump your blood. Not only will it help digest that extra slice of pumpkin pie, but will also release epinephrine (also known as adrenaline), which will help you grab the TV right out of that soccer mom’s hands.
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  3. Eat an Apple. Apples don’t have caffeine like the caramel macchiato offers, but it also doesn’t have the crash shortly after. Because of the high amount of sugar in the caramel macchiato, it raises your blood sugar levels and gives you a sugar rush equal to six ounces of a Coca-Cola. So grab a granny smith as you kiss your real grandma good-bye to help prepare.
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  4. Hydrate. Dehydration can cause fatigue, so drink up while you are in line to make sure that when you get your hands on the prize, they grip tight enough to keep it in your possession.
  5. dog5Have fun. This event only comes around once a year, don’t forget to pause and laugh at all those who take Black Friday way too seriously. As mom always said, “time flies when you are having fun.”

Prescribe Change is part of The Young Adult Prevention Initiative, which is a community-based coalition of residents, businesses, organizations, professionals and advocates collaborating to prevent and reduce prescription drug abuse in 18-25 year olds in Fairfield County, OH. Drawing upon the unique qualities of this population the coalition will establish high quality addiction prevention initiatives that are data driven, effective and sustainable.

It’s Okay to Ask for Help

November 25, 2014

By: Sophia Ciancone @sophia_ciancone

helpAs dedicated students and motivated Public Relations Professionals of the future, we tend to take on more work than we can handle. We join organizations and dedicate ourselves to them. We slave away over homework and studying for exams and we still attempt to have a social life. But, one thing we forget to do is ask for help. An incredibly talented group of Scripps students and an impressive set of professors and professionals around us7, yet we still fail to ask for their help in our most busy, stressful times. Asking for help does not mean accepting defeat. So, here are 3 reasons it’s crucial for us to ask for help:

  1. Preventing a catastrophic meltdown will save your sanity. We all have been exposed to a serious meltdown in the midst of a hectic week. Breakdowns take up a huge amount of time that could be dedicated to the work we have to accomplish. If we simply ask a peer for help, we could potentially prevent a meltdown and save a significant amount of time!
  1. Delegating work to others is actually an important asset as a professional. Being able to ask for help and giving other people responsibilities is an important skill that employers look for when hiring. If you are in charge or an organization, ask members of your group to accomplish small things for you and trust them to get them done.
  1. We can learn a lot and expand our ideas when we ask for help. Bringing a fresh mind to an old idea can make it even better and more successful. With more brains comes more creativity. You never know who might have an awesome idea to bring to the table!

So, the next time you are stressing out and on the verge of a breakdown ask someone for help – because it doesn’t mean you are accepting defeat, but that you have the courage to ask.

Search Engine Optimization 101

November 24, 2014

By: Sydney Gardner @sydneygardner

This past summer I spent two months in Southern California interning at the digital marketing firm, SEO Inc. I entered my internship with my only knowledge of SEO being what the letters stood for. After nine weeks of SEO all day, every day, I came out with a not only a knowledge about SEO, but a huge appreciation for what it can do for a company.

What is SEO?
Search engine optimization is a group of techniques used to help a website rank higher organically, and therefore be more visible to people searching for a specific product/service/industry. SEO is a blend of marketing strategy and computer engineering whose goal is to get your page seen.

Organic vs. Paid/Sponsored search

Most SEO focuses on generating high rankings in organic search. Organic search results are those that rank naturally depending on a series of ranking factors. (About 200 if you’re Google). Paid search is also known as pay-per-click (PPC). It’s those “sponsored results” at the top and side of your Google search that someone paid for. In PPC, advertisers pay the publisher each time the ad is clicked.

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Some Page Rank Factors

This is not a comprehensive list of rank factors, but these can help you get a sense of the variety of factors that influence SEO.                                

Domain Age: If your site is new, it’s going to take time and effort to get results. However, if your domain has been around for a few years and isn’t filled with spam, you may have a little extra ranking boost. SEO is not a sprint, and it often takes months to see the fruits of your labor.

Keywords: These are the words you want to be synonymous with your company. It’s often helpful to do research on keywords to see how many people are searching for those. Google has an online keyword tool that can help with keyword research.

Site Size: Large sites with more pages will rank higher, but it important to note that duplicating content on pages in hope of ranking higher will hurt your ranking.

Content Update: The more you update your content – the more active your site appears. Although, the content must be relevant and engaging to users. You have to get people to click and stay on your page.

Content shared: The more your content is shared – the more important you look to search engines.

Backlink profile: Backlinks or inbound links are hyperlinks pointing to a webpage. The more backlinks your site has, the higher your rank can become. However, creating artificial backlinks in order to boost rankings can lead to penalizations from search engines.

External backlinks are links that point to your website from an entirely separate site. 

Internal backlinks are links between individual pages within your site.

Site structure: Having many site errors or bad coding can lower your ranking. Your site navigation should be formatted to make it easy for search engines to crawl through your pages. Stick with navigations based in XHTML and CSS. Make it easy for users and search engines to get to all your pages within your site.

Elements of SEO

These elements play a huge role in how a website is created and maintained for SEO.

On Page: This is aligning your content and Meta data of your webpage with your keywords.

Meta Data: This is information about your site. Meta Keywords tell the search engine what your site is about. Meta descriptions are what users see when your website is ranked in their search results. It is important to use different Meta descriptions for each page of your website.

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Link development: Also known as link popularity, this is when you get other sites to link to your website. The more site that link to you, the more popular Google thinks your site is.

Keyword density: [# of words in keyword X # of times it appears] ÷ # of words in content. The ideal keyword density is 3%-5%.

Reciprocal linking: When two or more websites link back to each other.—this can help increase web traffic done sparingly, but a search engine may also see it as link spamming if overdone.

Blended Search results: These are the results that go beyond a link. They can be image, news, video, blog, etc. results.

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Search engine optimization can come across as a completely foreign concept when you’re first starting out. However, the sooner you can comprehend its value, the better off your site will be. SEO is not a onetime endeavor. Optimizing your site to rank high is a never ending process of cleaning up old content and creating engaging new content. The list of terms and ranking factors may seem overwhelming, but as you begin working with SEO, the benefits outweigh any work.

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 1 Comment

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!

 

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