There’s No ‘I’ in Team

By: Allison Evans, @Allison_Evans

Teamwork and team spirit

We all love that public relations can take us down many avenues, and that no two resumes are the same. However, no matter which workplace you choose, you will have to be a team player. I’ve had so many valuable experiences to teach me what that means, and how far you may need to go for the people we respect and care for.

Team Client

The internship I took on as a freshman taught me that clients value humility and service in their representatives. I advocated for people with developmental disabilities, in the form of marketing their capabilities to local businesses, with the hope of creating employment opportunities for them. In other words, their finances and employment depended on our office. I can’t think of a moment where I felt more accomplished than when my clients opened their checks at the end of the week. I was a part of their team. They needed me, so I needed to do my job for them.

Team Community

One of the largest parts of our job as PR professionals is to inform the community. Working for the Department of Transportation taught me that people really do depend on the information they receive. In this case, knowing the conditions of the roadways meant their safety was dependent on that information. This extended to impaired driving workshops at the local colleges, helping students stay safe.

Our Team

There is no accomplishment within public relations that comes from a single person. With every project produced, there is a group of people that came together to produce it, and that is where the value lies within our profession. My internship with Global Prairie taught how to be a respected member of the internal team by having me cover for someone who was sick, stay late to meet a deadline, answer the phone when I was off and to do anything I could to make life easier for my teammates.

My resume may be full, and the words on it reflect my accomplishments. I am not blind, however, to the fact that these successes are not just my own, and that I couldn’t begin to tackle communication without the help of so many. Where would I be without my teams? I can hardly imagine.

Finding the perfect pitch: social media lessons from an a Capella perspective

By: Catrina Lang @trinalang13

Becoming a member of The Tempo Tantrums, an all female a Capella group here on campus has been one of the best and most unique experiences I’ve had in college so far. Making pop music come to life with nothing but our voices is a challenging but rewarding task. Throughout my first two years with the group, I’ve learned a lot about different musical elements such as tone, pitch and harmony. What I’ve come to realize is that many of the same tools that we use to create beautiful music can also be applied to craft and implement successful social media strategies.

TT1

  1. Tone. In music, a tone can be described as a “steady, periodic sound”. Before creating a successful social media strategy, you must first figure out your brand’s tone on social media. This tone should be steady and consistent so as not to confuse the audience or potential customer. The tone should be a positive representation of your brand. Brands can consistently choose to adopt a humorous, professional, fun, educational, or various other types tone throughout all of their social media outlets. The key is keeping it consistent.
  1. Harmony. Constructing harmonies is one of the most important things to focus on when singing a Capella music. Each voice part is singing different notes, but they all come together to form chords that sound like a cohesive whole. This is important to keep in mind when using multiple different social media platforms as well. Even though each platform presents unique opportunities (such as tweets versus Instagram photos), it’s important to keep in mind the consistency of the brand that you are trying to portray. As long as you keep in mind the goal of the brand when utilizing different platforms, you can successfully use each different platform to get across the same brand message for your client.

TT2

  1. Audience. One of the most important elements of performing is keeping in mind your audience, and how to best connect with them in different situations. When my group is presented with a potential gig, we have to decide which songs to sing, what to wear, etc. to best relate with the client, while still keeping our own personal brand in mind. For example, we will choose different songs, attire, and introductions for a gig at a nursing home than we would for a gig at a coffee shop. Keeping in mind your target audience when you launch a new social media outlet or campaign will help you connect with your audience on a deeper level overall. Some questions to ask yourself could include:
    1. What kind of perceptions does my audience already have of the brand?
    2. What are some aspects of the brand that would best appeal to a particular audience?
    3. How does the targeted audience currently use social media?

Gathering the data and information to answer these questions will help you create the best social media strategy that keeps both your targeted audience and your own personal brand in mind.

When creating a social media strategy, keep in mind the tone, audience and harmony of your social media outlets – in the end it will greatly increase the impact of your brand. I have learned by performing with The Tempo Tantrums that giving your audience what they want while maintaining your personal image and brand with help you hit all of the right notes.

 

Why Ebola is the Perfect PR Client

By: Meredith Broadwater @Mere_Broadwater

ebolaWe all know Ebola as the possibly fatal disease that everyone’s afraid of getting, but not a lot of people know what it really is – however they’re paying attention to it.

Public relations can change the way people identify one product, or disease in this case, compared to another. Ebola is one-of-a-kind, so it’s the most ideal client for a public relations professional.

  1. Ebola is already internationally known. Part of the job is already done! Everyone knows the client, but the problem is that it’s a negative image because it’s a disease (obviously). However, not a lot of people know what it actually is. When you tell people something about Ebola, they’ll pay attention because they don’t want to die.

    A little Ebola lesson: According to the CDC there are only three confirmed cases in the United States, all in Texas.

  2. People are scared, so they’ll pay attention to messages about it. According to a New York Post article, airline sales are going down because people don’t want to risk getting infected by another passenger. People have been canceling flights, selling their airline stocks and taking other steps to avoid flying.
    People continue to take drastic measures to avoid getting a disease that three out of 319 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with.

    Ebola is only spread through body fluids and blood, it’s not airborne, but the virus can live on objects (like doorknobs and counters) for up to a few hours.

  3. Ebola isn’t selfish. It understands that you have other things to do. It’s selfish because it’s a virus and wants to contaminate everything it comes in contact with, besides your job as a PR professional. It understands that there are other clients to deal with and classes to study for because when you come back to it, it’s still there. Ebola will always be there for you.
  4. Your market is defined for you: every human being. Part of public relations is finding your target market, but with Ebola, anyone can get it. The CDC has no evidence that dogs or cats can get the virus, so your pets are safe. Your message will be broad, but that makes it more exciting!
  5. Ebola has a story to tell. It may not have traveled through seven levels of the Candy Cane forest, or through the sea of swirly twirly gumdrops, but it came from somewhere. 

Summer Reflection Series: Erica Stonehill

3 Lessons, 2 Jobs, 1 Summer: Where PR, Panera, and Aeropostale overlap

By: Erica Stonehill @estonehill13

panera

This summer I took on the exhausting task of working two jobs. I’ve been a tried and true Panera Bread employee for going on three years, and recently landed a position at the local Aeropostale. After learning more about public relations in the past year, I’ve noticed on more than one occasion how my current jobs intermix with my future career.

  • The customer is always right – As frustrating as it may be sometimes, you are employed to make others happy. That is your job. If a customer requests no broccoli in her broccoli cheddar soup, you will stand there and fish every green tree out of her bowl because you are paid to please.

    Very rarely does a customer/client leave unsatisfied and only think poorly of the one person they dealt with – the blame falls back on the entire company. Sally Smith didn’t give me loads of broccoli in my soup, Panera Bread did. You are the face of an entire company, and your mistakes become everyone’s mistakes. Please the client at all costs, because one bad review can outshine ten outstanding ones.

  • You will never know it all – My first few shifts at Aeropostale were nerve racking. I was so used to being a veteran at Panera that it was terrifying to be the new kid again. Retail and fast food are two totally different ball games, and I realized that immediately. I had to adapt to the different environment quickly and understand both types of customers that I was working for.

    When working in the food industry you’re expected to greet the customer and be friendly, but quick. Get them their food and move on. Retail requires a conversation, the building of trust and ability to relate to the customer. The same goes for PR. Some clients will want to build a relationship with you and others will want the job done quickly and clean. You have to be able to adapt and read your client. Everyone is different, and it’s your job to please them all.

  • Loyalty goes a long way – I’ve had the pleasure of gaining “regulars” at Panera, this summer. I opened almost five days a week, and as a result, I see a lot of the same customers on a weekly (or daily) basis. One particular lady came in every morning, and instead of bringing her Panera card, has me look it up by her phone number. After a few visits I had her number memorized, and now when she comes in, she knows I already have her squared away. Last week I forgot her coffee when she came through the drive thru, but because I had built a sense of loyalty with her she was understanding and didn’t get upset when she had to come back for it.

    Treat each client as an individual rather than a task, and they will notice. In the event that you do make a mistake, they’re more likely to understand and excuse it. There are plenty of other companies they could go to. Remind them every day why yours is the better choice and it will not only keep your relationship strong, but it will bring in new clients as well.

Even though I didn’t have an internship this summer like many of my fellow classmates, I still tried to gain knowledge and experiences from my two jobs. I was surprised by how much they connected back to public relations. Doing whatever to please the client, giving yourself room to grow in everything you do, and building loyalty with your clients are three important parts of PR, as well as retail or fast food. My summer wasn’t all glitz and glamour in a big city, but I learned a few things that I will be able to use in the future.

 

 

 

Do’s and Don’ts of Media Relations

By: Becca Zook @BeccaZook

phoneIf you ask the average person whether they know the difference between Public Relations and Media Relations, chances are they don’t. However, if you ask any communications professional they will tell you that media relations cannot be used interchangeably with public relations.

Public relations involves connecting and creating a relationship between various publics and your organization/business. This means managing communication between consumers, charities, investors, industries, as well as the media.

Media relations is a specialized part of public relations, that focuses on getting as much positive coverage for your organization/business as possible. This involves creating a working relationship with all types of media outlets: broadcast, print and online.

Creating a relationship with media outlets can be difficult. This means making journalists, you’re friends. Which everyone knows journalism and public relations don’t exactly see eye-to-eye. Journalists want a good story, while public relations professionals want good news. If you’re just starting out in media relations, calling up a local news channel or the editor of a large paper can be intimidating, but here are a few Do’s and Don’ts of Media Relations to make it a little easier.

DO: Make Connections on Social Media

Social media is more than just a fun way to connect with your friends. In today’s communication world, it’s a tool. Use it. Connect with different news outlets (from a professional account, of course, Channel 6 really doesn’t care that you made ‘totes delicious’ cookies yesterday #yum). If you have a published story about how an Ohio University Alumni made an impact in your organization, go ahead and tweet/share it with WOUB, the Athens News and The Post.

DON’T: Be Pushy.

No journalist enjoys getting 30 calls/emails a day from anyone, let alone from a media relations specialist. Do not badger them. The more you irritate them, they less likely they are to work with you in the future. Be nice to the reporter.

DON’T: Be a Pushover.

Just because you shouldn’t be pushy, doesn’t mean you should let people walk all over you. If you are trying to get media coverage of an event, don’t let them blow you off. If they can’t speak right now, ask when is a better time to call back and set up a time.

DO: Make Follow-up Calls

If you send out an email news release and don’t receive a response within a day or two, call. I can’t count the number of times I’ve made a follow up call and discovered that the release got lost in a sea of emails. Calling makes them take notice of the release and increases your chances of getting it published.

Hint: The best follow-up calls are not direct and instead offer assistance.

“Hello, this is Awesome Media Relations Expert with Significant Organization calling about the press release that I sent you on Tuesday. I was just calling to see if you had any questions regarding Extremely News Worthy/Relevant Event…”

DO: Know Whom You Are Pitching To.

Every media outlet has their own audience, and it’s your job to package your news in a way that appeals to that audience. Do you’re best to explain to them why this story is important and news worthy. The media is not going to publish a story promoting your business; that is not their job. You have to find an angle that sparks their interest.

DO: Be Friendly and Unique.

No one wants to talk to someone who is rude or boring. Being professional does not mean losing all personality! The more people like you, the more likely they will listen to you when you talk. This is what will make or break you in any communications field. Feel free to establish a good relationship with editors – it will help you, I promise.

DON’T: Be Intimidated. (Well, At Least Don’t Show It If You Are Intimidated.)

This is your job; it’s what media relations professionals do. Media outlets are not going to take you seriously if you act shy or nervous. Be confident; if you believe in your organization and show it when you talk to the media, they’ll believe in it too. And before you know it you’ll start to see coverage all over the Internet, press, television and radio!

 

 

What PR people actually do

KERRY WASHINGTONWe have all experienced it before at family gatherings when our relatives ask what we are going to school for, and then we see their looks of confusion as we try to explain what our majors actually are. As much as I wish I could say that after graduation we all move onto be the next Olivia Pope, or even a gladiator for that matter, it’s not always like that. It’s often perceived that the role of Public Relations is an unethical career filled with lies and covering up mistakes of the clients, but that is very far from the truth of what PR professionals do.

Public relations professionals work to obtain free publicity for their client. This can be done in any number of ways – traditionally press releases are sent to journalists containing the information needed to write a positive story about their clients. A press release is a compelling news story that makes it clear why the client’s service, product, announcement or personal history is important. It is usually very short, and the goal is to make it easier for the journalist, however it is not controlled media.

One thing I think our generation can agree on as aspiring PR professionals, is that we could not be happier that social media is becoming a huge aspect of the job for PR professionals. Social media is a great tool brands use to reach customers and it’s FREE. For example, Oreo utilized the opportunity of the power outrage in the 2013 Super Bowl, to tweet one of the most famous and memorable tweets of 2013. Social media makes free publicity one tap of the finger away from the consumer. PR professionals are their own type of genius when it comes to utilizing the social media outlets.

PR professionals are also trained to do damage control. This is where the Olivia Pope aspect does come into play. “All publicity is good publicity”, well we all can think of a time where that is not always the case. Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber’s recent actions in the public eye are just a few examples of where all publicity is not always considered good publicity. One piece of bad press can change how the consumers perceive a brand. For example, when a woman said she found a finger in her chili from Wendy’s, (even though it was a false accusation) how many of us waited a few months or even years before trying Wendy’s chili again? PR professionals will create a ‘PR Crisis Management Plan’ to respond quickly and proactively when a story breaks that could hurt their reputation. This is a way to map out how the brand will react to the crisis and what their next steps need to be.

What’s unique about working in PR is that every day is different. As rising PR stars, our majors might seem confusing or unethical to those who do not take the time to notice that PR is everywhere. Next time you see a mind-blowing creative tweet or press release issued only minutes after ground breaking event, know that there is a team of PR stars who live to make that happen.

Chelsea Amato is a junior studying Strategic Communications. You can follow her on Twitter at @Chelsea_Amato.

How to Communicate for a Complex Client

This summer I had an amazing opportunity to work for a company ranked within the top ten of their industry in QuestionAmerica. Their industry? Trash. I was more than a little nervous accepting the position; my knowledge of trash stopped at the curb.

I wasn’t sure how I was going to properly communicate their needs when I didn’t understand their business. Luckily, with a little guidance from supervisors and some serious personal effort, I now consider myself an expert at talking trash.

Check out the competition. The quickest way to get an early idea about an industry is to research your company’s competition. The more sources you have, the more information you have. By reading up on competition you get a more extensive idea of trends in the industry and a better understanding of what sets your company apart.

Keep up with industry news. Even the most niche industries have outlets designated to publish trends.  In terms of trash, I was regularly reading at least three different websites designated solely to discussing garbage and recycling. Not every article published by these outlets will connect to your client’s specific needs. However, understanding the ins and outs of the business as a whole can help you communicate more effectively and understand how other departments work, a necessity if you are working with internal communications. Which leads me to…

Get to know other departments. Especially when surrounded by fellow communications professionals, it is easy to lose sight of how other people understand and discuss different ideas. Mingling with people in other departments provides a new perspective that your coworkers may not be able to provide. They can also be a great resource when dealing with an especially difficult problem. Have a customer with a rare or new problem? Perhaps sales can better understand how to create a solution.

Ask questions. As an entry-level employee or an intern questions are not only expected, they are encouraged. In order to avoid feeling insecure about lack of knowledge, try asking “why?” instead of “what?” For example: “Why do we use a different social media platform than Competitor X?” This shows not only shows a commitment to learning, it also allows for an even more in-depth explanation.

Taking on communication for a client you don’t quite understand can be extremely intimidating. On the flip side, it offers an opportunity for growth and to prove yourself as a true communications professional. If you can become an expert about a niche industry, what can’t you do?

-Darby Fledderjohn is a senior studying strategic communication with specializations in business and sociology. Follow her at @dfledderjohn.