Avoiding Social Media Crises

TweetSocial media: we love it. It’s the first thing we see in the morning and the last thing we see before bed. We can’t be away from it for more than two hours, and that’s even pushing it. As much as we love social media and want to believe it will never turn its back on us, it is possible that it could happen if we aren’t careful. It could turn into our own worst enemy.

We are always representing a brand in some way, shape or form. Whether that brand is a company, a team, or ourselves, what we decide to post on social media reflects that brand. One tweet can cause an enormous social media crisis.

In order to avoid a social media crisis there are a few steps a brand can take:

Engage, engage, engage. It is important to engage with your audience. Dialogue helps build a brand’s personality and create trust. If a crisis were to happen, your audience would already have a sense of loyalty and confidence in you.

Have a plan. Problems are sure to arise at some point when it comes to social media. If you have a plan on what steps need to be taken if and when a crisis arrives, it will make life a lot easier.

Don’t try to brush mistakes under the rug. Transparency is key with an audience. In order to gain trust, you have to acknowledge criticism and deal with any issues right away.

Be cool. It is hard to be criticized, especially when a problem was never your intent. Don’t get defensive with your audience. Apologize, own up to your mistakes, and be cool.

Why wouldn’t we love social media? It connects us to the rest of the world and brings people together. As much as we love it, we have to be careful with it. It can turn its back on us and break our hearts at the tap of a screen. If we use these steps, we can keep our brands flawless and representative of who we are.

-Annie Beard is a junior studying strategic communication. Follow her at @annie_beard.

Promoting Outside the Box: Innovative PR Stunts

Public relations professionals are always on their toes, anticipating what’s next. PR is an industry that is constantly on the verge of change and perpetually in motion. Today’s consumer market is so highly competitive, it forces PR brains to extend beyond traditional promotional tactics and stand out innovatively. Teams work to creatively break through a clutter of brands targeting the same audiences by staging PR stunts.

Small Girl PromTake Small Girls PR’s 30 Days of Prom stunt, for example. Two small girls delved into the glamorous, glittery world of prom by wearing a different Tiza.com prom dress every day for 30 days.  Fashion-crazed, prom-ready teens could follow the activities on a tumblr page to explore prom tips and tricks, and maybe even participate in the challenge themselves. The stunt concluded with a prom event hosted my Styleite, Tumblr, and Tiza.com.

Girls all over the country fell in love with prom again. 30 Days of Prom was even featured in Elle Girl, Glamour and The Gloss, just to name a few. This genius PR stunt created major buzz and hyped the anticipation for girls to find their perfect prom dress via Tiza.com. 30 Days of Prom caught the attention of many, and made Tiza.com stand out as a leading prom dress supplier.

Other mastermind PR stunts include Chevy’s aerial attraction, where Chevy sent a new Sonic sedan out of an airplane and streamed a video of its airborne free-fall on YouTube, generating millions of views. Someone please tell me that they would not be curious to see this?

As young professionals, here’s how we can get our creative wheels turning.

1. Think outside of the box. Tear down all the boundaries that box-in traditional PR tactics. Think beyond city limits, beyond American culture and beyond objectives. Think big and get creative.

2. Recognize that no idea is stupid. Anything can lead to something big and great. Pitch all your ideas, even if you think they’re stupid, because there is always a possibility that your small, silly and underdeveloped idea will snowball into something buzz-worthy.

3. Use your resources. Pull from all angles that are available to you to either create or implement a stunt. What lies in your bag of resources? Printing, street festivals, influential people, college libraries, anything at all can help exponentially.

4. Find what engages your audience and run with it. Hosting PR stunts will only get you so far. Along with a head-turning stunt, take the conversation online. Facilitate a dialogue that engages the audience with your brand, placing the stunt at the center of conversation.

Everyday brands pull out their swords and battle against the cluttered market population to win the hearts of consumers, especially within the plethora of logos, slogans, billboards and blogs. Attracting attention demands innovative, out-of-the-box PR stunts. Brilliant PR stunts can work wonders for your brand’s reputation and recognition, and it all begins with out-of-the-box, innovative thinking.

-Marisa Dockum is a junior communications studies major with a global leadership certificate. Follow her at @MarisaDockum

Finding Your PR Bliss

Screen Shot 2013-06-27 at 10.08.25 PMTake a look around you… do you notice that public relations surrounds you? It’s the logo on your shirt, the signs on the subway you ride, the shampoo that you use, the news that you read, the cereal you have eaten since you were five… and the list goes on. PR is everywhere, everything we know and see is communicating in some way.

The fact that PR is everywhere is great! It means that as public relations professionals we can work in any industry or with clients that specialize in things we have a passion for, whether it’s food, travel, construction, politics, interior design, fashion… shall I continue?

But how do we find what makes us happy in the workplace? How can we find our “PR bliss” before the real world full of bills and nine-to-fives hits? The answer is simple: we must explore. We must explore our options, our likes, our dislikes, the known and unknown. College students are granted four whole years to explore student organizations, internships, classes and friendships to realize what makes us unhappy and to pinpoint what we enjoy.

The more opportunities that you take advantage of, the closer you will get to discovering your PR bliss. Go forth, and explore:

Engage in conversation. Get out there and network. Absorb your verbal encounters that can lead to new information, a new point of view on things or a future opportunity.

X-out all your dislikes. For example, if you aren’t a fan of Twitter, then you know social media isn’t for you. By deciphering your dislikes you can x-out all the paths that won’t lead you to bliss.

Portray yourself. Be who you want to be. Be proud of the person you are and own your characteristics. Being yourself will help narrow down your path to bliss, and will internally distinguish what you want out of your life.

List your hobbies and interests. Do you like sports? Most pro athletes or teams have PR staff. Do you like technology? I’m pretty sure Apple’s brand didn’t invent itself. Are you a film buff? I don’t think red carpet premiere events plan themselves. Your list of likes will lay out potential career paths that will make you happy.

Opportunities; take advantage of them all. You never know, maybe singing at karaoke night will reveal a love for music. Or taking a corporate internship will prove you’re meant for something along the lines of a non-profit. Every experience will help guide you in the right direction of your PR bliss.

Read. The more you read, the more you know. Whether you read news, gossip magazines, novels or online blogs, literature will introduce you to things outside of your local bubble and will help you explore the unknown.

Expect the unexpected and don’t be afraid of change. You’re going to make mistakes, curve balls will be thrown at you, and how you deal with the unexpected will define what you are cut out for in the PR world.

With PR, the opportunities are endless and finding your PR bliss is a journey, but when you explore all your options and interests your path will become clearer and clearer, and you’ll eventually arrive at your destination of bliss. 

-Marisa Dockum is a junior communications studies major with a global leadership certificate. Follow her at @MarisaDockum.