Ohio University ImPRessions

Ohio University ImPRessions

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Making us PRoud: Why Public Relations isn’t Evil

June 18, 2014

By: Sydney Gardner @sydneygardner

We know the looks. We know the stereotypes. Public relations professionals and students are not unfamiliar to fact that they are not everyone’s’ #1 fan. We’ve heard it all before. We’re greedy, we lie and cheat, and we cover up the truth and sensationalize the lies.  However, the field of public relations should not be blindly bashed. Public relations’ good effects can be seen all over from the smallest local campaigns to large international promotions.

Within the last decade a large part of PR has been focused on social media, and for good reason. Social media has the power to gather people all over the world together to make a difference. UNICEF Sweden’s “Likes Don’t Save Lives” campaign is their most successful social media campaign to date. Guess who came up with the campaign that was able to raise enough money to vaccinate thousands of children? Their PR people were able to harness the popularity of social media to create a call to action that makes a real difference.

Some PR campaigns aren’t even focused on getting anything from the customer except their loyalty. In 2010, Kleenex hoped to do just that with their “Feel Good” campaign. Kleenex took the time to send a surprise care package to just 50 sick people (who weren’t even customers!), and in return their surprise was shared by 100% of recipients on their personal Facebook pages. Kleenex was able to create 650,000 impressions on social media from all over the world.

If you haven’t already seen our last example, grab your cup of cocoa and get ready to wish it was December. WestJet’s Christmas Miracle promotion is very much a PR campaign, but that doesn’t mean it was bad. WestJet’s PR team was able to create and execute a campaign that genuine made people feel good by giving them exactly what they wanted (literally). They didn’t lie, and they didn’t cover up anything, but that doesn’t mean that they were not executing an extraordinary PR plan.

Whether it was that tweet from your favorite company that made you laugh, or that campaign that took a grass roots organization and thrust it into every water cooler conversation across the U.S., public relations is not a field that should be viewed with distain. So if you are one who is not a fan of PR professionals, just remember that the bad actions of a few should not form your decision of a whole.

Do’s and Don’ts of Media Relations

June 6, 2014 4 Comments

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!

 

 

The Origins of PR

June 2, 2014 1 Comment

By: Amanda Moline @mandamoline

prFor many of us in ImPRessions and PRSSA here at Ohio University, PR is life. If we’re being completely honest with ourselves, #PRlove is the hashtag that has appeared on most of our Twitter feeds and bios at some point in time. We live, breathe and tweet PR, but where exactly did it originate?

In 2,200 B.C.E., an Egyptian pharaoh had an advisor that acted as a medium between the pharaoh and the people, providing truthful facts and communicating with the pharaoh’s people on his behalf. Even back in Ancient Greece, they had a word for our beloved PR, and that was sematikos, meaning to signify or mean. Julius Caesar even dabbled in the PR field with his work Caesar’s Gallic, in which he publicized himself to the Roman people as the best candidate for the head of state by highlighting his many military accomplishments.

If you think back to your high school American History class, you might remember Thomas Paine. Paine was a true public relations genius, as many of his writings. His pamphlet “The Crisis,” changed the way people viewed certain topics in the early history of America, and even evoked action from early Americans.

Have you ever wondered when the first press release was published? Surprisingly, it wasn’t what is now considered the world’s most famous press release, our country’s very own Declaration of Independence. King’s College, now known as Columbia University, dubbed the first press release in 1758 in order to inform the public about the specifics of its graduation ceremony.

Public relations became an “official” profession back in 1903 when Ivy Lee became Rockefeller’s go-to guy to clear up his image while many of the miners working at his coal mines were on strike. Lee created specific principles of public relations to make the field more professional, which included always telling the truth and giving the people accurate facts.

According to Stuart Ewen, “The history of PR is a history of a battle for what is reality and how people will see and understand reality.” Though the field of public relations is ever-changing with the rise technology, the idea behind public relations has been embedded in our history for thousands of years and is a crucial way of spreading information and ideas. So don’t fret, my fellow ImPRession-ers – the world of public relations is here to st

All You Need is a Little Facebook Love

May 20, 2014

By: Austin Ambrose @tex_ambrose7

dislikeFacebook has more than one billion users. That’s one billion people ready to criticize something that is not in compliance with their views. As PR professionals, it is crucial to take this criticism gracefully, and know how to handle a potentially harmful situation. Contrary to our initial instincts, never, ever try and refute any bad publicity. Firstly, you would be igniting a fire in the person who commented. Secondly, based on associative network theories and principles, refuting a bad rumor or post will actually make people believe it more.

Yes, Facebook is a platform with a lot of users and we are terrified by one tiny negative post that will ruin us, but we have to remember that there are probably more positive posts – heavily outweighing the negative. Studies have shown that the best way to handle a negative comment is to talk about all the good in your company or brand. People will begin to start associating your name with the positive comments you’re outputting, instead of the one negative post you received.

A less effortful approach to dealing with the comment, but still highly effective, is to completely avoid the comment altogether. If you never mention the comment, then there is no reason for more people to be drawn to the issue. There is a chance for a few avid readers to catch the comment, but that doesn’t mean it is going to affect their perspective of your company or brand, especially if the comment stands alone.

One brand that should be noted for handling negative comments so intelligently is Honey Maid. Their recent campaign, “This is Wholesome,” focuses on families that shows support for gay and mixed-race parents, because every type of a family is a family.

After receiving some hateful comments, Honey Maid decided to spin this negativity into something positive. They printed out all of the negative comments that people posted, rolled up these sheets of paper and had two artists spell out “Love” with the rolled up sheets. Then they printed out and rolled up all the positive comments and surrounded the negative with the positive, showing how many more positive comments there were than negative. They created a short video to show their response and the process of this artistic creation. BuzzFeed covered the story and has the video, which you should check out.

Honey Maid took more of a direct approach to handling criticism, but it was done in a way that was smart, creative and meaningful. Sometimes negative comments may require a more drastic approach such as this one. However, most times, one little negative comment on Facebook is not worth the worry or effort. You, as the professional, have to be the gauge to determine what sort of action (if any) should be taken.

Putting the Personal in Personal Branding

May 14, 2014 3 Comments

By: Megan Newton @_megannewton 

 

branding

Brand (n): kind, grade, or make, as indicated by a stamp, trademark.

In public relations, everything is branded. We are constantly brainstorming new tactics and strategies to further strengthen our client’s brand and image. However, in today’s communication industry, branding goes so much farther than just tweets and slogans. Branding has become personal.

Personal branding is a huge up and coming trend for PR professionals. It allows us to create a memorable presence that represents both our professional and personal qualities.

The question presented here though, is how do we create a brand that represents us as a person and not an object? The answer to this is that we need to take personal branding so much farther than what we currently know. People are so much more than just colors, descriptive words and personal logos. Here’s a few ways to do so:

Find your voice.

Sometimes social media causes users to come across as robotic and monotone. Creating a voice allows others to get to know your personality and sense of humor, which will lead to many more genuine connections and interactions.

Don’t feel limited.

People are walking smorgasbords of so many different things that come together to make them who they are. You don’t have to limit yourself to one specific concept that you incorporate into your personal brand. Odds are, you aren’t one type of person – and that’s a good thing! Are you bright, bold, charismatic, dedicated, passionate and personable? Combine it all together in a conglomeration to represent you in the best way possible.

Be your complete and honest self.

Nothing ruins the authenticity of a personal brand more than fakeness. Be unique! Let your true personality and colors shine through to create the most accurate and honest representation of who you are. If you let your vulnerability and emotions come through in your work, you can’t go wrong.

Have fun with it.

Personal branding should be fun and exciting – not a task. Allow your creativity to shine through because that represents you as well! Take risks and put yourself out there.

Remember, this is your first impression.

The way you showcase yourself over social media outlets is the first impression most people will have of you, so really take the time to think about how you would want people to think of and see you for the first time.

There is a huge difference between the branding for a product and the branding for a professional. With similar concepts, there is one goal in mind – to showcase the best representation of their client. In this case, your client is yourself. Each person has a story and is so much more complex than a product.

How do you really want to be represented?

Keeping Ethics in Mind

March 18, 2014

ethicallyUnlike some professions, we as journalists/communicators do not have to be certified in any way to work. This is a gift and a curse for us. We don’t have anyone telling us what is right or wrong, instead we have to form our own ethical code alone. Fortunately there are organizations that help us out, but the ethical codes are either general or vary from company to company. We need to be aware of our ethics, and know when we have gone too far and crossed that invisible boundary. Unlike news and information journalism, PR professionals have to work with the client and the general public. With this in mind here are some ethical issues that you should be aware of when working in the field.

  • Independence: Independence is the biggest ethical problem a PR professional can face. You want to please your client and do as they wish, but you also have an obligation to communicate with the public in an effective manner. These two ideas don’t always match up. As professionals, we need to make decisions that will please both the client and the public. In most cases, both sides will have to give a little. There will be instances that one side will get the better end of the stick, but knowing you acted independently is better than knowing someone else influenced your decision. Make the decisions that you think are best. Having two mouths to feed makes it more difficult, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible.
  • Transparency: This is another major ethical dilemma for PR professionals. Again, being a barrier is difficult, but if you are open and communicate well with both parties, at least they know you aren’t hiding anything from them Let the public know why you make the decisions you do, and be sure that the client is always aware of your decisions. Transparency is key to a happy client relationship.
  • Honesty: The final ethical value I will talk about is the importance of being honest and truthful. Providing the truth and not deceiving the public is very important in PR. If the public finds out that the information is false or distorted, then they will lose trust in your client. Also remember to be honest with your client. If you don’t think something will work, tell him/her. Clients need to know what you think and how you can make it better. Otherwise it will only cause problems down the road. Truth is highly valued in our profession, so remember to always keep it a priority.

There are many other ethical values, but these three have a major impact on our work. I encourage you all to make up your own code of ethics to keep in mind. We all have different values so write down yours to refer back to it. If you need help visit the PRSA Code of Ethics to get some ideas.

Austin Ambrose is a freshman studying Journalism. He is an Assistant Account Executive for the College Book Store account and you can follow him on Twitter at @tex_ambrose7.

5 TED Talks to Inspire the PR PRo

December 18, 2013

TED Talks are multi-length videos featuring forward-thinkers in the professional world sharing their experiences and  knowledge.  As PR junkies, we are constantly looking for new ways to innovate and reach into the depths of our creativity.

These clips are a great way to hear about others’ discoveries and how they have climbed the ladder of success.  Here are a few TED Talks videos that could inspire you along your PR journey to achievement:

1. Amy Cuddy: Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are

Whether it was McDonalds or that dream internship, we all can recall the butterflies from our first interview.  Confidence is an obvious must to obtain a 5-star performance, but a simple change in your body language before that small step into the interrogation room could give you the confidence you thought only “that girl” had.

Amy Cuddy, a successful scientist, has studied human body language and how it affects our bodies and brains.  Her studies have shown that not only do others subconsciously judge you, but you also subconsciously judge yourself.  Powerful body language results in a powerful you!

2. Nigel Marsh: How to Make Work-life Balance Work

PR majors are some of the most innovative and dedicated people in the work force.  We are extremely passionate about our careers and it’s easy for us to become soaked up in the amazing work that we do.  Public Relations is a highly demanding career as all of us who are preparing to enter its thrilling dynamics know.  In order to live a happy life it’s important to remember to find your balance.

Nigel Marsh, CEO and author, relates his experience as a hard working professional to his overall happiness and success through 4 observations.  His words of wisdom encourage us to remember that the smallest investments in the right places can largely impact our quality of life.

3. Alexis Ohanian: How to Make a Splash in Social Media

This short video tells a tale about an environmental organization’s efforts to stop a Japanese whaling campaign.  Alexis Ohanian gives us insight through some unexpected repercussions of a “Mister Splashy Pants” whale meme and its surprising success.

What’s the secret to a great social media crusade? It’s simple: LOSE CONTROL!  Spreading awareness across social media puts all control in the hands of day to day social media users.  Sometimes losing that control, can cause a serious message to thrive in an astonishingly silly way.

4. The Happy Secret to Better Work

PR experts know that being average won’t get you far.  Shawn Achor, the CEO of Good Think Inc., believes society pushes us into a norm, and he wants to explore the outliers.  He inspires the audience to think differently about how they view their road to achievement.

With his comedic charm he preaches the steps to rewire our brains into believing happiness can lead us to success.   Next time when your brain is on PR overload, keep in mind that a positive attitude can produce progressive results.

5. How to Make Stress Your Friend

Stress. WOW. I know I don’t even have to say it, but we all can relate to high stress lives, even more so as prospective PR pros.  Kelly McGonigal, a Stanford clinical psychologist, has studied stress and has landed on some amazing discoveries about our thoughts toward our stress levels and how these thoughts can impact our health.

The key is how you look at it! Negative stress can be a killer (literally), but viewing your stress positively can actually cause your body to mimic its reaction to joy and happiness.

-Jillian Kata is a sophomore studying strategic communication. Follow her at @jil_k.

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