Musings of a PR Professional

Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the Responses category.

Chapter 1: The Basics of Strategic Communications

Chapter one of Strategic Communications for Nonprofits (a trade book we are using as a textbook in the latest PR class I am taking) by Kathy Bonk, Emily Tynes, Henry Griggs, and Phil Sparks did a good job of reintroducing me to the public relations field. It’s been a year since I have taken a PR course at Clemson, and although I have been practicing PR in the “real world” at my internship, I think it’s quite different to learn than to do so I am thankful for the way this book has eased me back into the field.

As the title notes, the book’s focus is on PR for nonprofits, but the introductory nature of the first chapter lends itself well to pointing out a main theme/tenet every PR professional should follow: “… have a sound, well-planned communications strategy.” It is my belief that a well thought out plan can be one of the most important and useful tools to any PR professional. A fisherman would not sail out to sea without any navigation tools, so why should a PR professional begin their relationship-building efforts without a plan for what they want their message to be and how they will get this message across. Also, a plan is especially important in crisis situations. For example, while it is true that you can never plan for the unexpected, as a PR professional, you should have a general plan for how to handle a PR crisis when one arises.  The authors note, “You need to be in control of events before events control you,” when trying to turn around bad media coverage of your nonprofit. A previously developed plan is the best way to deflect a PR crisis because you can respond in a timely and comprehensive manner.

The idea that a well-prepared communications strategy is a vital part of a nonprofit’s success would be nothing if that strategy was not rooted in the organization’s values, mission, and goals. I think this is another great and relevant point that the authors make in this chapter. A marketing seminar that I attended last week at the Clemson Area Chamber Commerce dealt with the importance of making sure that every marketing effort is focused and in accordance with an organization’s purpose. The speaker emphasized that the beliefs at the core of any type of organization, not just nonprofits, should drive every PR tactic implemented or these efforts would be futile. You are only going to see the results you want if you have clearly outlined what you are trying to achieve and how you would like to achieve it. So, it is important to have a meaningful plan that uses communication as a tool to take your nonprofit where you would like it to go.


Today in class, Dr.V introduced us to Cheryl Harrison, a senior at Captial University in Columbus, OH. Why did Dr. V lead us to another student? Because this girl has something to say. Not only is her resume and site design very impressive, her posts contain a lot of great ideas.

But, it’s definitely not the conent that kept me at her site, perusing through blog posts. What caught my attention (and kept it) was her writting style. Cheryl Harrison has attitude and gives it to you everytime. To me, she’s an inspiration and I can sum up why in one word: Uninhibited.

Her in-your-face insights to the social media world don’t sound like those of a intimidated college student. She sounds like the most confident person in the world, and I want to sound like that too. I want to write blog posts about public relations, social media tools and current events and not worry about what everyone else will think or if I’m right or wrong (and a $125k salary right out of college wouldn’t be so bad either).

So, from this point on, I vow to start taking myself (and this blog) a lot more seriously.

Microblogging, community management, and online communities

Using Twitter for PR

In using twitter for PR, it is a great way for a company or organization to get even more personal and in touch with their publics. While blogs are great, that are only updated once a day, once a week, and maybe even once a month so while you are hearing things about the inside of a company or organization, you’re still largely disconnected. Twitter does away with that. On twitter, the slow-pokes are tweeting once an hour. Through microblogging, the conversations that need to happen to create relationships between companies/organizationsand their publics are occurring in real-time. People are more genuine, more off-the-cuff, and more tangible. As a result, the organization or company becomes more transparent, in a good way. The publics will feel like they matter, that they’re heard, and that they can trust you. It’s less Wizard of Oz and more .

Community Management

The beauty of Twitter and all other social media sites is  the fact that relationships over the Web are becoming more and increasingly more real and genuine. At the same time though, community managers should be aware that being completely yourself all the time is not appropriate. It is important to be professional and keep your personal life personal.

It is interesting to me that I have never thought about social media in this light- that things can possibly get a little to interconnected. I always assumed the more personable the better, but after reading Jeremiah Owyang‘s post Job Hazards of the Community Manager, the risks seem glaring. There is a very fine line between professional-personal and just someone’s friend they get advice from. PR practitioners on the Web now are walking that line everyday. Clearly, community managers are a necessary bridge between organizations/corporations and their publics, but how connected is too connected?

Online Communities: Second Life

We’ve mentioned Second Life a couple of times in class, but have never talked about it in detail. Second Life is an online community in which people create 3-D avatars of themselves and interact with the other player’s avatars in a virtual world. People can be whoever they want, create whatever they want, and do whatever they want. Participants have free reign, though they must abide by a few rules and they do function under an economy.  The entire community is brought to the public by Linden Lab, Inc. which specializes in streaming media technologies.

Second Life seems to be primarily a source of entertainment. However, according to the site there are the same business opportunities available in Second Life as their are in the real world. in that vein, it is very possible for companies to build the companies they have in the real world on Second Life and therefore get a lot of exposure to their brand/product to those participating in the game. Also, it is probably possible for the avatar of a company or organization to network with people via Second Life and promote their organization or company.

Twitter, online communities, and community managers serve to keep organizations and companies connected to their publics in a less obtrusive way that the typical media relations tactics. Here, conversations form because a back and forth exchange of information is facilitated.

Engaging in the Blogoshpere: Responses

Local Yoga Studio

I would advise the local yoga studio to blog about the benefits of doing yoga. The appropriate place for the essential who, what,where, and when for the yoga studio should be included in the about me page so it is not necessary to include this information in the regular blog posts. The angle they take should be that yoga is extremely beneficial to health. Each of the individual blogs posts could be about different ways in which it is beneficial and supplemented by blog posts about special events or new classes the studio is offering. So, the niche should be that of health, leisure, relaxation, and entertainment.

They should blog about not only the benefits, but explain how those benefits of doing yoga are applicable to their reader’s lives. The blog posts should make their readers understand that the benefits are extremely necessary in their readers lives and that taking a yoga class is a very easy way to reap those benefits. Also, they should blog in such a way that encourages feedback. Asking questions at the end of blog posts such as, “What do you know about yoga” would tell them how much or how little their audience understands about yoga. Or, they could ask, “How do you relax?” and later find a way to tie in the way they relax normally to a yoga class.

Edelman Autheniticities Engagement Exercise

  • Justin: I would engage Justin by asking him first how often he goes hiking and camping, to get an idea of how active he is and how strenuous his activities are. I want him to know I’m interested in his hobbies. Then I would ask him if he’s ever considered doing yoga- it is exercise and keeps you fit like hiking and it relaxes you like a good glass of wine. I would be concerned that he would not care about it because it does not have to do with video games, but I could address this issue by bringing up the point that yoga expands and strengthens your mind and could lead to better thinking processes that could get him ahead in his games.
  • Victoria: Since Victoria writes about the happenings in her city, I would begin by asking her if she’s ever heard of or seen the local yoga studio. It’s the only one in the city and it has a great location so its easily accessible to many people. I would then ask her if she’s ever tried yoga, and even if she has or has not, should come by and try out a class- it’ll relieve some stress  she may have from that Tory mayoral candidate winning the election.
  • Cindy: For Cindy, I would definitely highlight the benefits and therapeutic values of yoga. Cindy blogs about domestic violence issues, so her content is very intense. However, I first ask her if she’s ever considered giving advice on her blog about how to cope with domestic violence. If she would like to do that I would tell her that yoga is very relaxing and therapeutic and could do wonders for victims.

3 Keys to Blogging Well

Blogging is certainly not something that you can just pick up and be really good at right off the bat. However, it seems that this has made for, kind of ironically, a very hot blog post topic. Dr.V compiled a list of about eight blog posts that discuss, essentially, the do’s and don’t’s of blogging. They all made really great points so I decided to compile the most frequently noted/ most important tips for blogging.

  • Know who you are and have a voice.It is very important (and becoming increasingly harder) to stand out in the blogosphere. If you’re merely parroting what other people are talking about or not posting about anything interesting or relevant it’s very unlikely your blog will gain momentum. Blogging should be done with a purpose. So, decide who you are going to be out there in the social media world and be consistent with that.
  • Create conversations.It’s a constant give and take between bloggers, you can’t just expect people to come to you if you’re not putting yourself out there. Comment on other’s blogs, and read. Like a new release, keep up with the bloggers you comment on and want to follow you and find out what interests them. Then, put your own twist on those subjects and write about them. It’s so important to engage people- no one has ever responded well to being talked at.
  • Be real. This is especially important for corporations getting into blogging and blogging during a crisis. If you’re fake on the web, people are going to know it and most likely resent you for it. So, be upfront with your audience, it will build trust and as a result a good relationship. People will be much more interested in your products or services if they feel you understand them and don’t have any ulterior motives.

Geoff Livingston of The Buzz Bin sums up perfectly in his post on ways to woo bloggers, “…blogger relations really comes down to individual relationships. As a result, many conversations deal with basic principles of listening and not overselling, oops, over-pitching.”

Relationships enable exposure

If someone were to ask me to define public relations in one word I would say: relationships.

Today in our PRinciples class, we had two guest speakers come in a talk to us about media relations. Kim Banks of Simko Communications and John Gouch of Clemson University’s news services spent our 75 minute class giving us special insight on how to create and send out news releases in the most effective way possible. Pretty much every PR person’s goal at some point is to get as much media coverage as possible, right? That’s true to an extent.

Both Banks and Gouch continually stressed the importance of building relationships with media. Journalists, reporters, editors and everyone else in a gatekeeper position is extremely valuable to a PR practitioner, and it is important to let them know that. Reporters don’t care about the PR practitioners client, they care about their beat, what they’re interested in writing about, and what their audience wants to hear about. So, that’s what the PR practitioner has to be interested in too.

It is absolutely imperative that PR people listen to reporters, journalists, editors. Go out to lunch/coffee/dinner/tea with them without an agenda and learn about who they are as people. The better you know these people, the more likely it is that your news release will get published.

So make friends! The more you know about your media gatekeepers the better you are able to cater to them. Seek out the people you know will be interested in the story you are trying to get published. As Banks said very poignantly, “It’s a give and take.”

Caring is sharing

One thing that all of the different social media tools have in common is sharing. In each of the tools I looked at, sharing was emphasized, usually above all of the other features the tool provided. Since social media is about connections and forming new relationships it is essential that people are able to let others know what is important and interesting to them.

Delicious is one such tool that encourages sharing. People compile all the interesting things they have found on the web as bookmarks on this site. It offers a glimpse into the minds of other people surfing the web and allows you to easily locate people you are compatible with through their bookmarks. On some other social bookmarking sites (i.e. Sphinn) you can even vote to for certain sites to be featured on the homepage. Just another way to really let others know what you think.

Another thing I noticed while going through the social media tools is that they are very interconnected. For example, you can use Picnik to edit photos that you can later upload on Flickr or Facebook. Social media tools on the web work together to essentially make the world smaller.

The power to change the world

Thursday last week was hands down the best PR class we’ve had so far. For the first time ever I actually started to understand not just Twitter, but the point of all the different types of social media out there.

The reason it was so empowering to me was because I got to see, first hand, my voice being just as loud, if not louder than very prominent people in the social media PR world. The Golden Wall was crumpling right before my eyes. The idea of the Golden Wall as Dr.V explained it to us is that before, corporations were making decisions about our lives with little regard to how those decisions would effect us (with a huge wall around them). They were untouchable. However, social media has broken down that wall. The power lies within the publics. Now, the corporation is never the center of attention because everyone has a voice.

So what do I think that means? People previously in power need to learn to lose control- social media is dispersing the power whether big corporations like it or not. This is touched on in Cluetrain Manifesto in the respect that the way business is being done is changing and people need to change with it or they will be left in the dust.

Hardly anyone understands that better than Laura Fitton. Fitton is known in some circles as the “Queen of Twitter” and honestly, I would agree. While talking to her in class on Thursday she admitted to us that she only began Twitter a year ago and even at the beginning there she did not understand it. That’s such an inspiration. To go from confused ot guru in a year is something tangible I can aspire to. I really do want to get good at this, and she gave us many tips on how to be an effective tweeter:

  • Be human. Have conversations. The more real you are the more people will be interesting in what you have to say.
  • It’s not the number of followers you have- with the right five followers you could change the world.
  • Find people on Twitter whose interests line up with your own. It makes it more fun and interesting. Relationships and connections can flourish.
  • It is very important to LISTEN.

BB Reading Assignment 3

PR Measurement Blog

Before I could get any further in scanning Katie D. Panie’s blog, I was struck by the second newest post, Maybe Google will finally replace the clipping services.This caught my attention because just the other day in my Intro to Journalism class, the professor was discussing how the emergence of new technology and therefore new media has forced newspapers to change the way they present information and are published. My professor made a great point: people thought radio, then T.V., then Internet was going to render newspapers obsolete- but they were wrong.

Sure, the newspaper publishing industry is not the money-making business it used to be, but it is certainly still prominent in society. And now, it seems, that for once it’s not the newspapers that have to do the changing. According to Paine’s post, Google is expanding its news archive to include every newspaper story ever written. And not just that, people will be able to search for a story and be able to view it as it actually looked in the paper when it was published. Neat! But also pretty ambitious. Hey, if Google has the motivation, it’s a great thing to work for. The idea of preserving history is taking on entirely new meanings.

Charity Water case study

As a follower of Paull Young on twitter, I was able to witness first hand his birthday social media experiment. While reading the reflection he wrote on the experiment though, one this really hit me: this is great PR for Charity Water. Not only was he campaigning for donations and therefore getting their name out to many people who would otherwise never have heard of the charity (myself included), he was also linking to it repeatedly and therefore getting their mission out as well.

With social media on the rise, I predict that instances such as this will be occurring more and more. Simple acts such as someone blogging about an organization or tweeting about a great new product can have huge PR ramifications if done or viewed by the right people. Get opinion leaders, or Super Influencers to endorse something and their good graces can snowball into creating better awareness and therefore relationships between the online public and organizations.

“Young PR Professional”

“Young PR professional.” I absolutely adore this quote because I feel like, with this blog, I really am putting myself out there in field. Kipp Bodnar, a PR practitioner for a firm in Raleigh, NC said this today in the closing moments he was on the phone with us. Dr. V telephoned Bodnar to give us another look at what exactly is waiting for us out in the real PR world, and according to Bodnar, quite a bit.

It seem as though there are opportunities abound in the PR field, that it grows every day, if one knows how to present his or herself. Being active online (once again) is very important and something Bodnar stressed in the conversation we had with him. By blogging and tweeting and commenting (and lions and tigers and bears oh my!ing) we are exposing ourselves to PR agencies while simultaneously learning by observation.

“What do you read?” is the first question that popped into his mind when Dr.V asked what he would say in an interview for an internship or job. Although this seems like an innocent question, it’s actually quite the window into a person’s PR soul, if you will. By answering this question, one can learn what people are interested in, what they pay attention to, how they prioritize their information and much more. By simply reading a person can learn so much about anything. I’m certainly going to keep my eyes wide open.