Musings of a PR Professional

Pepsi Refresh Grant: My experience with social media

For the month of November, I have used my social media networks quite differently than I normally do. As you all know, our class has been working to win Safe Harbor the $25k to revive their shelter.

To promote our project, I have been using my Facebook and Twitter to . However, I haven’t gotten much response from my friends on Facebook or my Twitter followers. Where our professor indicated that a lot of her friends on Facebook took interest in the grant project and “liked” or passed along the information on Facebook, I have not had that experience at all. My peers, as those are the majority of my friends on Facebook, have not responded to it at all. I am assuming that it is because they know little about Safe Harbor. In hindsight, I wish I had done a better job of enabling people to understand what Safe Harbor does and how much they need this grant, rather than just asking them to vote right off the bat. It is hard to motivate people when they don’t have a stake in the cause.

Also, I have been in charge of posting voting reminders on Safe Harbor’s Twitter page. (Follow them and retweet the messages!) I have found that people who follow them are more inclined to retweet the message and has indicated that people have been regularly clicking the link that I have been including in Safe Habor’s tweets. So, it seems that those who were previously engaged with Safe Habor are more inclined to put forth the effort to vote and pass the word along.

And please, help us reach our goal. We have been steadily climbing the ranks all month and currently are at 85th! Vote daily at or text 103648 to 73774 (PEPSI). Thank you for your support!


Refresh Safe Harbor, please!

For those of you who don’t know, or aren’t aware of the specifics, PepsiCo. has started an initiative called the Pepsi Refresh Project. Essentially what it is, is each month Pepsi gives away up to a total of $16,500,000 to the top 32 ideas that plan to do something positive for society. The ideas can come from any individual or any organization, but in order to win, the idea has to get the most votes. Anyone can vote, so the contest is really about who can promote their idea the best.

Our plan is to win $25,000 for Safe Harbor so that they can buy 30 new mattresses, re-do their kitchen, and stock it with food for almost one year.

There is A LOT of money up for grabs to do something great with- and we’re going to win. We’re a PR class full of smart and talented women. We got this!

More than anything, this is a social media competition. Whoever has the biggest, most dedicated social network made up of people who are (willing to be) active online will be the winners. So, a large part of our job will be to mobilize the troops. Of course personal relationships will help us, but we can’t simply rest on the hope that our friends and family like us enough to commit themselves to voting regularly.

So, we will not just throw together an application and pump it out to our friends on Facebook and Twitter. We are going to put time and effort into this campaign so that we are sure to win. We want people we know and people we’ve never met before to feel compelled to vote for our cause. As such, our class has chosen to wait until next month to submit our idea. So, over the next few weeks we are going to work hard to come up with compelling descriptions, stories, pictures, videos, slogans, and more to get our cause out there.

I personally think that pictures and videos will be the way to win votes. I firmly believe that the old adage is true, A picture is worth a thousand words. I believe that if we can show voters the women and children that they will be helping as well as the current, rather dire conditions of Safe Harbor’s kitchen and mattresses, we will be very persuasive.

But that’s my opinion. What’s yours? What do you think will help us win the most votes so that Safe Harbor can win funding?

Believe me- we would love to hear from you! We want to be successful and win this money for Safe Harbor and the people they serve.

Chapter 5: Navigating a Changing Industry

What we have been talking about in my journalism classes since my freshman year is the focus of this chapter- the news industry is going down. And fast. But this fact has different implications in a public relations course than a journalism one.

For example, in journalism we talked about the concept of convergence as something that we would have to tackle and master as journalists. Like the example given at the beginning of this chapter, each of us (if we wanted to pursue a career in journalism as it stands today) would need to be a Lynn Sweet. We would need to be able to write, shoot pictures and video, edit, record audio, and more, all for different media platforms.

On the other hand, in PR, I think the book sums it up best when it states, “The basic tools for media outreach remain the same in key ways, but the long-term trend is to combine them in a single package for all media.” We’ve discussed media kits in my previous public relations courses which should contain everything from a news release to a podcast. Because the way journalists are reporting is changing, so do PR professionals. We need to give them the information we want them to have in the form that they want. It sounds simple, but the way the Internet has changed the game has made this anything but.

It is no secret that the Internet has shaken up the public relations field. However, I think that being a PR student right now puts me at an advantage for one big reason: social media. I get it. I’m on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Flikr, and more. I understand that these platforms are based on two-way communication and relationships and I think I know how to navigate and utilize these sites pretty well. I’m not an expert by any means, but I’m in the best possible position I could be in to learn. I’ve grown up with the Internet, these things integrate into my life almost seamlessly.

Not that it’s all about the Internet. The text says it itself, it’s still a huge accomplishment to get your nonprofit’s spokesperson a TV interview, or an event your organization is putting on news coverage in a magazine. These media are still important and despite the current emphasis on social media, it is important to remember that the Internet may be the future- but it’s not the only source of PR right now.

Rock the Vote: A communicaiton strategy for social change

I think that anyone would be hard pressed to find a young  adult who does not remember the Rock the Vote campaign from the 2004 presidential election. You couldn’t turn on your TV without seeing a commercial featuring P Diddy telling young adults why they should vote or Paris Hilton wearing a little Rock the Vote graphic tee in a hip magazine ad. But what is important about the Rock the Vote campaign is that it worked, and it is memorable.

Bar the fact that Rock the Vote has been around for 20 or so years, most young people had not heard about it until 2004 when the initiative decided to up the ante and really use pop culture and mainstream and online media to connect with young people. Their goal: Get young people to the polls. Rock the Vote did a lot to empower young people politically in 2004, but what they did that I think really worked was connect with young adults on their level. They used the media channels that young people were using, held events like concerts that young adults would want to attend, got “hot” celebrities to endorse their cause, and sold merchandise. While these are not terribly innovative ideas, this strategy was new in the sense that no one had ever made politics and voting cool before. Celebrities, MTV, blogging, and more made voting the it thing to do. That’s social change if I’ve ever seen it because it WORKED. You can check out Rock the Vote’s 2004 Youth Vote Results here, but here are the highlights:

  • Among 18-24 year olds, turnout was up 11 points to 47 percent.
  • Among 18-29 year olds, turnout was up 9 points to 49 percent.
  • More than 20 million votes were cast by 18-29 year olds, and 11.6 million were cast by 18-24 year olds, both up sharply from 2000.

So what can we learn from Rock the Vote, especially during the 2004 election? The best way to reach people is by engaging them through channels and messages they like and will respond to. Because let’s be honest, I’ll look at an ad about voting a lot longer if its Kim Kardashian or Zac Efron and not some random person. Don’t fight pop culture if it can work for you- Rock the Vote used it to create social change and they were successful. Keep up the good work!


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. is a website that allows anyone with the desire to create their very own comic strip. My English class this semester is very technologically based and when I was given the assignment to create a book review comic strip the term “social media” jumped to my mind.

Is this another form of social media? I’d say so. The site connects people through their creativity. Just like a graphic novel is another way to write, a comic strip online is another way to blog.

Blog Recommendation

I stumbled upon the blog of Chris Brogan today, a social media connoisseur. The first post I read was both thought provoking and funny. Check out the comments too, some of them are pretty insightful!