Category Archives: Topic of the Week

Approaching the Finish Line

Topic of the Week 16
Blogging Tips

I’m going to share something with you – I was nervous to take this class. At the end of the fall semester I decided to pursue a degree in Journalism/Public Relations and it was time to start my communication classes. For a few days while creating my schedule, I went back and forth, trying to decide if I was ready to take this class or not. Would it be too difficult? Would I just be terrible at “communication?”

As I near the end of the semester, I am able to reflect upon my decision to take Public Relations Applications and I can truly say I am glad I did. I learned about the basics of public relations, further defined my calling, and even learned about a PR technique that I am pretty sure I will continue for the rest of my life – blogging!

So for all of you future PR students, or those who like me, aren’t sure if you can handle  it, here are a few blogging tips to help you  out.

MY TOP 10!
10. Interesting titles make readers curious about your post and cause them to want to read more. Personally, when reading other students blogs, I tended to ignore those titled “T.O.W 7” because that told me nothing about the content.

9. Use bulleted lists for clarity and organization. Also allows your readers to gain important information quickly.

8. Import YouTube videos into your blog when necessary. Here’s how: find a video and click then “embed” tab directly below the video. Then copy the code. Finally, paste the code onto your blog, but be sure to paste it into the “HTML” section. This can be accessed on the top, right-hand corner of your text area. Then click publish! It’s that easy.

7. Import images onto your blog from Compfight.com.

6. Organize your posts by creating categories. And for those people who just love being organized, further categorize your blog posts using post tags. These organize posts into different topics.

5. Keep up with the classwork. This means actually following the syllabus and doing what it says is assigned that week!

4. When it comes to PR Connections, write about something that interest you. That way you will actually want to do them and have some opinions to share with your readers. For example, I tended to write about issues in sports.

3. Proofread, Proofread, Proofread! As you start blogging about other PR professionals, their names will appear on Google Alerts. Don’t be surprised if they visit your site too! Good grammar = Good impression!

2. Explore the blog world and when you find something you like, comment on it! It helps you create an audience.

1. Finally, when someone comments on your blog, return the favor and comment on theirs. This shows that instead of caring about yourself, you care about your audience more! And people just like that 🙂

I hope these tips help even the most novice blogger! Good luck!

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“Extra, Extra!”

Topic of the Week 14
News Release Tips

The ability to write a news release is one of the most important skills a potential public relations professional should possess. A news release is a PR firm’s opportunity to promote a product, event, or idea that could greatly influence a company or organization. This promotion is defined as a simple document whose primary purpose is the dissemination of information to mass media such as newspapers, broadcast stations, and magazines. Furthermore, many companies has a section devoted to public relations press releases on their official websites. Through news releases, public relations departments can reach both their target audience and the media.

A news release utilizes a simple format to make it easy for media to read and comprehend the most important information regarding the product, event, or idea. A news release consists of a 5WH method: who, what, when, where, why, and how. Who discusses who the news is about and who should be interested in the story. What introduces what the news and its significance is. Where describes where the news is or happened to take place. Where discusses when the event will or did take place. Why shows why the news is newsworthy and why it is happening. Finally, how shows how will this story happen or how will it take place. It is best to follow a news release template when writing releases.

Because being able to write a news release is so vital to the profession of public relations it is critical to understand the proper format in order to ensure editors will use the release in their publications. Here are a few tips to create a successful news release.

1. Don’t skimp on the details
2. Give background information
3. Provide information on photo opportunities
4. No typos
5. Don’t get flowery – avoid excessive use of adjectives and fancy language
6. Make sure the information is newsworthy
7. Make sure story can relate to the public – ensure connectedness
8. Deal with facts
9. Make sure the first 10 words of the release are effective and important
10. Provide as much contact information as possible

For more information on press release strategies check out Louisiana Tech PR and Press Release Writing.com

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Cleaning up the Mess

Topic of the Week 13
Crisis Case Study

Although it was a hoax, I still remember the Wendy’s chili crisis like of 2005 like it was yesterday. The catastrophe began when Anna Ayala found a human finger in her bowl of chili at a Wendy’s restaurant located in San Jose, California. When this story was leaked to the media, Wendy’s was forced to act quickly and draw up an effective crisis management strategy in order to soften the oncoming blows they were about to take. Here was their plan according to Public Relations: Strategies and Tactics:
1.Establish that the brand name was not at fault quickly
2. Maintain Wendy’s core values
3. Brief and mobilize employees
4. Build a postincident strategy to enhance Wendy’s brand

Although they did the best they could in this crisis, Wendy’s restaurants lost 20-50% of their business in the San Francisco area and their 6,600 outlets around the nation experienced a large decline in sales.

After 2 months of thorough police investigation, Ayala was found guilty of creating a hoax and grand theft for causing Wendy’s to $2.5 million in revenue. In addition, Ayala was charged 9 years in prison along with steep fines. In order to rebuild their tarnished reputation, Wendy’s rewarded their loyal customers with free Frostie desserts, giving out almost 18 million free treats.

Sadly, Wendy’s reputation was destroyed for a small amount of time because of an enormous lie. After successful image restoration, however, Wendy’s was able to jump back up to one of the most favored fast food chains in America. How did they do it? Wendy’s followed an action plan using the following methods described in Public Relations: Strategies and Tactics:
1. Make progress visible
2. Analyze what went wrong
3. Improve governance structure
4. Make CEO and leadership accessible to media
5. Fire employees involved in problem
6. Commit to high corporate citizenship standards
7. Carefully review ethics policies
8. Hire outside auditors for internal audits
9. Issue an apology from the CEO

For those who aren’t familiar with the Wendy’s Chili Crisis, check out the sketchy Good Morning America interview with Anna Ayala:

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For More Information…

Topic of the Week 12
Interview with Kneale Mann

Last week, my COMM 2322 class got to experience the wisdom of Public Relations professional Martin Waxman. This week, the blessing continues with a word from Kneale Mann. Through an interview conducted by my Public Relations Applications professor, Barbara Nixon, my class received valuable insight from Mann concerning blogging strategies and the importance of writing. Here are some tips I learned from Mann that I should hold onto for the rest of my PR career.

“I’m a geek.”
A self-described “Geek,” Kneale Mann encourages first-time bloggers to write about their main interests. For example, Mann’s blog, One Mann’s Opinion, discusses strategies for marketing and social media. Although his first post was entitled “I’m a Geek,” simply stating that he was starting a blog and had no idea where it was headed, he took the plunge. He started writing, which leads us to the next important point to Mann’s interview:

“Too often we are trying to go for the absolute victory before we do the work.”
Kneale Mann suggests that practicing writing is the key to successful writing and also the key to a successful blog. He states that the most important part about blogging is finding a focus. Although not that many people subscribe to the blog at first, Mann encourages us that starting a blog is the hardest part. Once you find the audience you are trying to connect with, blogging gets easier because of the instant feedback it allows. Our downfall of today’s society is that we want results right away, or as Mann describes, “instant status.” The world, however, doesn’t work that way. But how do we gain followers? That leads us to the final point:

“The price of admission is contribution.”
The key to a successful blog is finding “blog buddies.” Social media allows bloggers to build relationships through participating in two-way conversation, sharing ideas and feelings with one another. Finding blog buddies gives us, as writers, validation that there are people out there interested in what we have to say. In addition, networking using blog commenting, allows others to give advice.

It was a pleasure to listen to the great information Kneale Mann provided our class with. For more information on Kneale Mann check out his profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter or check out the interview for yourself!!

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Art of Persuasion

Topic of the Week 11
PR Podcasts

 For this assignment I explored The Creative Career for interesting podcasts relevant to the profession of public relations. On this site I discovered a link to CBC Radio’s show “Art of Persuasion,” hosted by Terry O’ Reilly. Each show is a half-hour long, so I was able to enjoy two of O’Reilly’s clips.

Persuasion Fail
In this episode, O’Reilly commented on some of the catastrophes within the world of public relations.  First, company acronym failures were discussed. For example, the Wisconsin Tourism Federation’s acronym “WTF” became a huge joke after “WTF” became short for “what the…” (Well, you can fill in the blank). Other acronym fails belonged to the Tokyo Institute of Technology and Duke University Hospital.

One publicity fail O’Reilly highlighted was made by KFC in 2009 after Oprah announced its “two free grilled chicken pieces, 2 sides, and a biscuit for free” promotion used to introduced its new grilled chicken menu choice. KFC, however, underestimated the power of Oprah and supply was killed by outrageous demand and many eager customers left the restaurant hungry.

Finally, O’Reilly commented on marketing strategies with new products. “Marrying a brand with the right strategy and the right creative direction is like a culinary art. You might like smoked sturgeon and you might like strawberry jam, but that doesn’t mean you want them on the same cracker.” It is important to do the research before presenting an idea.

The most important thing “Persuasion Fail” teaches PR professionals and students is that failure is sure to happen, especially in an industry where so many risks are taken. O’Reilly, however, encourages us to “fail forward.” In order to succeed, it is necessary to bounce back stronger and smarter.

Embracing New Media
In this episode, O’Reilly discusses how new media brings about new changes in communication, especially language. New media and the introduction of new language, however, brings about problems. O’Reilly explains that each new media enters a “grace period” in which consumers have to figure out which manner, form, and language best suits the new media.

One great example of this new language was the early days of the telephone. If it was up to Alexander Graham Bell, we would be answering the phone using “Ahoy, Ahoy!” Instead, as we all know, “Hello” was adopted as the universal telephone greeting.

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Inside Look

Topic of the Week 10
Interview with Martin Waxman

Today I got the great opportunity to listen to one of the most world-renouned public relations professionals, Martin Waxman. Founder of Pallete Public Relations agency and president of the Canadian equivalent to PRSA, Martin took time out of his busy schedule to discuss the importance of social media in the PR field. Here is a little summary of the content Martin covered:

1. Use of Social Media
As technology evolves, the use of social media will become more important within the public relations community. For example, Martin has integrated various social media outlets into his business. One social networking tool he likes to use is podcasting. (Visit Martin’s podcast, Inside PR) Unlike blogging, podcasting really helps form communication skills because “once you say it, its done.” There is no room for rewording what is said so podcasters have to have the abililty to speak clearly and speak on their feet. Martin adds that the danger in using social media is the temptation to just use it without learning how to tie it in to company objectives. Social media, however, allows public relations companies the opportunity to be transparent and relational with their clients.

2. Skills
Although it is important for a person considering a job in the PR field to be familiar with social media, it is necessary for that person to have the traditional communication skills, says Martin. According to the textbook Public Relations: Strategies and Tactics, five essential abilities include writing skill, research ability, planning expertise, problem-solving ability, and business/economics competence. Because these skills never become extinct although social media becomes more prevalent, they are always important to the PR profession.

3. Customer Service with Social Media
One interesting use of Twitter that public relations professionals use is looking up a company name and placing “fail” at the end of it. This method allows PR agencies instant feedback on trending topics concerning different companies and their products or services. Martin states that because of social media outlets, the things we complain about are able to go public rather than staying within a small circle of people.

I really appreciated Martin Waxman taking the time to speak to our public relations class. I think it is important for students to interact with successful PR professional such as Martin to gain an inside look on what PR is all about!

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Spring Break ’10!

Topic of the Week 8
How I Spent My Spring Break

Do you ever have those moments where you are just blown away by the way things work out? I am definitely having one of those moments. For as long I can remember I have been a hardcore baseball fan. I absolutely love the atmosphere of a baseball stadium: the sights, the sounds, the smells – everything! Recently, after a long chain of events, I was hired as a ball girl for the Detroit Tigers spring training. That means I sit directly on the left field line, field ground balls that come my way, then hand them to children in the stands. Before the game and in between innings I have the opportunity to interact with fans who actually had to pay to get into the game. As I sit in my chair I continually think to myself, “I get paid for this!” It is seriously a dream come true!

Although being the ballgirl is a great job, its not something I want to do for the rest of my life.  As I sit in my chair I get a first hand experience of community relations within the park. I get to observe all the promotions such as “Hot Dog Row” and “Three Generation Trivia.” All of these games and giveaways are great ideas to get the crowd involved in the game on a more personal level. In addition, public relations professionals find children before each game to say those famous words “PLAY BALL!” and to run the rosin bag out to the pitcher’s mound. After the game, kids are able to run the bases and parents are able to cheer on their children while taking tons of photos.

I think I found a possible career. Even though I just love watching the game, I would love to make the game a memorable experience for the fans- something they will remember for years to come!

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