Communications planning

UNTJ4460- PR Communication

The beginning of this semester found us creating a communications plan for the clients we worked with in PR Writing last semester. We were also assigned to work in a group to create a communications plan for a large client.

I remember asking the question: how are we going to use communications plans in our jobs as entry-level public relations professionals. The answer that I received, not just from this class, but also from other professionals, is that as entry-level professionals, probably working on the tactics of a plan. We will be helping write press releases. Implementing the social media strategy. Assisting with events. I can’t wait to do all that.

I also can’t wait to actually create a communications plan. I can’t wait to be a part of a team, bouncing ideas off one another, having disagreements, resolving disagreements, pitching the plan to a client, revising the plan based off of the client’s wishes, and delegating the tactics of the plan to my team. I can’t wait to see the plan come to life. I can’t wait to read an article about a story I pitched to a journalist. I can’t wait to see the pictures of my client’s event on the social pages. I can’t wait to be done with a plan and sit with my team to discuss what worked and what didn’t work as we evaluate the success (and failures) of our plan.

But it will take a while to get to that point.

I still have one semester left, and I can only hope that I will be ready to enter the workforce, armed with the skills I have picked up in this class. I can hopefully knock out two internships before December. There is still much to learn in the remaining classes I must take and the experiences that I will have for the rest of my career as a student.

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How to communicate in a disaster

UNTJ4460- PR Communication

https://embed.theguardian.com/embed/video/world/video/2015/apr/30/nepal-earthquake-kathmandu-cctv-video

Last weekend a 7.8 magnitude earthquake happened in Katmandu, Nepal.

While aftershocks were still hitting the region, Google and Facebook launched services that allowed people to find their loved ones. Google person finder allows for people to search for friends and family members during natural disasters. Not to be outdone, Facebook launched their service, which lets people see if they have friends or family in the disaster area and also lets people in the disaster area let their friends know they are safe.

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John Kobusch, a German climber felt the shocks of the earthquake in the form of an avalanche that tumbled down Mount Everest. He was able to film the avalanche as it happened and shared the video on YouTube (as of Friday night it has over 20 million views).

As the recovery efforts were underway, the International Committe Red Cross encouraged people on Twitter to turn on their geo-location when tweeting photos in order to help rescuers find areas that need help, since a lot of the areas affected by the earthquake are difficult to reach. Raheel Khursheed, head of news, politics and government at Twitter India helped spread the word.

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As a communications professional, it is important to know how to respond to a crisis. A natural disaster affects so many people and requires the work of many different organizations. In the social media age, when news breaks before journalists can cover it, it is important to know reliable sources to follow. As an organization, it is important to make sure that your organization makes it on lists of nonprofits to donate to or important numbers to call. You have to make sure that you are accessible to people, over the phone, online or in person.

 

Technology has made it so it is easy to connect with people no matter what part of the world they are in. This should mean that as an organization there are ample outlets to communicate important information to your various publics, even in times of disaster.

Don’t let Twitter get you fired

UNTJ4460- PR Communication

“Be careful what you post on social media.”

I’ve heard various forms of this warning too many times to count. Every so often life becomes very real for someone who didn’t pay attention to that warning.

The 2016 presidential campaign is upon us and candidates and potential candidates are busy building their teams. In February presidential hopeful Jeb Bush hired Ethan Czahor to be the chief technology officer of his political action committee. After the announcement of his hire, journalists did some digging in his social media accounts and found some questionable tweets. One would think that a guy who sold his website to AOL would know better. Czahor ended up resigning.

A month later, Liz Mair a communications aide for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker got in some trouble for questioning Iowa’s importance in the presidential race. Her posts offended some Iowans- the state has the first presidential caucuses and is considered an important state to win for those running for president. She too ended up resigning.

Czahor, tech genius that he is, founded another website. Clear is an app that searched through your tweets and Facebook posts and deletes any potentially offensive posts that might cost you your job.

Mair is has a great resume of clients she has worked for as a digital communications strategist and is now writing articles for the Daily Beast. She tweets that she has some great things lined up for her, so I’m excited to see where she ends up in 2016.

These are just two examples of what I believe are a few tweets being blown out of proportion. As a communications professional and someone who hopes to work in politics one day, I do worry that something I posted on Facebook or Twitter YEARS ago might be used against me. I try not to post ignorantly, but in 2011 when I got a Twitter account, I definitely could not have predicted it’s role in my life or its role in my profession.

For the most part, you can’t judge someone from a few tweets they have made,; at the same time, one must be smart on social media. It seems like the line between being yourself and not offending people is a fine one to walk, but hopefully a tweet or a Facebook post won’t ever cost me my job.

Monica’s back

UNTJ4460- PR Communication

I wanted to name this post after one of many songs that mentions Monica Lewinsky in it, but pretty much all of them are very inappropriate. 

In January 1998 the Drudge Report broke a story of a former White House intern who was in a sexual relationship with President Clinton. Drudge claimed that Newsweek magazine killed the story.

The media storm that that followed was unprecedented. 17 years after the event, Monica Lewinsky is making a comeback and is making sure that her side of the story is told on her own terms.

In May 2014, she wrote an op-ed for Vanity Fair magazine that would spearhead her role as an advocate against cyber bullying. Lewinsky spoke at the Forbes 30 under 30 conference and again at the TED conference last month.

 

Lewinsky mentions the scandal that made her infamous and the environment that existed for her life to be plastered for the entire world to see. Newspapers, the radio and television for a long time was all the media consisted of, but at the end of the 1990s, the digital revolution introduced the world to the Internet. Lewinsky calls herself “patient zero” in having her reputation ruined in such a public way.

She recalls the story of Rutgers student Tyler Clemente who committed suicide after he was recorded by his roommate being intimate with a partner, then the roommate posted it online. Lewinsky says that she can relate to this story because she was almost humiliated to death by her scandal.

The rise of the Internet brought us many great things, including the power to be connected, but cyber bullying is the dark side of that. Lewinsky says that the online community has no perimeter. We can see this in the popularity of Snapchat, as well as in the iCloud and Sony hacks. The price of shame is in the profit that organizations get from telling ones private stories that are measured in clicks and advertising dollars. Society is numb to the person’s humiliation that is entertaining them.

Lewinsky wants people to recognize what she went through as cyber-bullying, something that did not yet exist in 1998. Now, it seems that it is very easy to capitalize from an embarrassing moment in your life that the whole world gains access to.

Lewinsky’s message of learning to consume media with empathy and compassion is a message that can be taken to heart. In the age of the 24-hour news cycle and social media, one can only imagine that the Internet would break if Monica’s story came out in 2015.

 

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SXSW Keynote: Jonah Peretti

UNTJ4460- PR Communication

South by Southwest is an event that I hope to go to one day. Hearing from professionals that attended, seeing the recaps of some of the sessions and watching some of the keynotes let me know that as a communications professional there is so much to learn.

One of the Keynotes that I watched was Lessons from Buzzfeed by Jonah Peretti, CEO and co-founder of the media company.

Jonah-Peretti 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zeFSA5YebQg&feature=youtu.be&t=4h38m49s

Buzzfeed is known for their posts about cute cats, but since its founding it has grown to four divisions: Classic (lists, quizzes and cute animals), Motion Pictures (original videos made in Buzzfeed’s new L.A. studio), Life (DIY, lifestyle, food and fashion posts) and News.

A post about cute animals does not have any intrinsic value, in terms of the reader getting important information from the post. Peretti says that the emotion that a post brings about can be more important than any information in the post. With social media analytics, when people share a post, Buzzfeed and see what words they used to describe the article. This enables them to see why people are sharing the content and Buzzfeed can use this information to improve future posts.

During the Sandy Hook shooting, people were coming to Buzzfeed to find light-hearted articles, so they created a new one that got millions of shares. People share content that they connect with, and when they share content with their friends and family, they are able to have shared experiences with their friends and family who are also reading the post- so no matter where you are, you can have a virtually have a shared experience with someone. Knowing the number of shares is a more meaningful metric to have (for Buzzfeed) than knowing the number of clicks and views.

Real-world action is another thing that Buzzfeed finds meaningful. Buzzfeed Life making a food challenge or a workout plan that gets shares lot is good. But when people share their posts of them creating the meals from the food challenge or doing the workouts, people proactively comprehend your content.

Other examples of posts causing real world action is the Buzzfeed article about Uber’s “God view” which caused Uber to create a privacy policy and a Senate inquiry and the Turkish government preventing ISIS smuggling oil based on Buzzfeed reporting.

In order to have a bigger impact on society, Buzzfeed is creating branded content, which allows them to abandon the traditional banner-ad based revenue model that tradition online media companies use. They are also increasing their international presence with offices across the globe. Peretti says because we live in a global society information travels so quickly, so Buzzfeed makes posts in different languages and adapts posts to resonate with a specific culture.

Buzzfeed’s goal is to “be indifferent to how they find content” which is why sharing platforms, such as Facebook and YouTube, are important to Buzzfeed’s vertical integration model. By not forcing readers to see Buzzfeed content on their website, this allows Buzzfeed to reach a much larger audience.

As a P.R. professional, I think that Buzzfeed’s model shows that brands have to learn to work with non-traditional forms of distributing information in order to reach their audiences. It is also important to collect data and have a way to get feedback from your audiences. These are some of the things can help your company learn from mistakes and successes and communicate your message in the most productive way possible.

Social media (and children)- the future

UNTJ4460- PR Communication

Last week I had the honor of representing the Mayborn at The Dallas Morning News’ (TDMN) High School Journalism Day.

In between helping Dean Bland recruit high school students, I got the chance to sit in on one of the sessions.

The Dallas Morning News’ Mike McCray and Christy Robinson talked to students about how the newspaper uses social media.

Christy Robinson is a digital communities specialist. Her presentation was inspired by the book Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger. She highlighted some of the topics brought up in the book. Each post linked back to a Dallas Morning News article.

  • Good news offers practical advice
    • Examples: National Margarita Day post, GuideLive, Pinterest posts, list articles
  • Good posts make people feel like an insider
    • For examples, posts like, reasons why Dallas is better than Houston provide readers with social currency
  • A good post tells a story
  • A good post triggers associations
    • Nostalgia, impactful, life-changing stories
  • Good posts evoke emotions

Stories and posts with more that one of the above do the best, in terms of engagement (shares, likes, etc.)

McCray, who is a digitail content promotions coordinator talked about how much Twiiter has changes since its early days. In order for news to work on social media, these elements should be considered:

  • Journalistic integrity
  • Is it fascinating to you?
  • Understand the nuances of the platform you are using
  • Timing
  • Make it engaging

TDMN also uses social media analytics and apps to test photos and headlines. They find that Facebook drives more news than Twitter.

As a public relations professional I have never thought about social media from a news standpoint. I use social media (Twitter more than Facebook) to follow the news. I follow many news organizations, journalists and editors. But I have never thought about the strategies that they use to ensure that people read their stories, especially in a world where digital is

During lunch, I had an interesting conversation with Micheal Landauer, who is TDMN’s digital communities manager. He mentioned monetizing social media, which is something that I have never thought about. In classes so far, we have heard that social media is free, unless you are paying a promoted post. I have never thought about creating a way that a company or organization can make money from social media. I know that I do not want my career to focus on social media, but I want to have enough knowledge about social to be able to incorporate it in an overall communications plan.

As social media continues to evolve, I hope that I learn about ways that social media can benefit an organization financially. That can be one more way a communications professional can prove their value to an organization.

Side note: This week there was an accident at in Argyle ISD facility. The students at The Talon, the high school’s student run newspaper were the first on the scene.

 

 

Kudos to the staff of the Talon because they also won big at TDMN competition for high school students. Even though they are only a few years younger than me, these are journalists that will receive my eager story pitches. These are the journalists that will be persistent in getting an interview with my boss.

PRSA Dallas Pro-Am Day

UNTJ4460- PR Communication

Today was PRSA Dallas Pro-Am Day is a yearly event that gives college student to shadow local public relations and communications professionals in a nonprofit, corporate or agency setting. I was paired with Laura Mason who is a corporate communication advisor in public and government affairs at ExxonMobil, who has its headquarters in Irving.

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The Dallas headquarters are home to a few hundred people, but Exxon’s largest campus is in the Woodlands, right outside of Houston. Mason says that it works for company to keep the corporate headquarters separate from the day-to-day operations- a lot of the Houston staff are responsible for the upstream operations of the company.

Mason’s current responsibilities at Exxon include helping to create the ExxonMobil outlook book and managing the content of the ExxonMobil corporate website.

ExxonMobil is divided into many global brands and business lines, each section of the company communicates to different audiences. ExxonMobil’s corporate audience consists of thought leaders in the industry- people who tend to be highly educated and influential people in the industry.

Mason talked about some new goals that the company the company has for the website. They are in the process of making all of the brand’s websites are visually similar and making sure that the entire website is mobile and tablet friendly.

I was really happy to be assigned to Laura. I have an interest in government affairs and political communication, but I have never considered working in that role from a corporate side.

Lunch was at Brinker International, the company who own all the Chili’s Bars and Grills and Maggiano’s. A panel of professionals was moderated by PRSA Dallas President and Q Mobius President and CEO Carolyn Covey Morris; on the panel was Ashley Johnson, senior public relations manager at Brinker, Donna Coletti, Director of International Communications and Market Research at Texas Instruments and Jane Koenecke, vice president of creative communication and events at Interstate Batteries.

These ladies gave us advice on everything from what professionals look for when hiring interns or entry-level employees to learning how to use analytics to prove your worth as communications to management. Some of the advice they gave:

  • Know the culture of the company that you are applying to
  • Be flexible (be willing to do anything)
  • Think about how you can make a difference at the company
  • Be ready for teamwork
  • Don’t apply for a position you don’t really want
  • Use metrics to engage your audiences, but understand the power of insight, not just numbers
  • Write meaningful thank you letters to potential employers (“without the specificity, it’s just another email/letter)

Thank you to Laura and sharing the morning with me and another student from UT-Arlington. And thank you to PRSA Dallas for hosting this event and giving area public relations student this opportunity to step into the professional world.

Talks for PR professonals

UNTJ4460- PR Communication

SXSW is this week and I wish with everything in my heart that I was there. Not for the music or the movies or the parties, but for all of the interactive sessions. There are so many great brands and professionals in all industries that a speaking on their successes and insights in industries from beauty, to film, to P.R. to technology. This year SXSW will live-stream a lot more of their keynotes addresses. Until then, I decided to take a look at some TED talks that are meant to inspire public relations professionals.

The article 5 TED talks to inspire the PR and marketing professional, Rowley Cubitt lists five talks that do just that.

I chose to watch Tim Leberetch’s talk on how brands can give up some control in order to have better relationships with employees and customers. The Occupy movement showed us how easy it is for a company to lose control of its message.

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Credit: Slideshare by Karianne Stinson, social media manager at Priceline.com

With Bezos’ quote in mind Leberetch offers advice on how brands can take control of their message:

  1. Giving employees and customers more control
  2. Giving people less control, and therefore more meaningful experiences
  3. Staying true to themselves

Examples of giving others more control can be news organizations giving views the opportunity to be citizen journalists like CNN’s iReport. The same can be said for Radiohead’s album In Rainbows, which they allowed, fans to decide how much they wanted to pay for the album. Patagonia told customers not to buy new products, and instead encouraged them to buy their products used.

An example of giving people less control can be seen in the company Nextpedition, which takes customers on a journey, but doesn’t tell them where they are going until the last minute. Frog, Leberetch’s company puts on employee speed meeting events to encourage employees to meet new and old colleges and develop relationships with people that they otherwise would not meet cooped up in their cubicles.

In giving up control, companies still need to understand that they need to be true to themselves. Being open is good, but being too open is not good. If everyone can see all your vulnerabilities, then it would be hard for you to get anything done.

Public relations professionals can take Leberetch’s advice to heart when thinking of when coming up with ideas on how to connect with different publics, whether that be employees or customers.

Agency Life

UNTJ4460- PR Communication

Today, members of UNT PRSSA, as well and NABJ (National Association of Black Journalists) and NAHJ (National Association of Hispanic Journalists) members had the opportunity to make visits to the Edelman and Weber Shandwick offices. These are some of the top public relations agencies in the country (and world) and today was definitely a great learning experience.

We started our day at Edelman and heard from Leigh Daniels, who is a UNT alumnae. She started off as an intern in the Dallas office and is currently an assistant account executive in their corporate practice.

Edelman is the largest PR agency in the world with over 6,500 employees in 65 cities. They have an impressive client list and have done some cool campaigns with Dos Equis and Symantec, just to name a few. We also heard from Erica Harmon and Shea Agnew who work on Edelman’s education practice.

For lunch we met with Lauren Frock, former president of UNT PRSSA who was recently promoted to an assistant account executive position at another agency Fleishman Hillard, as well as other UNT alumni that currently work there. It was great to talk to someone who has so recently experienced what we are currently going through in terms of succeeding at a great internship at a great firm and loving what they are doing. Thanks Lauren!

Up next was Weber Shandwick.

We first heard from Neil Nowlin, executive vice president and general manager. He shared some great advice with us on how to succeed in an internship, not just at Weber, but anywhere.

  1. Take initiative
  2. Come with the right attitude
  3. Be willing to do anything

We also heard from two staff members who transitioned from being interns and are now staff members about some of the tech accounts that they are working on.

Next up were staffers that work in The Studio, which is Weber Shandwick’s in-house creative team. We got to look at some of the work that they have done including the bid book for Dallas to host the 2016 Republican National Convention and the annual report for The Meadows Foundation.

Anytime professional take the time out of their workdays to meet with students, I am grateful. The learning we get in classrooms is good, but hearing from people who currently work in the industry is something that is invaluable.

Thanks again to all the staff at Weber Shandwick and Edelman for the hospitality.

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Who wrote it?: Content marketing edition

UNTJ4460- PR Communication

In the 30 under 30 edition of Fortune magazine, Forbes Media staffer Lewis D’Vorkin speaks to a room full of public relations professionals about BrandVoice, Forbes’ answer to paid content journalism. This platform allows “marketers to join the conversation with their own narrative and expertise”- in other words companies get to pay to have content in Forbes magazine and Forbes.com, but it doesn’t look like a traditional ad, it looks like just another page in the magazine.

D’Vorkin notes that the line between paid content and editorial content in blurring because the worlds of advertising and journalism are changing. BrandVoice is an example of native advertising or content marketing. He talks about the differences between paid, owned and earned media and how content marketing had blended the three together, which can be a problem. If a brand is paying to have content that they have written in a newspaper, but the content is not an ad, it should be clear to readers that the content is paid for.

Media companies such as Buzzfeed and Conde Nast are coming up with their own creative ways to get revenue from companies in a time where ads need to be bought to pay the bills, but readers do not want to see pop-up ads when they read a story online.

Buzzfeed came out with new editorial standards last month. One of the reasons was probably to help them recover from their plagiarism scandal last year and to help them increase their legitimacy as a player in the journalism world. Buzzfeed explained how they are going to seperate editorial staff members who report news items and their creative staff who creates branded content.

“[Buzzfeed will] maintain a strict and traditional separation between advertising and editorial content. The work of reporters, writers, and editors is entirely independent of our ad salespeople and their clients. Ad creatives report to the business side of BuzzFeed, not to editorial…. We encourage staffers in editorial to collaborate with staffers in video or tech or data. But edit staffers must never collaborate or contribute to content that is part of an ad campaign — whether it’s video or text. Creative/ad sales staffers are not permitted to contribute to editorial-driven content. Creative staffers may create community posts under clear bylines that state they are not on the editorial team.”

Conde Nast is another media company that is venturing into the branded content market. The difference in their program 23 Stories by Conde Nast is that their own writers will be creating the content. This begs the question, can journalists write unbiased editorial content, while at the same time create content that is paid for by advertisers? Conde Nast executives seem to think it is possible for their content creators to do both.

2014-07-04-biggestcontentmarketingchallenge

The biggest challenges to content marketing from The Huffington Post

As more media companies trying to find a balance between being transparent to readers and not having a conflict in their creative and editorial staff D’Vorkin says that P.R. professionals aren’t always going to be the ones writing content for the brands that they represent. BrandVoice is meant to join the “traditional media values and standards with the realities of the times.”