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Check out the tabs above to get to know us, or read our latest blog posts below.
By Megan Maher
It’s Thanksgiving and many of us will gather around the turkey (or tofurkey) with loved ones and friends to reflect on the things that we are truly thankful for. Many of the answers might be having food to eat, a roof over our heads, and being surrounded by loved ones. However, a question has to be asked… What are we thankful for as PR practitioners? Of course having family and friends who actually understand what PR is and what we do is a huge thing to be thankful for in our field (and no, it’s not hiring and firing people), but what about the things that help keep us sane and make our jobs run smoothly?
We dug deep, racked our brains in search of the answers, and came up with is a list of nine things that every PR practitioner should be thankful for this year:
by Jonathan Haile
Some time ago, I was given a question on a test that I can’t recite, verbatim, but went something like, “How do public relations professionals convince members of the C-suite that social media is valuable?” The idea behind the question, I have to assume, is that while social media is valuable in getting audiences to embrace and share content, it doesn’t necessarily equal sales, profits, or return on investment.
This is another example of what has PR pros in a bit of a rut. Whereas, marketing professionals and advertisers have hard data they use to evaluate their work, creating and maintaining relationships don’t always have numbers that can be associated with them. A company’s bottom line is the most important thing and without hard data or facts, the social media pro can get lost in the fold.
We have to thank technology for making things so much easier in many ways, but technology offers the PR pro new powers. It can change soft data into hard, quantifiable data, and ultimately makes the PR pro more valuable. Here are some examples:
Public Relations students at the University of Central Missouri have the advantage of training with Vocus to create media contact lists. I can tell you from experience, it is nice to have the world’s media information at my finger tips, but like many other students, I didn’t know about all the benefits of Vocus beyond its media list capabilities until I investigated further.
Vocus can monitor conversations on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks. It uses what is called the “Recommendation Engine” to seek out key influencers, the opinion leaders who companies want to interact with online. It monitors conversations in such a way that if a campaign is embraced by the public in New York and Boston but lacking in Philadelphia, the PR pro will have statistics and data that will help them adjust the campaign accordingly. These are just a few things Vocus can do.
Not far from UCM, one of Kansas City’s fast-growing companies is Spiral16. Its software, similar to Vocus, gives the user or the company “Actionable Analytics” reports from conversations found on social media networks. These customizable reports are client-specific, and they even take into consideration what competitors are doing and saying, giving companies an edge. Using this kind of software takes some training, and Spiral16 helps its clients reach the its full potential with webinars and training sessions.
Originally from Belgium, Engagor recently made a new home in San Francisco. Much like Vocus and Spiral16, Engagor monitors conversations on social media, creates analytics reports for clients, and allows them to manage content for social media pages, much like Hootsuite.
Google searches are popular; I think most people would agree. Every time someone searches for something on Google, advertisements related to the search will pop up on the top, right side, or bottom of the page. Online marketers bid on their ads, and ad placement is a combination of the bid price, strength of the certain keywords, and a few other things.
Chances are, you might not have access to Vocus, Spiral16, or Engagor, but Google AdWords is available and certification can give you an advantage in online marketing. Even so, try to understand the purpose behind the other three products. If you can find example analytics reports, get to know them. Understand why they’re valuable. In some cases they’re expensive to use, but maybe you can prove to the C-suite why they should make the investment. There are many other examples of software with these capabilities, but I’ll allow you to do the further digging.
By Raysha Sally
UCM PR program professors often incorporate guest speakers into our curriculum by bringing alumni back to campus or inviting contacts to campus. Recently in Professor Tom Heapes’ PR Management and Industry Practices course, students were introduced to Eric Morgenstern, owner of Morningstar Communications in Kansas City.
Morgenstern spent his Monday afternoon chatting with students via Skype, and the information and insight he offered left a lasting impression. Morgenstern befriended Heapes at Boasberg Valentine Radford in Kansas City. They worked together for ten years before Morgenstern branched off and started Morningstar Communications on Oct 1, 1997.
Since the class Morgenstern was speaking to focuses on PR business and management, he gave insight into struggles he and his wife first faced when starting the business, but also spoke of their success. One story he told that stuck with students was that he had no job, no clients, and no income when he resigned from his position at Boasberg but the day of Morningstar’s launch was able to secure his first client. That number quickly grew from one to eight, then to 12. As Morningstar secured more clients, its number of employees increased; the Morgensterns quickly learned their family’s home could no longer act as the business’s office.
Lessons from a professional
Morgenstern’s stories regarding his personal experience, as well as his excitement helped keep students engaged in the discussion. In addition to being relatable and enthusiastic, his advice and wisdom also stuck with the students. He told students if they take one bit of information or fact from him it is to “Never (make anyone mad).” He explained the quote by saying that the industry is small and though you might “wear different jerseys and play for different teams,” it is important to value relationships because they might help you down the road. He referenced his relationship to Heapes; they once “wore the same jersey” but their careers took them to different teams yet they still communicate and utilize each other’s expertise from time to time.
Morgenstern advised students to be life-long learners and said those with a passion for learning will continue to be successful. He also encouraged students to read one business book every month. As a professional he considers life-long learners to be the best kind of people to hire. He used an analogy about the fax machine and how it revolutionized the way business was done; he explained everyone had to learn how to utilize fax machines. Now, of course, fax machines seem dated; business and technology are constantly changing and adapting and employees must be able to change and adapt as well.
One student asked Morgenstern for his definition of public relations; his response “Do good and get caught,” five simple words that put our four-year degree in perspective. He explained that as PR professionals we need to do the right thing and make it known to people that we are doing the right thing.
I challenge each and every one of you reading this to
By Jeremy Noble
Internships can give PR students more than just an opportunity to gain real world experience. They provide students with a chance to network with professionals. My personal experience with the Mid-Missouri Outlaws was valuable. The Mid-Missouri Outlaws are a Professional Indoor Football Organization that is committed to providing central Missouri with an outstanding venue for sports entertainment and an economic boost to the area. I managed all of the team’s social media, planned the Champions Professional Indoor Football League Kickoff, and generated sponsorships.
Mid-Missouri Outlaws helped me prepare for the real world. Working with the professional team is a really good learning experience for a college student who isn’t sure what area of the industry they’re best suited for. The Outlaws helped me realize what it is like to network with professional broadcasters. The broadcasters taught me how to communicate to sport broadcasters. I learned a lot about the marketing and business side of a sports organization. I was taught how to gain team sponsorships through different businesses and how to market a team’s brand to the community. This has made me more marketable to employers. Attending the national conferences and professional meetings helped me understand the power behind an organization.
I feel more comfortable going up to professionals and trying to communicate with them at an event that is taking place. I learned to be the first person who makes that initial contact. It’s helped me become more professional because it did feel like a job, not like a standard class. You are able to learn a lot from the professionals with in a sports team. I was able to network and gain contacts in the process.
I would recommend an internship with a professional sports team to anyone, especially for anyone interested in the sports area of the public relations field. I have learned so much from this internship and it has provided me with a part time social media job with United States Football Network.
Through my internship with the Outlaws I was able to network with different team owners and I was able to get a job with USFBN updating social media and managing client accounts. Learning about sports marketing and social media in my internship is something that prepared me for my job with USFBN.
By Breann Roettering
Resources surround public relations students at the University of Central Missouri (UCM) everyday. I encourage the students to open their eyes and take advantage of these resources to help prepare them for their career in the future.
The PR Department has wonderful faculty who share their knowledge with the students every day inside and outside of the classroom. Get to know your professors here at UCM. Our faculty members are experienced in a wide range of Public Relations, ranging from nonprofit organizations to agency work and design.
Public Relations students have the opportunity to be involved in UCM’s Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America. PRSSA conducts a number of events annually to benefit students, and to help them start making professional connections. If you haven’t checked out UCM PRSSA, I encourage you to do so. Each year the organization hosts PR Pro Day, an AP Style Workshop and a personal branding workshop that covers social media. PRSSA also gives you an opportunity to meet your peers and network at events in Kansas City such as The KC PR Summit, as well as social event in Warrensburg.
I have already mentioned it briefly, but it is very important to get to know other students in the program. A great place to start making those connections is in the classroom. Your fellow classmates are also going to graduate and become professionals someday. Get to know them and build those connections now. They may become a great source for you in the future and will be people to collaborate with and get advice from when you start your career.
The final networking tool students have at UCM is Innovative Public Relations (IPR.) IPR is a student PR firm housed in University Relations. Every PR student is encouraged to apply for IPR. There is an application and interview process, but do not let that scare you away. Working for IPR will help you gain experience in an agency setting and also is a great place to start networking. You will get the opportunity to work alongside the University Relations staff and gain experience working for real-life clients.
At UCM, students can begin networking right away. It will benefit you to get to know your professors, fellow students and administrators. After you graduate you will already have experience working in a professional environment. Start networking on campus and build a name for yourself now. Those connections may open a door for you to that dream job you are seeking. It will also help you build your confidence as you enter the job market because you will already have experience in networking yourself.
By Katie Johnson
It is that time of year again when we pull out the elastic pants, gather around a table, and eat more food in one sitting than what is probably humanly possible. Yes, that is right, Thanksgiving is around the corner, and for nearly 45 million Americans who diet each year, according to CBS News, this holiday can be dreaded by most.
It has become easier, however, to stay on track while dieting due to the enhancements in technology. According to the Mayo Clinic, research shows that people who count calories are more likely to lose weight than people who don’t. Many people do not know their calorie intake or the fat content of food, but by easily accessing it from smart phones and iPads this has become a much easier task. People now have information at their fingertips, resulting in making healthier choices regardless of location, which is the basic idea behind the” Lose it” app.
Fortunately, there is no shortage of health apps that help monitor everything from sleep patterns to calorie consumption. Since there are different apps that accomplish the same tasks it is difficult to choose which one is best. Researching the top health apps is the most important thing to do when inquiring about such a serious undertaking — your health.
One of the top-rated health apps is called Lose it, according to All Things D. This free app can be used on a smartphone or iPad, and is fairly easy to use, only requiring a few short steps. First the app asks for general information such as gender, weight, and most importantly, goals you want to achieve so that the app can calculate accordingly. On a daily basis it is important to then add in the meals eaten throughout the day along with any additional snacks consumed. When entering in the food it is possible to search by the brands if it becomes difficult to find the type of food needed. An additional bonus is the ability to scan barcodes which automatically adds the nutrition information into the log.
Although the first few times entering in food choices can be time-consuming due to the fact that nothing has been recorded in the history, it eventually gets quicker. Eventually the app begins saving the food items that are frequently being recorded. The app also makes it easier for people to make quick decisions about their food choices because of the calorie budget. It causes less hesitation and helps resulting in falling back into old habits.
This is an intuitive app that assists people in making some of those difficult decisions when it comes to deciding on what to eat. Instead of anticipating the intense workout following something as small as an unhealthy meal or something as large as a Thanksgiving feast, it can be avoided from the beginning. The Lose it app can help you make healthier decisions that you won’t regret later, at your own convenience.
By Raysha Sally
As communication styles change and social media becomes more and more an everyday part of life, society has adapted. Public relations professionals often see social media as a tool for reaching our publics, and though we all know there are negatives to social media can, I believe most professionals would agree it’s a positive thing. However, that isn’t always the case.
For many years graffiti was used as an outlet for gangs to mark their territory, but now they have moved to the Internet. Today, gangs use social media as a way to communicate with one another and plan organized crimes. In a study of five large cities, researchers found that social media is used by 80 percent of gang members (according to Solutions for State and Local Government Technologies).
Not only can gangs send messages via social media, they can also post videos of their crimes, recruit others, and of course threaten other gangs. Today a gang can simply post what they want the public to know to social media. With the vast majority of cellphones having cameras, anyone can be a videographer, and in just a few clicks that video of a crime can be shared with the world.
In addition, gangs use the Internet and social media to monitor where police officers are; they warn each other as well and give each other the all-clear. Another trend gangs use on the West Coast is referred to as “flocking.” This is where a mass text is sent to gang members, telling them to show up at a specific place and conduct an organized crime, according to Government Technologies.
Gangs also send slanderous messages to other gangs via rap song through sites such as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. Last fall, videos posted to the web were what led to 18-year-old rapper Lil JoJo’s murder in Chicago, according to Government Technologies.
Public relations professionals usually see social media as a cost effective way to send out a message, and now gangs view it in the same regard. By one person, simply, sharing a status, video or image, it can quickly be seen by thousands.
According to a Daytona Beach Journal, gangs utilizing social media was seen just last week when five boys beat up a 14-year-old, filming the crime and posting it to Facebook. Luckily there was a light at the end of the tunnel for police. The video was used as police evidence and the four boys were arrested.
Though social media has become a tool for gang members, police believe it can help them execute their jobs properly as well. If officers know the ins and outs of how to utilize social media as a tool to catch gang members and criminals, more justice can be served. Unfortunately, officers fear they might not be able to prevent the crimes. For example, in the Florida case, officers were able to find those guilty of the crime because of the video, but they were unable to prevent the crime, itself. The hope is with the proper training, social media will become a more valuable tool for law enforcement than it is for gang members and criminals.
Many times in public relations we are faced with the question: Is this situation a problem or an opportunity? Therefore I will ask you, is the rise of social media use among gangs a problem for police or an opportunity?