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Check out the tabs above to get to know us, or read our latest blog posts below.
By Andrea “Nickey” Buzek
“Guys, I’ve never been on an airplane before,” I said to Adriana and Mark, the “A” and “M” to Team AMN.
Their eyebrows raised and I got the usual: “What?” “Really?” and “That’s crazy,” although, I don’t think they understood what I meant. Finally, I stopped the conversation and grabbed both of their arms. “GUYS! I’ve never been on a plane. Our client is in LA. What if we fly to him to give our final evaluation?” I said. Much like everyone else, they were interested, but doubtful that it was attainable.
I was fully aware that a trip like this would take hundreds of dollars. I also knew that Innovative PR didn’t have the funds to send three students on a trip to Los Angeles. I am a first-generation college student, working my way through college, so I really knew that I couldn’t pay for it. It was time to take my education from the classroom to the real world.
On Oct. 17, the social media campaign “Help Get Team AMN to LA!” was created with the objective of raising $800 through donations only by Nov. 9 to fund my portion of the trip. The $800 included travel expenses, food, lodging and emergency funds, with any funding beyond trip expenses to be used to help Innovative Public Relations fund its graduate position.
GoFundMe, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and WordPress were the outlets used to start crowdsourcing. Over a four week period, I posted updates about how Team AMN was preparing for our trip. It included summaries of our workweek, pictures of projects and spotlights of the team members. Facebook posts received the most attention, naturally.
Grandmothers love sharing their babies, but grandma wasn’t the only one to share the updates. Family, friends, colleagues, UCM faculty members and random people I had never met before would actually share my posts. Instagram was the second most successful outlet with a record of 77 likes for one image. Twitter and WordPress were used periodically, but there was a lack of engagement on those platforms.
The first donation came on Oct. 17, and other donations flooded in soon after. Word-of-mouth started to take over. I had people coming up to me on campus asking how the fundraising was going, asking how they could help and even handing me money from their own pocket. The amount of support the campaign received was incredible, but what would public relations work be without a crisis.
On Oct. 25, Team AMN was notified that no university-related coursework for credit was allowed to be presented on this trip due to liability issues. This was a major problem considering Help Get Team AMN to LA! was built around us doing our evaluation in LA. I channeled my inner crisis communication training and decided to notify every person, who had donated, of the change. I also made updates detailing the shift in plans to get the word out to those who hadn’t donated. The campaign was repositioned to an educational trip rather than a business one. I communicated that Team AMN would still be touring all public relations agencies mentioned and that we still needed help funding. Honesty, as usual, was the best policy. Though, I gave donors an opportunity to be refunded, every one of them told me to keep the money and to make the most of the trip.
Looking back over this campaign, it was a huge success. My goal was to raise $800 by Nov. 9, but I walked onto the plane that day with $996.99. Not only did my community help me to achieve what I set out to accomplish, but they continued to give after the goal was met. Help Get Team AMN to LA! was able to donate $434.49 back into IPR, making a difference for the graduate position. The campaign caught the attention of alumni, faculty members and colleagues. It also helped me to understand what it really takes to implement a social media campaign, as well the benefits a PR practitioner could receive from one. The lessons I learned on Team AMN’s business trip will never be forgotten, but this pre-trip lesson was definitely one for the books.
If you would like to take a look into the tactics used for Help Get Team AMN to LA!, check out www.gofundme.com/our-first-la-business-trip. Improvement is the key to success, so if you would like to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of this campaign, please leave a comment or direct message us via our social media outlets.
By Sarah Schroll
For a company in today’s world, it is extremely important to establish and maintain a social media presence. Social media is a great tool for a brand’s audience to not only learn quick information about products, but also to personally connect with the company. Although social media is meant to entertain and inform, many companies zone in on the inform aspect and lose sight of the entertaining and human aspect that your brand can carry.
Twitter is a great way to connect with your audience because it gives a business a faster ways to quickly communicate information to its audience. One industry that stands above the rest for being virally entertaining is the fast food industry. Below are a few examples of how four fast food brands have successfully used twitter to interact with their publics.
KFC is known for its 11 secret herbs and spices that are used in the bread coating on their chicken. On October 19, Twitter user @edgette22 discovered that KFC only follows 11 people on twitter–the five women who made up the Spice Girls and six men named Herb.
This clever idea came from Wieden+Kennedy, the integrated advertising agency that works with KFC, who implemented this Easter egg in September.
“Frankly, we weren’t sure if anybody was going to find it. Sometimes you just have to put stuff out into the universe and cross your fingers that the internet will work its magic,” said Freddie Powell, creative director for Wieden+Kennedy.
Since this initial tweet, Twitter made the post virial with retweets and likes. News outlets such as ABC News and the Chicago Tribune also picked up the story and reported on it.
Earlier this year, Twitter users began to see sassy replies to comments that people used to tag Wendy’s. These simple and funny replies gave people the chance to interact with the brand in a way that was bold and different from most restaurant chains on Twitter. Wendy’s became a trending topic on Twitter because of this and was mentioned on multiple news outlets.
Now, Wendy’s continues to roll out a few funny replies to different customers, and most recently participated in a rap battle with fellow fast food chain Wingstop.
Arby’s has found a unique way to promote its products and brands–by using fandoms. This fast food restaurant chain primarily posts photos that target different animes, cartoons and former or currently popular television shows. Arby’s uses cardboard cutouts of characters posing with their food to get people engaged with their posts.
This has been such a successful ongoing tactic for their twitter account because Arby’s is reaching so many fan bases in a different way. Many posts also have a nostalgic element to them that draws Millennials and Generation Xers.
Burger King has developed a very specific voice for their Twitter, making funny, short and sometimes nonsensical comments that are entertaining. Making comments that seem like something a Young Adult would say, Burger King has focused its voice on Twitter to really resonate with its target audience.
What other companies have you seen that have used Twitter to connect with their audience in a unique way? Let us know in the comments below and make sure to check us out on Facebook and Twitter.
By Ashley Perry
Professionals look at social media profiles more than you think. Social media background checks are a significant part of an application process. From your “likes” to tagged photographs, employers will find it all. While social media is for personal use, you still need to think of it as an extension of your resume and self brand. What you may post on social media is a direct representation of yourself and the potential employment you are seeking. Here are some quick tips on how to clean up your social media profiles:
Look through all photos/tagged
Photos posted on social media profiles are the quickest way to lose a job offer. Do not post questionable photos of yourself that can portray you in a negative light. Friends don’t let friends post pictures of each other making bad decisions. Set your profile to notify you when someone is wanting to tag you in a photo. This will save any bad light shining on you from another individual’s mistake. Here is a link to Facebook’s help center on how to change your tagging settings.
Clean out likes and groups
Back when social media first became popular, liking as many interests and joining groups was the fun thing to do. Those likes and groups you have joined may still be on your profile today. When cleaning out your social media, you should look on your “about” tab and search through the extra features. Slim down the amount of liked pages and groups joined. This will help your profile look more professional. Here is a link from Facebook’s help center on how to find your likes and groups.
Watch comments made
When friends post on their social media, you may want to share your true opinion. Keep in mind that social media leaves a direct trail to any comment that you have made. Foul language or offensive words can come back to hurt you in the long run.
Overall, keep your future in mind when posting on social media. Social media is a public profile for the world to see how you display yourself. Make your social media a positive representation of who you are, not a negative one. If used correctly, social media can positively affect your future employment.
By Andrea “Nickey” Buzek
When speaking of a company’s social media accounts, it only makes sense that all platforms have the same theme. For example, if you went to Wal-Mart’s Facebook page, you would expect to see the same blue and yellow graphics and posts as their Twitter page, right? In the public relations field, this important concept is known as branding.
Now, let’s take that same idea and apply it to your brand across your social media platforms. When people search your profile, do they see the same theme through your posts, or do they see vibrant red on one profile and light blues on another? Having inconsistent content may cause your audience to lose sight of who you are as a person. Unifying your profiles can give future employers a sense of professionalism and cohesiveness as they examine you as an applicant.
Let’s begin with the appearance of your profile. Analyzing the type of photos you post may cause you to see a theme. Find pictures that represent you as a person and seem to have the same color scheme. Make them the most visible on your page. Set one of them as your cover photo across all platforms, and make sure your profile picture complements it. If Twitter is a platform you use, you have the option to set your text color to the same color scheme as your cover photo and profile picture. This will be the finishing touch on your color coding.
Your bio to every platform should be the same. Social media sites often have a limit to the number of characters you can use because people rarely want to read long-winded texts. Keep this in mind when typing your bio. Give brief information that provides important details to the profile you have created.
Next, consider your friends or following list. When people search your profile to find commonalities, they often go to your friends list first. If they see people of interest to them, they are likely to think you fall under the same category. While follow for follow seems nice, making sure you stick to a follow strategy will gather more followers that are in line with your personal brand.
Once you’ve established your friends list, your target audience will begin to gravitate toward your page. This is where you need to consider post content. People enjoy reading posts that are interesting and/or valuable. Find out what is interesting and/or valuable to yourself and those who follow you. Make comments and repost items that will likely attract the attention of others in your area. This will make you more relevant to those who follow you.
Unifying your brand across all platforms of social media can take some time if you’ve never thought of posting in a strategic manner. 10 Best Social Media Management Applications can provide tips on apps that can help you.
By Adriana Vivas
Since August, our part of the hemisphere was devastated with multiple class 4 and 5 hurricanes in the Caribbean, Puerto Rico and closer to home in Texas and Florida. Additionally, two earthquakes have rocked southern parts of Mexico just days after the first 7.1 earthquake in Mexico City. Many people have lost everything they own in the destruction from these natural disasters. As a PR person, knowing how to respond to natural disasters and connect people in times of devastation is key. Here are some tips on how you as a PR person can help:
Even if your company/organization was not directly affected by the natural disaster, showing support can demonstrate to your audience and those affected your knowledge of the situation while also adding to your public image. However, try not to overdo brand building in the event of a natural disaster.
Posting a link your audience can access to donate toward relief efforts can make a huge difference. Either linking to your company/organization’s website or social media can create awareness your audience might otherwise not have seen. More awareness equals more donations and some donations don’t have to be monetary. Water, food and other goods are being requested by the governments and relief teams who are helping.
If your company/organization decides to respond, make sure the focus is community first and business second. While it is not wrong to create a better public image of your brand, doing so before directing attention on the community and people affected by the natural disaster can create a negative response.
With these tips in mind, you and your company/organization can not only create a more positive image for your brand, but also make a REAL difference in the lives of those affected by these terrible natural disasters. And remember…
“ We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone” – Ronald Reagan
Before writing this blog, the writer, Morgan Anderson, would like to extend her deepest condolences to the victims and families of those affected by this national tragedy. For the privacy of the victims, names have been omitted.
By Morgan Anderson
On October 1, at 10:08 p.m. local time shots rang out at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas. The current total of those injured as of Monday, October 2 at 2:00 p.m. is 515 people injured and 58 deceased. CNN has said, “By the time [James] Paddock was dead, it was the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history.”
After the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, social media was flooded with information ranging from trying to find any connections to terrorist groups to videos of the tragedy taking place. One group of videos with the hashtag #prayforlasvegas has been shared over 55,000 times on Facebook, and contains graphic video of the shooting, including victims lying down on their stomachs screaming with their necks covered.
On Twitter, tweets are going viral for those looking for loved ones at the concert. Multiple tweets have been issued out by the Las Vegas Police Department on how to find loved ones who were at the concert.
On Snapchat, their news account, “Discover,” has released the snapchat stories of individuals at the concert in a video labeled “Las Vegas Shooting.” This video also had pop-up facts about what happened during each snap. The user-submitted snapchats were edited and compiled by Snapchat, and then released.
This is not the first time that Twitter has expanded its use to help those in need. During Hurricane Harvey, Irma, Jose, Katia and Maria, Twitter was used as a way for people to contact local police and volunteers to get to safety when emergency lines were overflowing.
During times of panic and terror, people turn to social media now more than ever. Twitter gives users the ability to contact anyone, anywhere and get a direct answer quickly. Facebook gives us the ability to connect with family and friends from all over the world. Snapchat gives us the ability to talk to friends and have fun doing it.
These three social media accounts provide the world a new way to deal with disaster. From natural to horrific, social media has grown through the worst events in this century.
I wish I could tell you how hard it was to write this blog. I should never have to write a blog titled “How Disasters Have Expanded the Use of Social Media.” I shouldn’t have to write about how hurricanes and mass shootings have evolved social media, or how instead of calling 9-1-1 because the line is full, they move to Twitter and Facebook begging for help from others.
The truth is, 58 families lost a loved one. Over 20,000 people who attended this concert had their lives changed, and not for the better, and more people know about it because of social media.
Innovative PR extends our deepest condolences to the victims, their family and friends, and everyone impacted by this horrific tragedy.
By Sarah Schroll
Each day, 1.5 billion viewers watch an hour or more of videos on YouTube. Over the last five years, YouTube has increased its viewership ten-fold and the different kinds of content has expanded. Because of this, companies are contacting popular YouTubers to showcase and promote their products as social media influencer relations has increased in importance. Below are a few ways that YouTubers have changed the game for public relations.
A trend with more popular YouTubers is having videos where the YouTuber strictly opens products that were sent to them from companies. With many of these videos reaching a million or more views, companies are seeing the value of sending an item to a YouTuber with the channel content in mind. This gives the company the potential of not only getting screen time for their products but also gives that YouTuber the opportunity to make a future video using their product.
Many companies have found it beneficial to send new products to YouTubers because it gives them visibility and credibility that advertisements and paid sponsorships do not. In the PR Haul video that is pictured above, YouTuber Tati opens a product that was sent to her by L’Oreal Cosmetics and says “I think I need to do a video on this actually, not sponsored, just sent to me.” Two weeks after the haul video was posted, Tati made a video using the product.
These are videos that have little to no sponsorship attached. This style of video gives the impression that the YouTuber is providing their honest opinion of the product. If this product is liked by the YouTuber, it can be a powerful component in the consumer’s decision to buy. This is a doubled–edged sword, however, because many YouTubers will discuss products that they didn’t care for as well.
One of the oldest ways that companies have showcased their products on YouTube is through sponsorships. This could be showcasing products in a video and having a link to the product in the description or simply stating that the video is sponsored in the title. Sponsorships are mutually beneficial to both parties as both receive revenue from the collaboration. The content of these videos tend to have more of an advertisement feel and some people may not find it appealing.
By Ashley Perry
Being a student and being a well-rounded student are two different things. Students do the bare minimum and settle for average. Well-rounded students try to think outside the box and explore more options than what is required. Being in the public relations field, we need things that will differentiate us from others. After doing some research on qualities public relations professionals need, I have found three key tips for you to try:
Have an Organized Planner
Organization is key to any college student or working professional. Since public relations is a deadline-driven career, you might as well start organizing a planner.
With many places to be and many assignments due in a day, a planner is must. Having a planner with both a monthly overview and a weekly overview is beneficial. Personally, I like to write down what is needed to complete on the monthly overview, and small details in the weekly overview. Having a check list also helps me to make sure I am completing the tasks needed to be accomplished that day.
In class it may feel like some professors are going on and on about irrelevant topics. You need to trust that your professors know what they are talking about. Professors want you to succeed in the public relations field. Showing up to class is always a must. Do not skip out because you think it will be an easy day and you would rather sleep. Every class is vital and was carefully planned out to for your benefit as a student. Really read into your public relations books. Try not to glance over the books or only read certain sections. Take advantage of what the book has to offer. It is always a good idea to keep some of the public relations books for use as future references. Good examples of books to keep would be; Associated Press Stylebook and Start With Why.
Break Out of Comfort Your Zone
Start small with breaking out of your comfort zone. Stay after class to talk with professors about what you can do to improve, or ask them a question about something that was discussed in class. Not only will this allow you to have a better understanding of the course, but you will also be networking with that professor. Take advantage of any speakers that come to campus. Here at Central Missouri, we have Public Relations Pro Day.This is always a great opportunity to get your resume out there and start networking with outstanding PR Pros who could one day be a reference. Get out of your comfort zone by attending sessions with these speakers and network with them. Get involved with organizations on campus to help better brand yourself and receive a more hands-on education with real clients. Any leadership roles you can achieve will look great on a resume. You are branding yourself with everything that you do. Here is a blog written by Andrew Hudson that further explains how to break out of your comfort zone and network.
I hope that after reading this blog, you are more motivated to continue growing as a well-rounded student. Keep putting in hard word toward your Public Relation classes and future. “Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” -Steve Jobs
By Mark Bartlett
Building your Twitter following can be daunting and difficult for organizations. Below are several strategies that can be implemented to help increase your following.
The Mass Follow Strategy is a concept in which one follows an abundance of accounts, in hopes that they will follow back. Stefan Tanese, a social media researcher, implemented this strategy by following 50,000 people—but only 8,000 people followed in return. That means Tanese had a 17 percent follow-back rate.
There are a couple pitfalls to this strategy, technically and practically. In a technical sense, Twitter has established rules that block users from following over 2,000 profiles unless they are also being followed by a similar number to deter automated accounts, mass marketers, and spam. In a practical sense, most of the followers that follow back automatically will be mass marketers and spammers, rendering the mass-follow technique useless.
The equal ratio strategy can be defined as having an account that keeps the follower to following ratio as equal as possible. To successfully use this strategy, you should only choose to follow users that seem most likely to follow you back. This strategy is usually too time consuming, unless the brand is well-known.
The target follow strategy can be best used by first following (50-150) profiles that have similar interests, target audiences or even ideas as you. This may include competition for some businesses.
Follow profiles that have the equal follower/following counts, these profiles are more likely to follow back. To increase the chance of a follow back, mentioning the account in a tweet will inform the person about gaining a follower.
The above graphic shows Twitters “suggested followers” option. This is meant to steer you towards followers that might spark your interest or share your interest.
Crafting an Effective Twitter Channel
After you have successfully mastered the framework for building your following, keeping an effective channel with interesting content can be another challenge. Below are several tips and rules to consider for your channel.
Rule of thumb: Do not market too much. Focusing on relationships first will distinguish you from the crowd of advertisers.
Provide others with links and mentions and they may reciprocate.
Keep a 10:1 ratio in mind at all times. For each self-promotional tweet, there should be 10 mentioned tweets. Generously mentioning other accounts will foster connections for the future.
Post when people are updating the most—midday during mid-week have been shown to be the most frequent times.
A prime example of optimal time was Oreo’s “You can still dunk in the dark” tweet that was posted during the 2013 NFL Super Bowl.
Keep time zones in mind at all times.
Firms frequently use twitter to answer questions from their publics.
Example, Nike uses a separate Twitter handle @nikesupport to provide a single place to answer user questions quickly.
Micro blogging lets users seek input from others in a business context and responding to comments, questions, or issues that customers have.
Providing useful information can build a brands reputation and thought leadership.
Ask consumers directly for feedback. This is a much cheaper option then focus groups or other tools. When asked politely, twitter users are happy to give their opinion.
Feedback on twitter can be very helpful, so it is good practice to encourage and reward users who provide it. These give and take relationships can aggregate into a gathering input machine that could have a huge input on your organizations message.
Why follow and listen to the messages being offered? If you cannot answer this question, then your message is not clear.
A good way to keep viewer’s attention is to offer special deals like coupons, special products, free shipping, promotions, etc.
The most important aspect is that the deal is only available to Twitter users. Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign is an example.
By Morgan Anderson
Social media has been a critical part of public relations for almost 20 years, and its importance continues to increase. From Facebook to Reddit, this important tool can help you get your message to the public or social media and affect the way people view you. These four tips can help make your brand stand out from the rest.
1. Consistency is key
Having the same layout across each social media account will help to create a cohesive image of your brand for the consumer. Having consumers instantly recognize your brand is a positive outcome of social media. Make sure to use the same photo for each profile picture. On each social media platform you use, make certain to adjust it to the proper length so your page looks professional and appropriate.
2. Know the layout
An image that is not pixilated demonstrates the professionalism of your brand. You want your images to be clear and not appear to be stretched out in any way. Each social media platform has a different layout, so ensuring that your photos are the highest quality is beneficial. Here is a link to all the popular social media page sizes so you are able to have your images look the best. (http://socialdrive.us/content-strategy/image-sizes-for-social-media-profiles/)
3. Follow the trend
Pay attention to what your consumers are talking about. On most social media, you can find a “trending” section that has all the most popular subjects for that day. Stay in the loop and do some research on the subjects before posting so you know what you are posting about. Some trending items can be recurring and often are tailored to a certain day of the week,such as #motivationalmonday or #throwbackthursday. Others could be about current events or a viral video. Hashtags can expand your reach across social media even further.
4. Engage the consumer
Engaging the consumer is one of the best things you can do for your brand. Whether it is liking a tweet from a consumer who mentioned your product or engaging with someone who had a negative review, starting a conversation with your consumer could create a lifelong advocate of your brand. Opening a dialogue between your brand and your consumer base enhances the relationship.