Category: Internal Communications

Four Creation Tips For Your Online Portfolio

By Nickey Buzek

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“Can I see some of your work?” You may have a wealth of experience and the skills to back it up, but if your abilities aren’t coming across in an easy-to-access fashion, you may be missing professional opportunities. Here are four tips that will make your online portfolio showcase your skills:

  1. Choose the right platform – There are a multitude of providers dedicated to helping you build a website. Some of them include Wix, Squarespace, and web.com. You’ll want to do your research and make sure their platform aligns with your portfolio goals. If your public relations skills are focused on design, for example, you’ll want to choose a platform that lets you be more creative with visuals. If your skills lean more toward the written aspect of PR, you’ll want a platform that showcases verbiage.
  2. Choose a design – While each of the providers mentioned above will give you suggestions on funky templates, there are two basic designs that are proven to enhance user experience (UX). The F pattern is used for websites with large amounts of content. Wikipedia is an excellent example. Notice that important headers are on the left and description information flows to the right.
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    Image credit: wikipedia.org

    This makes it easier for the user to locate information and understand the organization of the page. The Z pattern, however, is the pattern you’ve probably seen most often. It uses four main spaces for important information: the top left, top right, middle, bottom left and bottom right. This pattern is used so often that internet surfers are quickly frustrated when they can’t find important information in its “natural spot.” Using the Z pattern will cater to user’s natural search.

  3. Showcase your skills – While your portfolio is a reflection of you as a person, the purpose of the website is to showcase your skills. Refrain from making your homepage a giant picture of your face with a bio attached. Chances are, if someone’s already on your portfolio website, they’ve already met you. Have your homepage showcase the different areas your skills cover. Include clickable images or links that take them to more in-depth examples and explanations.
  4. Create a visual guide – The aesthetics of your website act as the user’s road map. Manipulating content size, color, groupings, and contrast will help the user understand what content you want them to look at first. 123222221223223Large items and bright colors will be seen first, and items grouped together help the user see what items go with one another. When creating your visual guide, it’s helpful to have someone look at it who has a third-party view. How they navigate your website will more than likely be how others navigate your website.

 

Designing a portfolio that’s easy to use, aesthetically pleasing, and easy to navigate is a daunting task when you’re just trying to meet the needs of people asking to look at your work. Just remember, your portfolio is meant to showcase your skills in an easy-to-navigate fashion. These four tips can start you on the path to success, but don’t hesitate to take a deeper dive into the world of website design!

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Crockpot Controversy Crisis

By Emily Thole

*Warning. This post may contain spoilers about the hit TV show, “This is Us.” Proceed with caution.*

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Image credit: NBC.com

 

“This is Us” is the television show everyone is telling you to watch. It is full of happiness, anger, sadness, joy and every emotion in between, however, there is one monumental episode that you can’t forget. If you’re anything like me, this blog post will bring up a flood of emotions, so get your tissues ready.

As avid viewers of the show, we all know where we were when Jack died. Yes, I’m bringing up that heartbreaking moment. I was sitting with my roommates on our red leather couch in the living room, staring at the small screen with tears rolling down our faces, full of disbelief. This man fearlessly saved his entire family from a house fire, and then went back into the blazing building to rescue his daughter’s dog and a few personal items, only to wind up valiantly perishing. He was a hero, and then he was gone. Not because of burns, or an injury that was visible, but for having too much smoke in his lungs. This is the drama that keeps viewers coming back.

What does this tragic scene have to do with public relations? Well, after the episode, fans were boycotting one particular brand, and because of that, they had a crisis on their hands.

One thing I didn’t mention was how the fire started in the Pearson household. It was a Crock-Pot. The faulty slow cooker is accidentally left on and it starts a fire in the family’s kitchen, which leads to the entire house burning down, and later, Jack’s demise. Fans of the show immediately took to the Internet to share their heartbreak and frustration over the episode and the Crock-Pot brand. Their name was disgraced, and their stock plummeted, but Crock-Pot’s response to the crisis is one PR professionals can learn from.

 

Quick Response

First, Crock-Pot responded quickly. They released a statement less than 24-hours after the show aired. And shortly after they sent out a news release stating facts about their products to ease consumers’ minds that can be read fully here. Not only that, but they created a Twitter page called “CrockPotCares” to respond to viewers who were concerned about product safety, and throwing away their Crock-Pots.

 

Empathy

Crock-Pot did a great job of listening to consumers’ complaints. They understood that people were upset, and they did their best to respond with understanding to build back their image. They even created the hashtag #CrockPotIsInnocent to use in their responses to defend their brand.

Good tweet to consumer https://twitter.com/CrockPotCares/status/956258200239706114

Free crockpot https://twitter.com/CrockPotCares/status/956278840103448577

 

Help from Star Power

Although this was a crisis they didn’t see coming, Crock-Pot wasn’t afraid to ask for help when getting their image back. They used the actor who portrays Jack, Milo Ventimiglia, in a commercial promoting the Super Bowl, joking about the Crock-Pot controversy. “The Late Show” host, Stephen Colbert, mentioned the issue on his show, stirring up conversation. Ellen DeGeneres even partnered with the company to hand out Crock-Pots as one of the giveaways on her show. Each of these people helped Crock-Pot restore their image.

A crisis can pop up at any time. Companies must be prepared in case a television show uses your product to kill off a beloved character. In a time of crisis, PR professionals can use Crock-Pot as an example. Although the situation presented on screen was fictional, Crock-Pot responded successfully and recovered quickly because of the crisis plan they had in place.

 

Crockpot even got Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) to make a video joking about the crisis as a whole (https://twitter.com/CrockPotCares/status/959789384785715200)

SUPER BOWL

Their own hashtag #CrockPotIsInnocent

Ellen https://twitter.com/CrockPotCares/status/961722927833067521

Stephen cobert https://twitter.com/CrockPotCares/status/958022381741764609

Good tweet to consumer https://twitter.com/CrockPotCares/status/956258200239706114

Free crockpot https://twitter.com/CrockPotCares/status/956278840103448577

Starting with Why: Public Relations in Action

By Meredith Trapper

As a student, I often find myself relating activities or hobbies to the things I am learning in class. However, this year I was able to do the opposite and take what I have learned in the classroom and apply it to my executive position in Delta Zeta sorority.

This past year I served as the vice president of membership for Delta Zeta. In this role, my main purpose was to prepare our current members for fall recruitment. Training for recruitment can begin as early as January and include a number of workshops.

Being a young PR professional, I started to ask myself some questions. Why am I doing this? Why do I need to train my members? Why do we do recruitment? In doing this, I was reminded of the book we read in Orientation to PR, ‘Start with Why.’ In this book, we looked at the importance of knowing your “why” in all aspects of life. I took this very simple lesson and applied it to our first training session. I found a TED talk about the book and a poem that got our members to reflect on the questions I had been asking myself. By doing this, members were able to find the purpose of our activities and stay motivated for all recruitment workshops.

 

The next training session, I applied yet another classroom lesson. We completed a SWOT analysis (strength, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) of our sorority. We also discussed who our target audience would be during recruitment. We looked at ourselves internally and then discussed the types of women we wanted in the future. This helped us strategize on how to engage this type of women we were searching for.

Spring semester is also a good time to look at our “brand” and what we want that to look like to those outside of the organization. We pride ourselves in being a group of intelligent, diverse women who empower one another, but how do we show that? We took to social media to try to reflect this. We took an old idea of a hashtag and ran with it. #TakeoverTuesday was used in the weeks leading up to recruitment to show ways that our women had empowered one another.

 

If you want to empower your brand, “start with your why” and build from your answer. You might be shocked what you learned about yourself and your organization.

 

Taking a Knee

By Emily Thole

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Image credit: Yahoo Sports and Associated Press

 

In the restless and brutal sea of social media, taking a risk could leave a company struggling for air. You may have noticed from recent events, Nike decided to jump into the water head first by tackling a highly controversial topic in the U.S. With immediate response, the internet both attacked and commended Nike for taking a knee on a political subject that many brands and  organizations avoid.

Colin Kaepernick, former San Francisco 49er’s quarterback who inspired player protest throughout the NFL, tweeted a photo marking him as the newest face of Nike.

The photo shared stated, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” Since Kaepernick’s first protest in 2016, where he kneeled during the national anthem against police brutality, he has received backlash from the NFL and people around the country. His actions ultimately left him without a spot on any team, but Nike decided to endorse him anyway. In the early stages of the “Just Do It” campaign’s 30th anniversary, they made a statement.

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Image credit: Twitter.com

 

As a result of the partnership, Nike made headlines. Celebrities including Jamie Lee Curtis, Serena Williams, Russell Crowe and COMMON were praising the brand on Twitter alongside Americans throughout the nation.

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Image credit: Twitter.com

 

But with the good also comes the bad, and even ugly. Multiple individuals took to social media posting images and videos of themselves burning their Nike products, and cutting the swoosh logo from their socks and apparel, voicing that they will never shop with the brand again.

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Image credit: Twitter.com

 

Nike isn’t the first brand to tackle a controversial issue. Many other companies have taken a stance on social issues as well. Dick’s Sporting Goods protested gun violence after the Parkland, Fla. massacre by saying they would no longer sell assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and also prohibit the sale of guns to customers under the age of 21. Airbnb shot back at President Trump when he closed the borders to refugees in a campaign called, “We Accept,” by voicing their company’s acceptance of other races and nationalities in a time when the biggest figurehead of the nation was saying the opposite. When the U.S. pulled out the Paris Agreement, Ben and Jerry’s started a campaign called, “Save Our Swirled,” focusing on the topic of climate change. Each of these brands were criticized for becoming politically involved, just like Nike.

For a brand with popularity around the world, what form of success can come from this controversial partnership? Through all the back and forth of praise and hate, will either party prosper?

It depends on how you measure success, and from my research, numbers don’t lie. According to the Washington Post, after an initial drop when Kaepernick shared the photo, Nike online sales went up 31 percent. The incident got people to talk about the organization, and, whether positive or negative, the Nike brand was pushed to the forefront of their minds. According to Bloomberg, the company received over $43million in media exposure in the first 24 hours, and that continues to grow.

Risking your brand’s reputation is scary, but if it is something you believe in, take a knee and show the world what you stand for.

Innovative PR wins professional awards for #teamUCM Social Media Night

By Blake Hedberg

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WARRENSBURG, Mo. (Aug. 27, 2018) — The University of Central Missouri’s student-led public relations firm, Innovative PR, received two professional awards this summer for its 2017 event #teamUCM Social Media Night. The agency competed against many for-profit businesses in the Greater Kansas City Area.

The Kansas City chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) awarded #teamUCM Social Media Night a KC Quill award, the second time in the firm’s history to receive this honor. However, the winning wasn’t over for Innovative PR for the summer. In July, the firm received a Silver AMPS award from the Social Media Club of Kansas City at the organization’s annual banquet.

“We are incredibly honored to be distinguished for our work. Many hours went into making this event a reality and it is a great feeling to see the work of our students pay off,” said Agency Manager Blake Hedberg. “The 2017 event pushed our agency to new heights and created many opportunities, while providing visibility to our firm. I had a great team behind me.”

For six consecutive years, Innovative PR has been the driving force behind UCM’s popular #teamUCM Social Media Night event. Launched in 2013, the event takes place during a UCM Mules and Jennies basketball game and has engaged, entertained, and rewarded participants with a night of prizes, trivia, and contests.

The spring 2017 Innovative PR team raised more than $2,000 in donations and their comprehensive social media plan ushered in more than 1.2 million media impressions. IPR and UCM Athletics social media impressions more than tripled, while mentions increased more than 40 percent and profile visits nearly tripled over 2016 event numbers.

“Innovative PR’s work on behalf of its many clients is excellent. Winning the 2018 awards is an illustration of that excellence,” said program supervisor Dr. Tricia Hansen Horn. “We are proud to have the agency’s work represented and recognized by the Kansas City IABC and the Social Media Club of Kansas City.”

For more than nine years, students in the UCM Public Relations Program that are accepted into the UCM Innovative PR agency have the opportunity to gain real-life experience, while working with several client projects. In its time, more than 100 students have dedicated more than 22,000 hours of service to the greater UCM community.

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Innovative Public Relations (Innovative PR) is University of Central Missouri’s student public relations firm, managed and operated by UCM public relations students. Under the direction of UCM’s Integrated Marketing and Communications office and the academic public relations program, the firm was founded in January 2010. It is comprised of several public relations students who are dedicated to professional development and public relations initiatives. Innovative PR is committed to serving the UCM community by executing timely, accurate and ethical strategies and tactics, with a goal of serving clients outside of the UCM community in the future. For more information, visit ucminnovativepr.com or contact Innovative PR at ipr@ucmo.edu or 660-543-8557.

Four tips for improving your communication skills

Image credit: checkerboard.com

Image credit: checkerboard.com

By Haley Gleason

After reading the title of this post, I’m sure you’re thinking, “I can communicate just fine with people.” However, you may not be as effective as you think. The world is constantly changing around us, and the same goes for the ways in which we communicate. As future business professionals, we must take the necessary steps to stand out from the crowd, and being exceptional communicators is a great way to do it. With that in mind, here are a few tips to improve your communication skills.

1. (Actually) Listen to others

Hearing what people have to say is something we do on a daily basis. However, are we truly listening? Many of us take listening for granted, believing we are good listeners simply because we hear others. Yet many people they feel as if they are not receiving the full attention of those they converse with. According to Chip Rose, a professional mediator, “We all use language to communicate, to express ourselves, to get our ideas across, and to connect with the person to whom we are speaking. When a relationship is working, the act of communicating seems to flow relatively effortlessly. When a relationship is deteriorating, the act of communicating can be as frustrating as climbing a hill of sand.” Personal and professional relationships alike require both parties to listen effectively. Therefore, it is important to take steps to avoid disruptions, such as our phones, background noise or even our own thoughts.

Bearing this in mind, consider making these personal adjustments as necessary to be a more effective listener:

  1. Face the speaker and use eye contact.
  2. Use body language and gestures.
  3. Keep an open mind.
  4. Don’t interrupt. Listen to everything others have to say before you provide feedback.
  5. Ask questions to ensure you understand what others are saying.

2. Provide valuable feedback

Image credit: drawing-factory.com

Image credit: drawing-factory.com

Providing valuable feedback goes hand-in-hand with listening. You can only truly provide valuable feedback if you listen to what a person has to say. It is not always easy, but it is obtainable with conscious effort. One aspect to consider that is very important in providing feedback is patience.The point of providing feedback is to improve and/or satisfy the person you are talking to, which is best accomplished by exercising patience and conveying your support. Being honest is another important part of good feedback, but note that you are often not going to get your point across by being critical or harsh, as this behavior often causes people to become guarded or hostile. Again, exercise patience and provide feedback in a positive, supportive manner.

Feedback also requires constant attention and timeliness. This is especially true since methods of communication have changed. Feedback is more relevant when provided as soon as possible, and modern technology enables near instantaneous responses. Make an effort to utilize your resources and provide feedback in a timely matter when it is needed the most.

3. Break down boundaries

Image credit: mentalfloss.com

Image credit: mentalfloss.com

Sometimes, poor communication skills may make you feel as if you’re on a deserted island, attempting to send a message in a bottle which no one ever receives. In a way, you may have unknowingly placed yourself on that deserted island by not breaking down boundaries with whom you are trying to communicate with.

The first step to break down these boundaries is to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Try to understand where their opinions and ideas are coming from. This does not mean you have to always agree, but gaining an understanding of their stance can help you move forward to communicating effectively.

The next step is to be fearless. Don’t be afraid to talk to others and ask questions. Talk to people you normally wouldn’t, like people in other departments and different seniority levels. If you are an entry level employee, break the norm and go engage with a manager or executive. That is your opportunity to learn from them and grow in the company.

As described in an article on Fortune.com, breaking down these boundaries can help you secure nigh unlimited potential in the workplace. This potential will not only help you grow as an individual, but also as an unstoppable business professional.

4. Embrace change

Image credit: blogspot.com

Image credit: blogspot.com

Change can be a difficult concept to wrap your head around, especially because we often become comfortable in our abilities and current situation. However, it is important to remember that change is an important part of stimulating personal growth. To help embrace change, get rid of the negativity in your life, such as the self-doubt that takes over in uncomfortable situations. Develop the confidence to break down boundaries. Have the strength to actually listen to people. Be patient, honest and timely in providing feedback. With the help of these tips, you can set yourself on the path to becoming a great communicator.

 

Do you have any tips about communicating effectively with others? Share them in the comments below, and remember to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Internal Communication is just as important as External Communication

by Ambria Paul

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As public relations practitioners, our duties include keeping target audiences in mind—external and internal, but far too often, the importance of internal communication goes unacknowledged. A concept we need to embrace is that good internal communication is the driving force for organizational success externally. What is grounded within the organization defines the quality of what is communicated outward. PRWeek’s Julie Skidmore states, “Internal communications can be seen as the oil that keeps an organization working smoothly.” With the proper system of communication and participation, and climate, an organization thrives.

Two Factors That Negatively Affect Internal Relations

-Dented Upward and Downward Networks

Generally, within every organization there is a hierarchy. For example, in the workplace there are “technicians” and “managers.” According to Alan Jay Zaremba’s Organizational Communication, “communication within an organization is disseminated through an upward and downward network.” Upward relates to communication from technicians to management, and conversely for downward. If the technicians feel as though their ideas, opinions, or concerns are not valued by management, they will more likely feel unappreciated and might grow resentment toward the “top dogs.”

At the same time, if management does not personally engage with the technicians a wall will be created that separates the two. Building and maintaining healthy, interactive upward and downward networks within an organization is essential to productivity and equality. Company newsletters, surveys, opinion polls, and frequent emailing can provide a healthier system of communication within.

-Cold Climates

Jay Zaremba’s explains, “the climate is the atmosphere in the organization that either encourages or discourages communication.” A cold climate can resemble workers who are tired, cranky, nonchalant, or angry due to excess duties, hunger, feeling unappreciated by fellow employees or management, and confusion.

Creating a warm climate in an organization does not have to be hard. Aside from maintaining a healthy system of communication between employees, an environment less “frigid” can stem from the simple things. Providing snacks for employees and keeping the room’s temperature at a comfortable degree can cure physical distractions of productivity. Having monthly meetings for strictly concerns the employees may have, sending encouraging emails, and having “Employee of the Month” encourages productivity and gives employees a sense of value.

These tactics can have a huge impact on the climate of the organization, further creating more successful internal communication and relations. A good example of a company creating warm climate for employees can be seen with Killer Infographics, a leading visual communications agency. Employees are provided with a climbing wall and two kegerators with locally brewed beer to release stress in the workplace. Sounds like fun to me!

An organization can have every goal of serving the external public, but if it does not start first behind its walls, there will be no outward success. Internal communication is a must!

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