By Armani Shumpert
The impact that social media has had on the PR industry is clear. It created new opportunities and new challenges for brands. It allows brands and consumers to connect in real-time on severalplatforms. Today, PR practitioners are no longer able to escape this effect.
There are several ways that PR professionals use social media. I wanted to address some of the ways that social media has influenced the PR industry, and why all professional communicators need to get involved.
1. The 24/7 news cycle.
The advent of social media has resulted in a 24/7 news cycle. Brands can now share good content at any moment, and they know that everyone is listening and ready to respond. Social media platforms also provide an opportunity as part of an emergency response plan to allow notifications to be play-by-play as things go south. This offers the opportunity for PR practitioners to participate in the conversation in a way that makes them an active participant in brand communication.
However, the 24/7 news cycle can become a vortex as false content travels across social media channels, creating a PR crisis that makes healing, regeneration, and regulation more difficult.
2. Enhanced journalists’ access.
Another way that social media integrates with public relations is that it allows greater access to reporters than ever before. Having the opportunity to connect with journalists on different social media sites, PR practitioners can learn the tone of voice of a writer, perspectives on specific subjects, and recent research.
Resources such as Muck Rack will help you find publications and journalists that suit your needs and connect to their latest social media tweets and profiles right away.
Caution: While social media can be a wonderful way for journalists to study and communicate, it is not in your best interest to tweet or steer your pitch message directly to a writer unless their profile specifically says it does.
3. Control of real-time crisis.
Public relations professionals also can put an end to online crises that could potentially lead to a negative brand reputation. Social networking channels allow PR professionals to respond to situations and/or interactions with the audience in real-time. This has been very beneficial as it now enables PR teams to take advantage of social media to resolve problems and preserve the brand’s positive online image.
PR professionals must be able to use this complicated but amazing tool which is social media to be successful. In the public relations market, social media is no longer a secondary thought — it is an integral part of the industry.
By: Emma Honn
As a senior in the public relations program at the University of Central Missouri, I am often asked “What is public relations?” I get the question at family functions, social gatherings and different events around campus. Sometimes, I get tired of the question and think to myself “How do they not understand?” I have realized that people do not know what public relations is because PR professionals have been doing PR for their clients, and not for the profession itself.
Public Relations Society of America defines public relations as “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” To a public relations professional, this makes sense. However, to someone who knows nothing about the industry, it may not. Here are a few things you need to know about public relations.
We are strategic storytellers. We use narrative to build our brand and relationships with our intended audiences. It can be through social media, brand specific communications or the media. We tend to try and humanize a brand, meaning we add a human element to a story or brand to help our audiences relate. For example, instead of saying “buy this product,” we say, “this is important because…” We do this to build trust between our company and our audiences.
We work with the media. Read that correctly: we are not the media, we work with the media. The goal here is to earn media placements. We build a story with a human element, and earn media coverage on the subject. This gets our brand in front of our audiences for something that may not necessarily be our products. Although there is no guarantee of media placement, when we do earn a spot, there is a third party validation of our brand, our products and our story.
We write press releases and speeches, and plan and execute events. A press release is typically written by a public relations professional with the goal of it being picked up by a media outlet. These, however, are written with much thought, newsworthiness and human element. If you are ever listening to a speech, chances are, the script was written by a public relations professional. The basis of speech writing is solid writing skills. PR professionals have an eye for detail and design, two things that are essential to a great speech. Public Relations departments typically handle the planning and execution of events meant for public outreach and media relations. If you are ever at a large event, it was probably handled by someone who works in PR.
We manage social media and handle crises whenever they arise. Social media is a tricky subject. Since it is a relatively new thing in public relations, we have had to learn how to adapt and work with ever-changing platforms. We handle crises that may come up for organizations. For example, think of Volkswagen’s emissions scandal. Every statement given by VW, press conference held, you name it, was planned and handled by a PR team. Crises can range in severity, but whatever the crisis may be, a solid PR professional can handle it.
We are strategic storytellers, work with the media, write press releases and speeches, plan and execute events manage social media and handle crises. These topics are all under the public relations umbrella, but this just scratches the surface. Now, the next time someone says “I work in public relations,” or “I am a public relations major,” you will know a little bit about what they do.
Authenticity is first and foremost, one of the most important practices a public relations professional should be undertaking. Publics have proven that their trust in the media and online information is at an all-time low, so having to weave through press releases and information coming from specific companies themselves is a daunting task in and of itself when one already feels as though a strong bias is present. It is important to be sincere in your messaging and ensure your information is both credible and with no ill intent. It is a good idea to always present sources, data, and strategies behind a statement you are making to ensure the reader is able to check if your statement is valid.
2.) Utilize Social Media
Social media is arguably one of the most important elements a business can have. It allows a company to have a voice and write their own story instead of allowing others to write one for them. One bad Yelp review can spiral into a large mess for any business if they are not there to give background a mediate the situation. For example, if a local= sushi restaurant relies on word of mouth consumers and one customer feels as though they have a negative experience and decide to put a review online, that may be the first thing anyone sees when they look up “nearest sushi restaurant” on their phone. People are likely to not go somewhere with a bad review and no way to see good reviews or see that everyone else in the area loves to eat there. If this business had a personal website, that would likely be the first thing to pop up in a google search and could allow you to have a voice in sharing positive testimonials and photos capturing happiness of customers. This could make or break new customers visiting your location. Social media also allows others to interact with your business in personal ways and spread the word. A good example of a business using social media to help their brand is Wendy’s. (http://twitter.com/wendys ) They are able to perfectly advertise their menu items and deals, while also providing a comical element that many young adults and teenagers engage with.
3.) Video Content
Video content is said to be one of the most important elements of utilizing your company’s online footprint. People are more likely than ever to engage with creative videos rather than reading articles or releases or any other form of written content. It allows users to stay engaged and interested rather than be distracted or overwhelmed, and when used correctly, could allow you to impact a large audience. For some great ideas on how to better utilize video content, refer to this article https://www.singlegrain.com/video-marketing/10-useful-types-of-video- content-viewers love/ .
4.) Humanize Your Brand
Consumers do not want to feel as though their favorite brand is ran by robots. Try to avoid sounding canned or emotionless when producing content for the public to see. Use emotion, provoke thought, allow empathy to be a frontrunning emotion in your mind when speaking to the public. Nike is an example of a brand that does this extremely well. Whether or not one agrees with their stances or messaging, it is inarguable to state that no matter what emotion it is, you are feeling something after one of their campaigns is ran. There are ways to do this without eliciting controversy, but keep in mind that people want to WANT to connect to you. They must feel as though there is a two-way communication rather than simply a computer speaking to them.
By Shelby Bueneman
Podcasts have become increasingly popular. You can listen to them on Spotify, on the app itself and on Apple music. With such a wide variety of podcasts it can be difficult to find the right one that will benefit you. For public relations professionals there are five basic podcasts to listen to that will help them grow their skills and their business. Listening to these podcasts will help them stay on top of trends, revamp their creativity, find ways to be a better leader, keep up with the actual PR industry and benefit from writing tips.
Stay on Top of Trends
Public relations professionals need to keep up to date on what is trending within their business area, nationwide, and globally. Keeping up with different trends allows PR professionals to see how their target audiences are affected and how they react to the trends. They can use this to their advantage to reach their publics more efficiently. For news podcasts I ,recommend NPR News Now by NPR and Global News Podcast by BBC. Both of these podcasts are updated daily and are fact based with some occasional humor.
Having a creative mind is important for PR professionals. It’s how campaigns and other communication strategies are created. PR professionals should keep their mind flowing with these different podcasts. The Accidental Creative by Todd Henry is a great podcast that showcases different speakers, artists and thought leaders. In this podcast Henry points out different ways to be happy, healthy, and creative, not only at work but in life.
Find Ways to be a Better Leader
I previously attended a conference where it was noted that leadership does not only come from those with higher up positions. Leaders are found throughout the whole company. This sentiment is shared through different podcasts such as Leadership and Loyalty by Dov Baron and This Is Your Life by Michael Hyatt. Baron talks about leadership by using honesty and emotional intelligence. This provides a more insightful way to connect with those you oversee or those with whom you work closely. Hyatt’s podcast is more about helping those with fast-paced lives lead with confidence.
Keeping up with the PR industry
While it is important to stay on top of current trends, it is also important to stay on top of what is currently happening in the PR world. With so many new ways to keep track of everything it is helpful to have much of you need to know wrapped up in an episode. You can follow The Spin Sucks Podcast by Gini Dietrich and Inside PR podcasts to keep up with the PR world. Both of these podcasts follow the inner workings of the PR world and talk about current trends within it.
PR professionals are constantly writing and there is always room for improvement. While professionals usually use AP style, these podcasts can provide a bit more of a fresh narrative. Check out Writing Tips by Brian M. Taylor and Copy that Pops by Laura Peterson, M.A.E.D. for inspiration. Both of these podcasts has some humor to them so you won’t snooze on your way to the office.
With the PR world always changing, listening to podcasts is one of the easiest ways to stay in touch. They are great to listen to on your commute to work or even when you are unwinding from a long day in the office. Happy listening!
By: Sarah Arnett
Searching for a job can be overwhelming, no matter what stage of your career you are in.
“Where do I start? Do I have what it takes to find a good job? How can I set myself up for success? How am I supposed to find a job if I am not sure what I want to do?”
If you’re anything like me, you may have asked yourself these questions. Thankfully, there are many experienced professionals who are happy to share tips and tricks with you. Whether you are entering the job market for the first time or considering changing career paths, there are a few steps you can take to set yourself up for success.
First, know your why. As a public relations professional, you have probably heard this phrase a hundred times. It may seem cliche, but it is important to understand why you are in the public relations field. It may be because you are a talented writer, a big thinker, passionate about helping others, or a variety of other reasons. No matter what it is, it is important to establish your personal why to figure out what motivates you to succeed. Knowing this will allow you to continue to grow personally and professionally. At the end of the day, you are your most important client.
Once you have established your why, it is important to find a company that is a good fit for you. While a job is a job, it is a great benefit to work for a company that you enjoy. Research companies and learn about their values and corporate culture. It is important that a company is a good fit for you on both a professional and personal level, and if you’re the right fit for them.
Another important step after establishing your why is to take a leap. No matter the size of your professional network, ask those you have connections with about potential opportunities. They may not have a position open within their organization, but more often than not, they will pass on your information to other professionals. Not only does this expand your network, but you might be presented with an opportunity you did not know about. In the past year searching for internships and full-time positions, I have learned that you will never know if you do not ask! The worst thing that can happen is someone will say “no”.
While I have learned countless things during my time in college, I have discovered that everything works out in time. No matter what stage you are at in your education and career, the things happening right now will all work out in the end and it will be okay, if you work hard, stay
focused and maintain a positive attitude. While it may be hard to believe at this time, you will realize it is true ten years from now as you reflect on the past.
As you search for jobs, keep these tips in mind. If you become overwhelmed, remember your why and continue to work hard. A positive attitude and strong work ethic will help you succeed in the job market, no matter what challenge you face.
By: Myah Duncan
“Your personal brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” -Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon
Actively branding yourself via social media can go a lot further than a resume and cover letter when it comes to getting a first internship or job. It can also keep you from getting that internship or job. Employers never hesitate to do a quick Google search to see how a potential employee represents him/herself online, in fact, according to CareerBuilder, more than 70% of employers check a candidate’s social media content BEFORE deciding to hire. So ask yourself, do you want what you are posting to be seen by a potential employer? Do you think you’d get that internship you want so badly? As a college student, this is the best time to clean up your social media and build your online personal brand in a way that benefits you.
It is easy to get caught up in the moment and post every picture that you take to your social media accounts. But do you really want your future employer to see the wild time you had when drinking last Thursday night on Pine Street? You don’t want them to see it just as much as they don’t want to see it. They want to make sure you know how to act professionally when in public. So, the first lesson is, don’t post that picture. But if you have, this is the perfect time to start going through all those photos on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter that may not shine that professional light. Delete them from your social channels, but you can keep them if you save them on your laptop, make a scrapbook, or do whatever feels right. But do not leave them on there for the world to see. Oh, and don’t forget to ask friends to delete questionable images of you from their own feeds. It’s time to draw that line between personal and professional life. You can still post fun experiences, but you have to make sure it’s strategically fun content.
The content that you put out on your social media accounts does not necessarily have to be all about business and links to different articles. It is still important to be yourself via your own channels; it’s like a portfolio of who you are. First, focus on your grammar and spelling. This is an easy way to represent your writing ability. It’s a huge red flag if all of your posts have many errors in them. Take time to read through your posts and delete or edit those posts that do have errors. Second, carefully evaluate the images you want to post. Ask, what do they say to others about my professionalism? My choices? My values?
Leaving the lasting impression
Just like after meeting a professional in person, those who engage with you via social media want to remember who you are and have a solid impression of the type of person you are. You want your social media to leave a positive lasting impression on a professional who views it. Actively cleaning and crafting now will help you leave a good impression.
By putting the time and effort into your social media you are giving professionals or anyone who views your page a well-rounded peek into your life. Don’t let inappropriate social media end your chances of landing the job.
Salm, L. (n.d.). 70% of employers are snooping candidates’ social media profiles. Retrieved October 4, 2019, from https://www.careerbuilder.com/advice/social-media-survey-2017.
Tips for Building Your Personal Brand. (2019, June 14). Retrieved from https://www.northeastern.edu/graduate/blog/tips-for-building-your-personal-brand/.
By: Shelby Bueneman
This summer I was fortunate enough to get an inside look into the life of a blogging influencer. Getting a behind-the-scenes look into how the blog runs, different events that the blogger is invited to, and the creation of pieces after event attendance was eye opening. Influencers are on the rise and they can be beneficial to public relations professionals through their outreach, honesty, trust and mutual benefits that exist between blogger and clients.
Influencers can have a big outreach or a small one. The influencer you choose depends on what audience you want to reach. The blogger I worked for had a small outreach, with followings of one thousand or less. Based in Kansas City, she had a strategic way of connecting personally with audiences. Her posts and blogs were pointed toward the interests of those who were from Kansas City and those who wanted to visit. Because she intentionally solicited a smaller outreach, she could make posts and promotions seem more personable and real. She talked about things her audiences knew about or had experienced themselves. She had a lot of clients and they all wanted to reach Kansas City folks. So, it’s clear that to reach your exact target audience you need to find the right influencer. There are many different bloggers ranging from lifestyle, entertainment, fashion, DIY’s, and so many more. Once you find the right one, it is as simple as reaching out to them with the right pitch. They are always looking for their next blog and more events to attend.
One thing that I found stimulating was that influencers want to be honest with their audiences. As a consumer it’s easy to think that they are only saying a product works or that an event was great because of the deal they have. That is not the case. Just like public relations professionals, they are looking to gain trust with their audiences. The amount of research they put into their blogs to make sure they have all the relevant facts is notable. Honesty is one of their main concerns; if they are dishonest with their audiences, they lose their credibility. Credibility gets and keeps clients. This leads into the third benefit, trust.
Honesty and trust are intertwined. Without honesty there can be no trust. Influencers that are labeled as the everyday person are seen as the most trustworthy in the consumer’s eyes. Business 2 Community talks about how over ninety percent of consumers trust people within their network. Generally, the larger a blogger’s reach, the more celebrity status that influencer holds. If you choose a mainstream celebrity as your influencer, your product or event may not be perceived as authentic because it’s most likely that money changed hands. When you choose an influencer with a smaller outreach, you find the audience that has the most trust. This benefits your brand through the relatability to influencer holds with audiences. Working with the correct influencer can help your brand to stand out against the competition.
Partnering with a blogger is mutually beneficial. By promoting for a public relations professional, the influencer is creating more content and catching the eye of more consumers. This can generate more engagement for both the influencer and the professional. Working with an influencer as a company allows you to be seen in a more positive light and gives you more organic engagement with potential customers.
By: Sydney Halas
In college, time seems to fly quickly. One moment you are moving into a dormitory room for the first time, and the next, you are a senior, hopefully, well-prepared to embark on your professional career. Like many students, I was lost as a freshman. I entered school with an undecided major and no specific direction. After taking a class where I had the opportunity to explore many majors, I found myself considering either a degree in public relations or speech pathology. In several hours of discussions with my academic advisor, we decided a career in public relations would be more fulfilling for me.
My first class in the public relations program was taught by Professor Tricia Hansen Horn, and she wasted no time emphasizing the importance of networking. Being a first year student, I didn’t understand the importance behind her message. I wasted more than two years doing absolutely nothing to connect with public relations professionals. I sat through presentations by guest speakers in classes and conferences hardly paying attention to the speakers’ names. My grades have always been incredibly important to me but taking the extra step to connect with professionals who could offer me future opportunities did not register with me.
Finally, a few months into my junior year, something clicked. I needed an internship. I knew I had a better chance at securing one if I made connections before applying. I began taking extra steps after listening to a guest speaker. I would go up to a speaker after he or she spoke and shake their hand and introduce myself. I would connect with them on LinkedIn, and in some cases, send them a message about what I learned or extra questions I thought about later. They often responded. Networking enabled me to get a summer internship at Worlds of Fun through an employee who reached out to me. Had I not learned about the value of networking, I may have failed to check LinkedIn, and I likely would have missed the opportunity.
Another incredible networking opportunity was presented to me earlier this year. I was discussing my plans as a future public relations professional with my best friend from back home, and she gave me the name of a young woman who might be of interest to me. I connected with her online, and we made plans to get coffee in Kansas City. As a gesture of good will, I offered to buy her coffee, just like Professor Hansen-Horn had always instructed us to do. And, as Professor Hansen-Horn predicted, she instead bought mine. I followed up the day after the meeting with a hand-written thank-you note. Now, she is personally helping me tailor my resume to apply for an internship with her public relations firm, which is one of the largest in the world. I would have never had this incredible opportunity if I was not brave enough to make the first move and capitalize on this valuable opportunity to meet a professional in my chosen field.
I hope that any college student who reads this learns from my mistakes. Networking is an incredibly valuable skill for any student and young professional, not just those who plan to work in public relations. You never know who might offer you your next internship, job or phenomenal career. Never let your laziness, or fear, or whatever it may be, stop you from reaching out to a professional in your field. Remember, the worst they can do is say “no.” What’s the best thing they can do? Well, you will never know until you reach out!
By: Sarah Arnett
When I entered college, I did not know what I wanted to major in. While I knew I wanted to make a difference, I continued to explore and research, eventually landing in Dr. Tricia Hansen-Horn’s office to discuss public relations. However, I was unsure how public relations made a difference in the world around me. As I begin my senior year, I have a set of tools in my back pocket, ready to utilize and make a difference.
Networking is crucial to public relations. To be a successful professional, it is important to make connections whenever the opportunity presents itself. Whether it be at a professional event or at the local Starbucks, never pass up the opportunity to make a connection with somebody. You never know, they may be your next partner on a groundbreaking campaign!
– Social Media
Gone are the days of reading the morning newspaper. Instead, you can catch people scrolling through Twitter and checking their email first thing in the morning. A strategic public relations professional knows that social media is a powerful tool to share messages and appeal to human interest.
– Team Work
As much as some hate group work, there is no denying that the best ideas come from the culmination of several ideas. When used effectively, group work sparks creativity and inspires great ideas. These ideas are the ones that motivate audience members to take action, making a lasting impact.
– Setting SMART Goals
If you want to change the world through public relations, big goals are to be expected. However, it is important to make those goals SMART. A goal must be strategic, with sound reasoning and research backing it up. It must also be measurable, to ensure that it is results driven and justifiable use of resources. A goal must also be attainable and realistic, as there is no point in setting a goal that has no chance of being accomplished. A goal must also be time-bound to ensure that resources are being used efficiently and team members are focused on providing results. By setting SMART goals, public relations professionals have a strong plan in place to change the world.
– Finding Your Passion
At the end of the day, the biggest results will come from efforts you are passionate about. There will be projects that you work on that don’t set your soul on fire, and that is okay. But the best ideas and results come from working on things that set your soul on fire. Whether that is grounding breaking technology or a new brand of coffee, the best results are those that you are proud of and feel that you made a difference with.
By combining these skills, as well as many others, public relations professionals are able to provide results that make an impact on the world one message at a time. I’m excited to put them to use in my future career as a public relations professional!