Category: Public Relations

How Public Relations Molded Me Into A Young Professional

By: Sebastian Szczurowski

When I look back at my time at the University of Central Missouri I can’t help but to think about how fast it all went by. It seems like it was just yesterday that I made my first official visit to the university for my scheduled orientation day. When I first made the decision to major in public relations I really didn’t know what to expect from it or what I would gain from it in the future. Ever since I first decided to pursue a college education I knew that I was either going to major in some business or marketing-related field because those two industries always piqued my interest. 

When I completed my two-year tenure in community college and was looking to transfer to a four -year university I received an email from UCM’s Harmon College of Business and Professional Studies advertising the public relations program. When I saw it I didn’t think much of it because my sights were set on becoming a marketing major and I had no prior interest in pursuing a degree in public relations. But, I decided to look more into it just out of pure curiosity. That’s when I discovered that the Harmon College was one of the most highly accredited business colleges in Missouri and I read nothing but good reviews about it from previous students who graduated from the college. That is when I decided to delve deeper into it and reach out to one of the public relations program’s leading professors. 

After exchanging a series of emails with them I wanted to travel to the university to do a campus tour and meet some of the public relations professors in person. After completing my general campus visit I met up with one of the heads of the public relations department and had a very productive conversation with them about what to expect from the program and the types of courses they offer for the major. Many of the classes sounded very interesting to me and I knew from that day on that I was fully committed to the public relations program.

Throughout my time as a student in this program I was able to learn the ins and outs of the public relations industry and was fortunate enough to have been taught by some of the most passionate and driven professors. I had the opportunity to learn many useful skills such as the proper ways to gather and conduct research and how to write strategic public relations plans in a professional manner. I was grateful to have had such supportive professors to help guide me through the program at my own pace and provide me with the necessary tools needed for me to succeed. 

With graduation fast approaching, I reminisce about all the knowledge I was able to gain about the industry and the amazing people with whom I had the opportunity to network.. Now, as I look ahead and begin applying for jobs after graduation, I feel more confident in myself and my abilities as a professional because of all the great mentors I encountered at UCM on my educational path. Majoring in public relations has allowed me to gain extensive knowledge and skill sets in communication, technical writing, organization, strategic writing and much more. I can now confidently say that I’m ready to take on whatever career comes my way and use the skills that I attained in a real-world setting.

Extra Extra, Read All About It: The Importance of Staying in the Now

By: Emily Schaper

Being a Part of the Table 

We’ve all been part of a conversation where we have no idea what is being talked about. It sets you apart from others and can become difficult to get to know more people. When it comes to global issues, reading the news or checking the media every day can set yourself a spot at the table.  Plus, if you know about what’s going on in the world, you can start up a conversation about almost anything. 

How to Get Started

There are so many amazing websites that will send the news to your email every morning. It doesn’t take any time at all to be up to date with what’s happening around you. All you do is enter in your address and the top stories for each day will be sent straight to you. Some beneficial websites include:

  1. theSkimm
  2. Need2Know
  3. The Daily Beast Cheat Sheet
  4. LinkedIn Pulse

Why It’s Important

The news is important for a number of reasons within society. Not only does it inform the public about events, but it connects everyone together. Plus, if you’re interested in Public Relations, the news should already be of importance to you. Continuing on, the media can be broken down locally, nationally, and internationally

  • Local: News from a local area helps advise people about activities that may have an impact on the community. Decisions can be determined and people can be brought together
  • National: When news becomes more of interest, it will have a broader perspective. This can become tricky because of the differing time zones. However, it can be of value to know the situations of other cities and towns
  • International: When it comes to the global economy, news from other countries becomes vastly important. It gives us a sense of other perspectives and lifestyles/cultural differences

Summary

As a Public Relations major, my professors would always tell the class, you never want to be the last to know about anything. If you’re not up to date about what’s happening around you, you probably need to find a new job or area of interest. If you ever want to lock in a seat at the C-Suite Table, you’ll need to define your role, show your ability to think strategically, elevate your game, and act like you belong there. All of these can be achieved by reading the news every single day and knowing what’s happening around you.

Sources

https://www.themuse.com/advice/7-awesome-ways-to-get-your-morning-news-fix

http://clearlyexplained.com/news/importance-of-news.html

https://talentculture.com/land-seat-c-suite-table/

How Do We Solve Mental Health in Public Relations?

By: Elizabeth Ewell

Mental Health Issues have become one of the leading common deaths in America. Mental health is often a topic that is shunned or embarrassing to discuss.  Some take mental health issues as a joke, and some are not afraid to speak out about the issue.  Still, there are more who pay no attention to mental health and do not take it as serious as it should be.  The respect level for those who are aware that they have a mental health issue is also low. 

I myself have struggled with my mental health this semester, which is not something I would have been comfortable sharing a year or so ago.  I often overwork myself and am, frankly, hard on myself. I am a go-getter, independent, and a perfectionist.  I have worked my way through college all four years, and at one point worked three jobs to sustain and reach goals I had set for myself.  I was involved in a lot of activities on campus and often spread myself too thin.  I felt as though that if I said no, I was hindering myself or missing out on great opportunities, when the truth was I did more than enough with what I could handle throughout my last four years.  I was blessed with opportunities of a lifetime, held high positions in organizations, and made lifetime connections with professionals and peers through the work I did on campus. 

However, I spread myself too thin again this semester, and have honestly found myself struggling to keep up with schoolwork and my actual job.  Personal issues have also caused tremendous stress on me, and I felt super overwhelmed. I got to a point where I needed a break, or I was going to have a mental breakdown.  I had not focused on myself and had not been properly taking care of my mental wellbeing.  I was mentally and physically exhausted.

Public Relations was listed as the sixth most stressful career in America according to Career Cast. 

In a recent article written by Paul Sutton, Five Solutions to Stress, Anxiety & Depression, in Public Relations 60% of PR professionals say they are ‘stressed’ or ‘very stressed’ at work.

‘Thirty percent (30%) of public relations professionals have also expressed that they are somewhat happy at work or not happy at work.’ (CareerCast) 

Why are so many unhappy in public relations? 

Glean info details that PR professionals are stressed because of “tight deadlines, unreasonable clients, a constantly changing media landscape, confrontational reporters and a cynical public. The challenge of proving the benefits of PR to clients and corporate managers can also cause anxiety.” 

Many also expect public relations to give an exact result, like advertising, which is not the case. The misunderstanding of public relations causes a lot of conflicts which causes stress. 

Public relations courses require a lot of critical thinking, focus, time, and research, to plan and execute work, just like a PR professional job.  If you do not follow these strategies to meet  deadlines, you will not be successful in PR.  Due to my mental health suffering, I was not doing any of those things, causing me to fall behind badly on my work.  Had I not been honest with my professor, it could have hindered my entire semester. 

How can we solve these issues?

Speak Up 

What if I had not spoken up?  I would have had many missed assignments in the grade book, a failing grade, or worse I would have failed the course which would’ve hindered me from graduating in the fall.  The first step is acceptance with ourselves and acknowledge that you may be suffering from some sort of mental issue.

Next, talk to your employer about your health, and be open and honest.  Your employer cannot fire you for expressing the stress you may have due to the job, or because you may not be mentally healthy at the moment.  You should express concern if you receive judgment on your mental state of mind.  Your well-being is not humorous and should be important to your employer.  Telling your truth to your employer will help you in the end. 

Ask for Help 

Seek help from a professional.  Sometimes your job might even compensate you for your visit. Professionals could teach you how to cope with working under pressure and minimizing stress for yourself with your job.  In the field of public relations, no day is the same and you often are thrown curveballs; knowing how to deal with stress is important to be happy in this career. 

Be Honest and Don’t be Afraid to Take Breaks

Again, be honest about your health, speak about your issues and take a break or vacation from work, if in dire need.  Taking breaks can bring peace to your life and help you think clearly. Many jobs will allow you to take a temporary leave of absence for a certain period of time. This break can give you the peace of mind you need to get back in action and start “killing it” in your career. 

Normalize Mental Health in the Workplace 

Employers should make sure mental health is an important topic to discuss openly with their employees. 

Today many employers bring in professionals on mental health and host workshops on the issue. Knowing your organization cares about the mental wellbeing of their staff can make it more comfortable for an employee to discuss their health to their employer.  If your organization does not openly discuss mental health, maybe suggest some of the ideas above to create awareness of the issue in your workplace. 

Say “No” 

Be okay with saying no to additional tasks because of stress.  If you cannot handle additional work, it’s better to not do the work than to do work wrong or not of good quality.  Instead, ask for smaller roles until you feel stable enough to handle your regular full workload. 

Public Relations is a demanding, but exhilarating job, so making sure you take care of your mental health is a major priority to be successful in this career.  Do not be afraid to use your voice, because your health matters!

Oh, the People You’ll Meet!

By: Maxlyn Wilbanks

When you first think of public relations, what do you think of? When I began my degree, I thought of all the negative aspects of PR and wasn’t sure it was the right choice for me. However, as I am about to graduate from UCM, I have realized how much my perspective on PR has changed. I now see the profession in a much more positive light and see how perfect this major was for me.

Want to know the reason I love PR so much? Well, I’d love to tell you: PEOPLE! I have met some of the nicest, most genuine people through my experiences in my PR program. Let me tell you about some of my favorites-
I recently interviewed sisters who are 98-years-old and 103-years-old during my internship with Western Missouri Medical Center. The older sister remembers the Spanish flu epidemic and told me about some of  her experiences during her prime in the 1930s and ‘40s. I got to take photographs of them while they received their COVID-19 vaccinations and each one took it like a champ! Click here to read the full story!

Helen (left) and Sammy (right) receiving the COVID-19 vaccine!

During my internship with the GenWhy Leaders Podcast, I had the opportunity to speak with several successful entrepreneurs. One of my favorites was a woman who decided to start a jewelry business after creating a pair of earrings to match an outfit. Now, her business is one of the Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Companies. Click here if you’d like to watch the full episode!

I have also enjoyed the people I’ve met while working for IPR. One of my clients created his own podcast and interviewed with the Director, Multicultural PR and Engagement at McDonald’s USA. I never thought I would have a connection with someone with such an impressive position at such a huge corporation. Click here to watch the full video on YouTube to hear about her great experiences. 

I am also a member and was on the board of PRSSA (Public Relations Student Society of America). Through PRSSA, I met someone who worked as the Public Relations and Social Media Director at Hallmark. He now does freelance work and owns his own communications company. 

Through all these great connections I have had the opportunity to apply to several jobs in preparation for graduation. I’ve been told, “resumes don’t get you jobs, connections do”. This is a statement I totally agree with and I’m lucky to have picked a degree that has allowed me to connect with so many great, successful people. 

Meeting people is one of the greatest pleasures I have had while pursuing my degree. I am so glad to have been able to learn from so many great entrepreneurs and hard workers who taught me valuable skills and life lessons. 

So if you are ever curious about what public relations truly is, it’s meeting amazing people and making great connections.

TikTok and The Race to Join Emerging Social Platforms

By: Faith Ford

TikTok, is a massively popular app that lets users create and share videos up to 60 seconds long. At least that’s the Dictionary.com definition of the content creation app that started to gain social media users’ attention around 2018. So how did TikTok get to where it is today? And what does it mean for the future of social media, especially in the public relations, marketing and advertising industries? 

History 

TikTok, described as one of the fastest-growing social media platforms of 2020 – and all time, began as an app that most people had recognized as Musical.y after an acquisition in 2017 by a Chinese company called ByteDance. Due to this merger of brands, the app specialized in dancing clips which led to viral trends of dance-offs, lip syncs, and extensive use of hashtag challenges. The app today has grown into a hotspot for influencer marketing and as a medium for brands to use when sharing their messaging. In just four years, the social media site has reached 150 countries, has 2 billion downloads, and 1 billion active monthly users. All this activity puts TikTok ahead of business favorites like Facebook and Instagram

Growing Hesitations 

While TikTok has shown its tremendous growth and strengths within its use as a marketing and communications hub for businesses, the app has faced crises that have jeopardized usage rates in the business world. The biggest issue facing the platform is privacy. 

Concerns about privacy have been under the lens of the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission and were even highlighted in a late summer move toward a possible nationwide ban on the social networking site, and other actions by individual businesses. 

In a July NBC news article, reporter Kevin Collier states that, “The bank Wells Fargo told its workers to delete the app. Amazon ramped up the scrutiny of TikTok on Friday after a leaked internal email said company employees needed to remove the app from their phones. Amazon later clarified that no such edict had actually been issued.” 

It seems hard to imagine that employee internal conflict with this app would reflect positively on the company, when the company starts to use it for its own purposes, as employees are a primary public to keep in mind.

However, the hesitations to use the app for public external messaging also becomes easier to understand. Why would a business invest in positions to research, analyze and create when there’s a possibility of the app being removed from your consumers? 

With regard to these concerns, it seems that TikTok has outgrown its “he who cannot be trusted” description, as more and more businesses join the viral experience. 

Considerations for Businesses 

Of course, businesses shouldn’t just join in on the site just for the numbers and its popularity. There has to be some reason for their use or else the messaging seems forced, is lost, and won’t reach their intended audience. This is where PR comes in. Remember: “What or how you do something is not as important as the WHY.” 

So what does this mean for companies wanting to use TikTok as a social media platform? 

Do your research. Know who your audience is and what they are looking for. If you are a Senior Living facility, for example, trying to reach 65-year-olds, TikTok is probably not the place to reach your primary audience. 

Be engaging. The whole point of social networking sites is to connect you with people. The ability to engage with your audience will give you a better idea of who they are, what they are looking for, and their personality. The extra effort of responding to comments, “dueting” challenges that have helped your brand, and being conversational with influencers is valuable for your brand on the platform. 

Be aware. Look for opportunities that seem organic and authentic for your company. Is there a trend that fits your new launch? Act on it! TikTok trends move quickly, so being aware of the app’s climate is important to being up-to-date and creating new and unique ideas. 

Other Emerging Social Sites 

TikTok grew – fast. It was important for businesses to be aware of its presence, even if they were choosing not to be as active on the platform as their employees. While there still may be reservations about the site, here are some social media sites that public relations, advertising, and marketing professionals should keep their eyes on:

Clubhouse 

Twitter Spaces 

Caffeine 

Instagram Reels

Houseparty 

Social media, including TikTok, can be a powerful tool for businesses wanting to reach their audience. However, if you are considering including it in your communication strategy, don’t forget to do your research, and most importantly, don’t forget to answer the “Why?” if you want to maximize its effectiveness. 

Sources: 

https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/new-social-media

https://revive.digital/blog/most-popular-social-media/

https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/security/tiktok-privacy-threat-sure-so-are-most-your-sma rtphone-apps-n1233625 

https://digitalmarketinginstitute.com/blog/the-rapid-rise-of-tiktok

Senior Scaries: Graduation and Where to Go Next

By: Hannah Staul

As I prepare for graduation, all I can think about is what the next step is. How do I know when I am even ready to apply for full-time jobs, when school is still in the forefront of my mind? I did the research for you, so follow along for a step-by-step guide, from the perspective of a busy college student. If I can do it, you can too! 

Step 1: Accept Failure 

You may have already accepted failure in some way, either failing a class or not getting into your dream college. Failure is something everyone faces, but knowing how to overcome it and learn from your failures will lead you to success. While applying for jobs or graduate programs know that not everyone will want you. You will be rejected. It sounds harsh but it is the truth, knowing how to manage it ahead of time will help you in the long run. The fear of rejection affects many people. Jia Jiang, author of Rejection Proof, provides a great example about his story of how he was able to accept “no” with confidence and turn them into a “yes”. 

I have had to overcome failure many times, it is recurring. There is something new you can fail at everyday, so take each day with a grain of salt knowing that failure will happen. Below are some tips to prepare yourself for failure: 

● Do not call it failure:

a. Thinking about the word “failure” it does not bring a good feeling. It brings back memories of past failures, a time where I was not able to accept it. Try using these words instead! 

i. Decline 

ii. Misstep 

iii. Loss 

iv. Flop 

v. Frustration 

vi. Setback 

● Be Realistic 

a. When applying for jobs do not go for the 100k salary position that requires 10 plus years of experience. Obviously, as a college graduate you would not have the skills or experience to accomplish that position. But don’t undershoot your skills, if you see an opportunity that you could potentially achieve, then go for it! 

● Everyone Fails! 

a. Michael Jordan’s story of success is one of the most influential examples of how he accepted his failure. Pretty much starting from the bottom as the draft three pick in 1984 he built himself up from there. Today he is a highly successful basketball player because he was able to accept failure. Be like Michael Jordan and accept that we all fail and find success after.

Step 2: Classes come first 

You read that right, classes come first. College is full of fun, but try to keep in mind that you came here to learn. I am guilty of letting other activities come before classes, and let me tell you, there is no success from that. Yes, applying for jobs is important, but make sure you are doing well in classes and staying on top of your work. Below are some tricks I have implemented: 

● Google Calendar: Keeps you organized with meetings and classes 

● Reminders! My best friend, I use this app on my iPhone to remind me when work is due that day. 

● Set goals: Accomplish the work you need to get done that day and then do the “other things.” 

● Ask for help: Let your professors know when you are struggling. 

These tips may seem redundant, or you might be a professional at getting your work done on time. Keep in mind that it can happen to the best students, especially when something new is added to your plate. 

Step 3: Build your portfolio 

Finally, some real steps for post graduation! Let’s review the type of portfolio needed for the public relations and related industries field. You will need to build an online portfolio, and some great websites to build from are Wix or GoDaddy. Digital portfolios can increase your chances of being seen by employers and represent your brand.

Your brand is the person you want to be seen by the professional world. Frame your portfolio around that person, the man or woman who is extremely professional and will benefit the company you are applying for. This is a professional website, so do not include going out photos or crazy stuff you did in college. 

What should be included in your portfolio? Here are some of my recommendations: ● Resume 

○ Downloadable version and a walkthrough of it 

● Unique website design 

○ Should include your brand personality: colors, fonts, professional logo ● Skill 

○ Include soft and hard skills 

● Works done by you 

○ Press releases, designs, blog posts, etc. 

● Short bio 

● Professional photos 

Think of your portfolio as an extension of yourself, and include the information you want people to see and know about you. Portfolios are great to share with potential employers, a place to keep your work organized and highlight what you have accomplished.

Put it all together! 

As February comes to a close, start to think about what needs to be done before graduation. Do you need a resume or cover letter? Have you applied for jobs or graduate school? Make the list that is important for you and will lead you to success. The steps above are meant to help guide you through the next couple months and feel prepared to graduate from college. 

Recourses: 

10 Healthy Ways to Cope With Failure 

What To Include in your Portfolio

Research is Boring, Time-Consuming and Absolutely Critical to Your Success

By: Ashleigh Horn

Research is the key to all successful public relations strategy. It is the defining factor in how we choose to tell our client’s story and helps us identify how our target audiences will react—long before they are ever exposed to any messaging.

But why is research crucial? How can it single-handedly define the effectiveness of our PR efforts? Isn’t research a little bit…old school?

No! Before I continue any further, I would like to emphasize that research is not old school. Call me a nerd for thinking it’s cool, but you actually need it to be successful in this industry. Here is why:

Beyond identifying an objective, research is the first step in defining what steps should be taken to solve a problem. A need may be increasing brand awareness, avoiding a crisis, or launching a campaign. The list is endless. However, used strategically, research can be conducted to meet needs, elevate your client’s brand and create lasting mutually beneficial relationships.

On the other hand, failure to conduct research may lead to indecision, inaction or financial loss. It may also make identifying key publics and their needs difficult. In many cases, actions taken without sufficient knowledge about who or what they will impact can even lead to tarnishing your brand’s overall image.

One brand whose reputation was tarnished because of its failure to conduct any research was Digorno. In 2014, the frozen pizza brand received major backlash for inappropriately using a trending Twitter hashtag to advertise its product.  The company’s Tweet, “#WhyIStayed You had pizza” was ill-received by Twitter users who were disgusted that the company would poke fun at domestic violence to encourage pizza sales. 

The company could have avoided the situation altogether by researching the nature of the hashtag before Tweeting. While research may frontload your efforts, it helps prevent mistakes later on. Doing so allows you to preserve your brand and may even save you money.

I will be the first to admit that research is not always sexy. In fact, anyone who has taken University of Central Missouri’s PR 3605: Survey of PR Research & Theory with Dr. Tricia Hansen-Horn knows that research can be tedious and seemingly mundane at times. However, it can also be exciting and provide key insights that will make decision making easier down the road.

Research allows us to strategically gauge information about our key publics. It helps us identify possible reactions and outcomes of our efforts and avoid unnecessary costs. It also equips us with the tools to measure the impact of our efforts from the get-go. At the end of the day, it takes out the guesswork and lays a solid foundation from which you can build—without fear of total failure.

You may be thinking, “Gee, that sounds great. However, I have no experience conducting research. I would never know where to begin.”

But you do!

May I ask if you have ever had a friend tell you that they have begun to develop feelings for someone? If you are like me, this small piece of information often triggers Sherlock-Holmes mode. Within the next hour you have scoured up a list of their hobbies, identified their grandmother’s name, and searched through all of the accounts they follow on Instagram.

Does this activity sound familiar? Don’t lie, I know you have done it too.

Curiosity is in our nature and whether we recognize it or not, we conduct research  every day. We care about our friend and use research to ensure that the one who has them so smitten is actually right for them.

But where should you start?

Certainly there are methods to help guide how we research. However, there is no set protocol for how it should be conducted, especially in PR as we deal with all things human. I advise formulating one single question and allowing your curiosity to fuel any questions and quests for answers that follow.

You may think research is boring. It’s not! It is a vital element in the daily life of a PR pro. Ask questions, find the answers, then ask more questions that lead you to solid strategy and valuable decision-making.

Staying Connected: How to Network Like a Pro

By : Emily Schaper

When it comes to opening new doors and opportunities, networking should be a top priority.  It’s not just about trading information, but establishing long-term relationships with mutual benefits.  Networking, however, may not be at the top of everyone’s to-do list.  People may find it time-consuming, awkward, or out of their comfort zone.  This can be understandable if you already have a lot on your plate and the last thing you want to do is make small talk with strangers.  Although, if you don’t take the time to prioritize networking throughout your career, you may miss out on some once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.

Now, you may be wondering how to become an effective networker.  Keep these tips in mind and you’ll be expanding your professional network in no time!

Find Your Networking Style

Now, you may be wondering how to become an effective networker.  First, you need to determine what style works best for you.  If you are energized by being around people, for example, you could network at a large social gathering instead of just one-on-one.  Be aware, however, Covid-19 may alter these plans.  Organizations are utilizing Zoom, so if you happen to enjoy engaging with others online, this could potentially help a lot.

Network Outside the Box

Second, don’t be afraid to network outside the box.  Think of events and organizations to attend that you otherwise wouldn’t consider.  Sometimes, being able to volunteer around people of similar interests is enough to advance your career.  It’ll show you really value helping others and have a passion to learn new skills/abilities.  

Do Your Research

Don’t forget to do your research before you connect with someone.  It’ll help the conversation flow better if there’s a base understanding of their interests, education, work history, and more.  Plus, it’ll show you genuinely care and respect the other person.  They’ll remember that about you later on.

Don’t Forget to Follow Up

Next, always follow up.  The time you invest in speaking with someone won’t benefit your personal and professional development if you fail to follow up afterward.  This can easily be done by utilizing social media platforms, such as LinkedIn.  Just sending short, personalized messages helps differentiate you from other individuals.  According to Deena Baikowitz, chief networking officer and co-founder of Fireball Network, “The worst networking mistake you can make is not trying at all.”  

Pass It On

Last, but certainly not least, don’t be afraid to pass it on.  If you have the opportunity to help someone who has taken time to reach out to you, act upon it.  Your referral has a lot of power and can help them land a job.  You were once in their shoes and what goes around comes around.

Utilizing these tips will set you apart from others in the long run.  Remember, if you’re not stepping out of your comfort zone, then you’re not growing.  Now’s the time to reach out and stay connected.

Resources

https://www.forbes.com/sites/biancamillercole/2019/03/20/why-networking-should-be-at-the-core-of-your-career/?sh=1c2d1e181300

https://www.michaelpage.com.au/advice/career-advice/career-progression/benefits-networking

https://www.topresume.com/career-advice/importance-of-networking-for-career-success

How COVID-19 is Causing Event Planning Evolution

By: April Wood

I hate to begin a blog post by talking about how COVID-19 has changed the communication industry, but to write a blog about “normal times” feels disingenuous. Public relations and other communication departments are rapidly adapting to communicating at a time of uncertainty and illness. A particularly challenging aspect of public relations during the pandemic has become apparent to me in the last few months: event planning. All of the relevant skills remain, and a new set of often unintuitive skills is becoming necessary for many event planners.  

As Important as Ever

  1. Writing and Design – The tone of writing you use and the style of design you implement depends on your audience. These are foundations of public relations. Writing and design will always be necessary skills in this field, even and especially in event planning. If you do not communicate your event and its intentions well, no one will participate. 
  2. Contingency Planning and Being Flexible – It is inevitable that something will go wrong the day of your event. Take time BEFORE the event to create a list of things that might possibly go awry and devise a contingency plan for each of them. If and when something doesn’t go as expected, you have a solid plan for how to handle it that can be tailored to fit the issue perfectly. A crisis that could spiral out of control is stopped with minimal damages. 
  3. Organization – Planning for a virtual event still requires careful organization using traditional event-planning measures. Guest lists need to be compiled, invitations sent out, registration organized, plans established and executed, and so much more. Do not assume that you can just hop in on a call and your event will go off without a hitch. That would be like assuming that if you give everyone a time and place to meet that the event will just happen naturally. “Planning” that way will only lead to disaster. 
  4. Event Scripting – I’ll admit that this one is more of a grey area. It is an old skill applied in a new way. Usually, you would have an itinerary in the program you hand out at the event that outlines the order of events, in addition to a more in-depth one that lays out the timeframe of each section of the event. When live video enters the mix, however, it gets a bit more complicated. Depending on the type of event,  you may want to play a number of videos, present a PowerPoint, and also have some live content. Your files need to be clearly named and ordered and a script should be developed to tell you exactly what order they are played and at what times. Delays in getting videos or presentations started will delay your whole event and throw off the schedule for the night. 

Skills of Emerging Necessity 

  1. An In-depth Knowledge of Your Broadcasting Program of Choice – The program you choose to host your meeting is a critical component of the event-planning process. It is like selecting your venue and support staff for an in-person event. Choose one that you are familiar with, has a good reputation, and is user-friendly. If you are not particularly adept at technology, take an online course on the program or try it out in advance to experiment and get comfortable with its use. Take the time to learn the program and host a dry-run with your fellow planners to locate any potential problems and resolve them before the event. 
  2. Troubleshooting – Be prepared to handle technical difficulties if they arise the day of the event. These problems will likely be both on the host’s side and on the virtual attendees’ side. This means doing research beforehand on possible technical issues and their solutions as well as having someone available on event day to monitor the chat, email, and social media pages for attendees who may report issues. They can only be swiftly resolved if they are swiftly identified. When it comes to event planning, today’s public relations professionals must  learn how to provide technical support in addition to their usual skills.

This is clearly not a comprehensive list – I’ll leave that for the academics -, but it serves to give you a realistic picture of what you can expect to undertake in order to get your event off the ground.