By Morgan Berk
The surprising success of Hugh Jackman’s performance in “The Greatest Showman” has brought the name Phineas Taylor Barnum back into the forefront of people’s minds. This seems like the perfect time to reflect on Barnum’s unique publicity methods and how they paved the way for some of the public relations methods we still use today.
America’s Greatest Showman was not a perfect man by any means, but his impact on the age of publicity and press agentry has left a lasting mark on public relations and advertising. A lot can be learned from Barnum and his illustrious career.
Today we know that many of the advertising and publicity tactics used by the self-proclaimed “Prince of Humbugs” were unethical at best. However, while still acknowledging Barnum’s role in the exploitation of marginalized people, it is also important to remember the good and useful things that are part of his legacy.
Advertising existed long before Barnum’s time, but he managed to usher in an era of publicity that took advertising to a whole new level. The following are four advertising or promotion methods we still see today that were brought into the spotlight by P.T. Barnum more than a century ago:
- The Pseudo-Event
Pseudo-events, also known as media events, are well planned events orchestrated for the purpose of generating publicity and media attention. These events didn’t earn their name until the term was coined by Daniel Boorstin in 1961. They existed long before P.T. Barnum, but he brought them into prominence with his loud and unapologetic brand of publicity. The “freak shows” that Barnum was most known for are a prime example of pseudo-events, as they existed for no other purpose than to draw in a crowd and stir controversy on the streets and in the newspapers.Today we see a variety of pseudo-events, ranging from press conferences, to award shows and reality TV, all events that exist purely to create news.
- Museum Advertising
To promote his American Museum, Barnum displayed oversized banners on the side of the building to announce new attractions in the museum. This is a tactic that we still see today at major museums such as the Smithsonian.
- Concert Promotion
Lesser known than his circus expertise is Barnum’s foray into the arts. In August 1850, he brought the “Swedish Nightingale” to the United States. The opera singer Jenny Lind was wildly successful in Europe, but virtually unknown in America at that time. Without even hearing her sing, Barnum invited Lind to perform on a tour across America and proceeded to generate incredible amounts of hype surrounding her arrival. Thirty thousand people were there to greet her as she arrived in New York Harbor and her tour went on to net more than a half-million dollars, impressive numbers for 1850. Much of Lind’s success should be attributed to her talent and personality, but credit for the excitement generated before her arrival can be given to Barnum, who began publicizing the tour more than six months in advance.
Live music continues to thrive in today’s society, with fans flocking to their favorite musicians’ tours in the thousands. Tickets to see major artists, including Adele, Elton John, Beyonce and Taylor Swift, sell out in mere seconds thanks to the skill of those who promote the tours, many of whom use some of the same tactics that Barnum used to make Jenny Lind a global sensation.
- Vehicle Advertising
The first actual vehicle wrap advertisement was most likely created for Pepsi Co. in 1993 to promote its Crystal Pepsi product. However, advertising on the sides of vehicles is an idea that originated in the age of P.T. Barnum. Barnum would send horse-drawn wagons through New York City that were plastered with posters and signs advertising his American Museum. Walk or drive around today, and you’re likely going to see countless buses, 18-wheelers and other commercial vehicles plastered with various advertisements.
When looking back at and discussing historical figures, it is important to remember that people are neither entirely good or bad, or entirely ethical or unethical. Both may exist in the same individual, and neither should be erased. So when the topic of P.T. Barnum next comes up, his shortcomings should indeed be addressed in full measure, but his many contributions to public relations and advertising should be remembered as well. Barnum’s life has left a lasting mark on public relations and advertising, one that is certain to endure much further into the future.
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 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:
- Let people know of your support.
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.
- Try to connect your audience with ways they can help.
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.
- Focus on the communities affected first.
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.
- PR Haul Videos
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.
- Trying products sent from companies in a video
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.
- First Impressions, Favorites and Haul Videos
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
- Pay attention
- Break out of your comfort zone
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 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.
By Elizabeth Fisher
Some of the most famous tweets were shared by celebrities including Ellen DeGeneres and President Barack Obama, however, a teenager from Reno, Nev., may surpass all previous retweet records. Wendy’s, “Yo @Wendys how many retweets for a year of free chicken nuggets?” Carter Wilkerson, with one simple tweet, begged Wendy’s to supply him free chicken nuggets for one year. Soon, he may exceed the highest number of retweets ever recorded.
Wendys response was simple, “18 Million.” Now, clearly Wendy’s was joking, however, one simple joke has spawned a firestorm of engagement for both Wilkerson and Wendy’s. The most retweeted tweet in the history was created by Ellen DeGeneres, which has about 3.3 million retweets. This makes 18 million from a 16-year-old in Reno, Nev., sound impossible, but the power of social media may prove otherwise.
Carter took a screenshot of his interaction with Wendy’s and posted it to Twitter with the caption, “HELP ME PLEASE. A MAN NEEDS HIS NUGGS.” This tweet now stands at 2.6 million retweets and continues to climb. Wilkerson hopes that this number will continue to rise so he can receive free chicken nuggets for a year. He is now known as the “chicken nugget man” at his high school, according to ABC News.
This is a great example about how customer loyalty could create a social media buzz. If Wendy’s had not responded to Wilkerson, there would have been no attention brought to the tweet or Wendy’s. Because Wendy’s tweeted back to Wilkerson, they brought attention to their restaurant and social media.
Personification has become popular for businesses on Twitter. People do not want to tweet to companies who give all customers the same response or no response at all. By creating a personality for your Twitter, people feel like they are actually talking to a real person instead of just a machine. This, in turn, creates strong customer loyalty. Wendy’s did a great job in showing that they were listening to Carter and gave him a unique response.
By: Hali Mieser
Public relations has always been and will always be about content development and management, but with the fast evolving social media trend, PR must “keep up with the times.” Past PR professionals have taught us to curate creative and strategic stories for clients along with teaching us to measure media coverage. But the PR field has changed. As the lines between advertising, marketing and public relations begin to blur, PR professionals have to learn to navigate these new waters.
The first trend to look out for is specialized experts. In today’s Internet-based world, it is easier (and cheaper) to assemble a group of experts per project basis, instead of keeping the mental processes all beneath the same roof. Sure, it will take more effort from the agency end but the future of PR looks like partnerships between experts.
The next trend is the content train. Agencies used to simply hand over their public relations, marketing and advertising, sit back and approve whatever need be. Today, in order for work to get done smarter, faster and cheaper, promotion and advertising requires participation from the client. Simply put, your client knows the material and you don’t. But what you do know is what kind of content spreads, how to create it, market it and measure it.
You can outsource a lot of duties but outsourcing relationships is a resounding mistake. The client must be involved in forming trustworthy relationships. This means delegating time each day to communicate with the agency’s clients, hence the SOCIAL aspect of social media. Sure, the agency could outsource the building of relationships, but this could be the downfall of the agency. It could go one of three ways: the trustworthiness of the relationship would be a lie, the agency would be posting irrelevant content that is not reaching the clients but rather shouting into the void which in return is getting no interaction or the client could lose any and all of the human aspect which is imperative to forming meaningful relationships.
The last trend to consider is respect of the blogger. Traditional media and advertising is not dead, but it is important to remember the different online opportunities. Building relationships with bloggers is imperative because not only is the advertising cost-effective, it also targets and even narrows down the target audience to whom you are looking for with more precision. Getting creative with other bloggers is a strategic and engaging move; ideas could include guest posts on each other sites or reviews.
Public relations professionals have come a long way. Just years ago the only form of media relations tools was the telephone. Today, there are many more options. But with so many options, our voices could get overpowered, therefore, it is essential to watch out for future trends in the PR world.
By Elizabeth Fisher
Building audience engagement on social media is an important goal for many organizations. Audience engagement can help you form closer relationships to your consumers and followers. Below are some helpful hints to building your organization’s audience engagement.
- Include a Photo
According to socialmediaexaminer.com, simply by including a photo in your tweet the amount of retweets can increase by 35%. Almost 75% of content on Facebook includes a photo, if your Facebook and other social media posts do not incorporate photography they could be passed up on follower’s timelines.
- Show Your Personality
By featuring humor or an emotional appeal and applying your specific brand to posts, you can create stronger audience engagement.
- Use Innovative Ideas to Drive Your Posts
Your social media posts should be unique and differ from your competitor’s content. It is important to keep up with trends, but use these trends in your own creative way. You also want to be sure that you are not repeating yourself too often or users could become bored of your content. Launching new social media campaigns annually can help keep your social media from becoming “stale”, Coca Cola’s #shareacoke campaign is a great example. People were able to find their name and post it to social media, which caused audience engagement.
- Know Your Target Audience
Knowing your target audience is the simplest way to reach your followers. You may want to consider the type of content you are posting and even the time of day that your target audience is more likely to be on social media. Track when you are receiving the most engagement and base your future posts off similar content and time of day.
- Know the Right Platforms for Your Audience
Some audiences are particular with which social media platforms they use. Know what platforms your target audience is on and focus content to those platforms.
- Encourage Engagement
Look for ways to encourage audience engagement through your social media. For example, ask them to “comment for a chance to win a free T-shirt.” You could even encourage people to share their experience, for example, “now that you have heard Becky’s story, share your own and tag us.” Users like to talk about themselves on social media, this would give them the opportunity to do so.
- Engage back with Followers
By replying to users it builds a relationship, especially when each repose is unique. Do not avoid negative comments, this will only make users angry. Send users to a customer support site or customer service number as well as apologize for whatever inconvenience they are having.
- What’s Interesting Today?
Social Media trends move very quickly. It is important to stay on top of these trends and find ways to incorporate them within your own social media. When the Hollywood sign was changed, for example, Denny’s restaurants put their own spin on the controversy.
- Videos and GIFs Grab Followers Attention
Videos can be compelling to viewers, but they can also loose interest quickly. Keep videos reduced to about two minutes. An exciting caption and introduction to the video will captivate the audience’s attention. GIFs have become popular because they are so quick for followers to watch and will add personality to your posts.
- Share Followers Content that Relates
The greatest way to form relationships with followers is by sharing the content that they post that pertains to your organization. This will make users excited about your content and as it makes it more personal and relatable.