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.
By Cole Braun
As you go through your Facebook news feeds, there is sure to be headlines for a variety of topics. Many of them are hilarious, or maybe even scary. But you, the public relations professional, know better than to believe everything. But what about your clients you represent, or your own family? Do they know how to differentiate what is based on fact and what is made up for the sake of increasing click-through reports? You can help them with this guide to addressing fake news and how a professional should deal with it.
The first thing to understand is that PR professionals have no business adding fuel to the fake news fire. We all know it has become a problem which is why we must take a stand against it. The Public Relations Society of America addressed fake news with an official statement in January, 2017 saying that, “Truth is the foundation of all effective communications. By being truthful, we build and maintain trust with the media and our customers, clients and employees. As professional communicators, we take very seriously our responsibility to communicate with honesty and accuracy.”
PRSA & The Code of Ethics
If you are familiar with PRSA, or the student organization, PRSSA, you know this organization established a code of ethics that members take seriously. The official statement on alternative facts, reflects on the organization’s code of honesty, saying that members, “adhere to the highest standards of accuracy and truth in advancing the interests of those we represent and in communicating with the public.” If you wish to know more about the PRSA Code of Ethics, please follow here.
The PRSA Statement on “Alternative Facts” was released in January by the organization’s Chair of the Society for 2017, Jane Dvorak, APR and Fellow PRSA. After addressing how the society values its Code of Ethics, she finished by saying, “PRSA strongly objects to any effort to deliberately misrepresent information. Honest, ethical professionals never spin, mislead or alter facts. We applaud our colleagues and professional journalists who work hard to find and report the truth.”
One of the first things we as professionals must do is research. When dealing with information, we must ask, ‘Where did this come from?’ ‘Where does this link back to and who said what?’ You never jump into strange waters without a life preserver, or in this case, the facts.
A Rule of Three
Check your story three times before you take it seriously and hit the share button. You need to see how many people are saying the same thing and, if it is coming from a credible source. If the topic is breaking news, more than one publication will be telling the story.
CNN Correspondent, Brian Stelter said in his report, The plague of fake news is getting worse — here’s how to protect yourself, from October 2016, that there are three general categories related to misleading online information sites.
- Hoax Sites: completely fake
- Hyper-Partisan Sites: Some truth involved but stretched for the sake of the parties involved.
- Hybrid Sites: A mix of fake and fact combined to make a good story.
Whatever their purpose, these sites are not going away anytime soon, so learn to recognize them. Here are some tips found in the same article from CNN, shared by the Sunlight Foundation’s Alex Howard in a tweet:
- Search the source link on Twitter
- Google it
- Check Snopes
- Consider record of source
These are all excellent tips, and you can take it a step further with a Google search of the author’s name to see if they are credible as a reporter.
Open the Floodgates of Positivity
When it comes to combating the fake news epidemic, there are multiple recommendations on what to do.
If you have prepared for a crisis already, you probably have a pre-written response to a situation like this; that’s good! In February 2017, an article on How PR professionals should handle the fake news phenomenon appeared in Agility PR, written by Director of Media Insights Jim Donnelly. Donnelly conducted an interview with Hofstra University Professor and Bloomberg contributor Dr. Kara Alaimo on handling fake news. One question specifically addressed these situations with two or three rules to keep in mind. One positive measure is to have a response ready in advance, because when it comes to experiencing a crisis, every minute counts.
Alaimo also points out making sure you are keeping your client’s values in mind while communicating. If this is something you have been consistently doing before this incident, then it will be no hassle to reference back to, showing your clients’ interests are a priority.
A common question is when is it best to respond?
That answer seems to vary across multiple professionals. In the end, it just depends on the situation. For example, when it comes to internet trolls, it is best to just ignore them so they move along. But when their story trends, then answer with the truth, do not allow yourself to get flustered because that only feeds the trolls.
Alaimo share as well that, “you need to monitor carefully. The time to respond is if a social media post is starting to gain traction amongst stakeholders who are important to the company, such as customers, employees, investors, buyers, or board members.”
Another form of combating fake news is to “flood the media with a positive narrative.” In a November 2016 article for PR Week by Ilyse Liffreing, So your brand is the victim of fake news. Now what? Liffreing shares that you need to embrace the crisis and make the best of it, reversing the dialogue to positive content about what is happening with your brand. Share the truth and back it up with more positivity. If you don’t counter with good news, you could potentially open yourself up to more fake news.
The question now is, where are we headed as a profession in this new era of alternative facts?
The first thing to remember is accountability. Dan Guttridge from Ragan’s PR Daily notes in his March 6 article, PR pros’ role in the fake news epidemic, that we need to hold journalists accountable and “check credibility through facts and sources.” We can even take this a step forward and hold ourselves accountable for what we say to people and how we represent our brand as we traverse this terrain of fake news.
Guttridge shares some more amazing tips as you continue through his article. Here are some other key points we should consider as PR professionals,
- Do your own research.
- Stop reading headlines as facts.
- Expand your world.
That last tip is fascinating because he makes the argument to find some reputable journalist to read and take the time to learn more about what is happening. Speak to people who challenge your views and make you think.
We as PR professionals can provide the cure for the fake news virus. Know that if we keep our integrity and credibility, public relations will thrive in this fight.
By Jayla Kearney
“We gave the internship to someone else with more experience.” I was stunned to hear those words from a recruiter last year. How could someone already have two years of related experience as a college student? I thought I was on the right track but little did I know, I could have been doing much more.
In public relations and many other fields, it is difficult to obtain a job post-graduation without experience. Employers expect you to already have some type of experience in your field in order to prove that you have built the right skills. Even some internships require you to have experience.
So, how do you build a portfolio of work when the majority of jobs require you to have at least two years of experience?
Here are some ways to gain PR experience in college:
- Internships: Internships are among the most common opportunities to develop valuable job market skills. Depending on where you live, there are an abundance of internship opportunities in the public relations field. Try getting multiple internships under your belt before graduation. The more you do, the more contacts you make and the more experience you gain. Internships are also a great way to learn what activities and sectors are most interesting to you. In addition, they can be a valuable learning experience.
- Volunteer: Do you want to work for a particular company? See if there are any events or projects in which you can voluntarily get involved. Many companies post volunteer opportunities on LinkedIn. Here is an example from a nonprofit organization needing a social media plan: Social Media Plan for Family Promise of Hawaii (Remote). Volunteering stands out on a resume and catches the employees of that company’s attention.
- Blogging: Blogging is something anyone with a computer can easily begin doing. Blogging is valuable because it shows potential employers that you have writing skills and they learn what you are passionate about. It can also be an opportunity to showcase your expertise or intelligence about a particular topic. In addition, it helps develop a personal brand.
- Campus involvement: If you’re not already involved on campus, you should seriously consider branching out. Join any organization that interests you! The organization may even need someone to do their public relations and social media management. In addition to joining PR/communications organizations such as Public Relations Society of America and the International Association of Business Communicators, you can become the PR/marketing chair for your fraternity/sorority or any organization that plans events.
- Student Jobs: Ask around. There may even be real PR jobs for students available. At the University of Central Missouri, we are lucky to have Innovative Public Relations as a student-led agency that gives us real world experience. In addition, check with the theater department, television station or any office on campus for available publicity or social media positions.
- Build connections with a variety of people: Anyone can be a valuable connection, not just recruiters. Talk to your peers from different majors as well as your own. You may be able to help each other out when an employer is looking for another assistant or intern.
- Pitch yourself: When you cannot find anything that interests you, create your own opportunities. Come up with a list of duties and pick an on-campus organization or a company that can benefit from having a PR Intern. Some small or local organizations may not have a specific person to do their public relations. Ask them about it! It could be a great start for your career. Also, follow professionals on Twitter and people with whom you would like to work. Often, companies and even musicians have gone to Twitter asking for PR professionals.
If you or anyone you know would like to apply for Innovative Public Relations for Fall 2017, navigate to the “Join Our Team” tab.