By Emily Thole
*Warning. This post may contain spoilers about the hit TV show, “This is Us.” Proceed with caution.*
“This is Us” is the television show everyone is telling you to watch. It is full of happiness, anger, sadness, joy and every emotion in between, however, there is one monumental episode that you can’t forget. If you’re anything like me, this blog post will bring up a flood of emotions, so get your tissues ready.
As avid viewers of the show, we all know where we were when Jack died. Yes, I’m bringing up that heartbreaking moment. I was sitting with my roommates on our red leather couch in the living room, staring at the small screen with tears rolling down our faces, full of disbelief. This man fearlessly saved his entire family from a house fire, and then went back into the blazing building to rescue his daughter’s dog and a few personal items, only to wind up valiantly perishing. He was a hero, and then he was gone. Not because of burns, or an injury that was visible, but for having too much smoke in his lungs. This is the drama that keeps viewers coming back.
What does this tragic scene have to do with public relations? Well, after the episode, fans were boycotting one particular brand, and because of that, they had a crisis on their hands.
One thing I didn’t mention was how the fire started in the Pearson household. It was a Crock-Pot. The faulty slow cooker is accidentally left on and it starts a fire in the family’s kitchen, which leads to the entire house burning down, and later, Jack’s demise. Fans of the show immediately took to the Internet to share their heartbreak and frustration over the episode and the Crock-Pot brand. Their name was disgraced, and their stock plummeted, but Crock-Pot’s response to the crisis is one PR professionals can learn from.
First, Crock-Pot responded quickly. They released a statement less than 24-hours after the show aired. And shortly after they sent out a news release stating facts about their products to ease consumers’ minds that can be read fully here. Not only that, but they created a Twitter page called “CrockPotCares” to respond to viewers who were concerned about product safety, and throwing away their Crock-Pots.
Crock-Pot did a great job of listening to consumers’ complaints. They understood that people were upset, and they did their best to respond with understanding to build back their image. They even created the hashtag #CrockPotIsInnocent to use in their responses to defend their brand.
Good tweet to consumer https://twitter.com/CrockPotCares/status/956258200239706114
Help from Star Power
Although this was a crisis they didn’t see coming, Crock-Pot wasn’t afraid to ask for help when getting their image back. They used the actor who portrays Jack, Milo Ventimiglia, in a commercial promoting the Super Bowl, joking about the Crock-Pot controversy. “The Late Show” host, Stephen Colbert, mentioned the issue on his show, stirring up conversation. Ellen DeGeneres even partnered with the company to hand out Crock-Pots as one of the giveaways on her show. Each of these people helped Crock-Pot restore their image.
A crisis can pop up at any time. Companies must be prepared in case a television show uses your product to kill off a beloved character. In a time of crisis, PR professionals can use Crock-Pot as an example. Although the situation presented on screen was fictional, Crock-Pot responded successfully and recovered quickly because of the crisis plan they had in place.
Crockpot even got Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) to make a video joking about the crisis as a whole (https://twitter.com/CrockPotCares/status/959789384785715200)
Their own hashtag #CrockPotIsInnocent
Stephen cobert https://twitter.com/CrockPotCares/status/958022381741764609
Good tweet to consumer https://twitter.com/CrockPotCares/status/956258200239706114
By Kylee Julian
Getting an internship always looks so easy in the movies. You just choose a business, go inside and apply, then poof you get it. The next day you are getting coffee and bagels, then a month later you’re the CEO. Sounds easy. Right? Well, I learned very quickly that if I wanted to secure an internship, I would have to hit the ground running and apply, apply, and apply again.
Finally, Staley Farms Golf Club accepted me as part of the team as the summer public relations intern. I worked with a few different departments in the overhead company to ensure that everyone was on the same page and that things run smoothly. I worked with the head of marketing, Abby Crowley. Abby and I developed flyers, social media flyers, videos, and other marketing efforts to advertise upcoming events and changes being made to the club. I also worked with the head of events and food and beverages, Kayla Adams. We worked together in preparation and tear down for events, walkthroughs to show the space, working with other companies to get needed items for events and managing events as they take place.
One thing that movies were right about is that interns can work long hours. Working 10-12 hour per days doesn’t sound too bad until you are doing it multiple times a week. Now, it wasn’t all bad. I got to meet some amazing people and learn a lot from different parts of the job.
There really wasn’t a typical day on the job. Over the internship, there were multiple events each week, all dealing with different items. Whether it was setting up a tournament or working with a bride, each event required a lot of coordination and each taught me different lessons, which will benefit me in my professional career. Sometimes you have to work with athletes or colleges hosting tournaments at Staley. The internship came with many fun-filled days, and new experiences. There were days where I got to make centerpieces for large events. Then there were other days where I got to meet and greet pro football players and help run their tournaments. It was always something new and different.
After spending some time reflecting on my education, it is clear that several classes helped to prepare me for this internship. My design and writing classes helped with the marketing side of the Golf Club. My PR law class gave me knowledge about how to look up city ordinances to help make certain the Club was operating in accordance with local regulations.Courses on strategic planning and strategic communication helped me in the day-to-day work, giving me the tools to be able to successfully brainstorm in a large group. Also, during staff meetings, I was able to successfully present and give visuals in order to make a point and better communicate the projects in which I was involved.
An internship gives you the opportunity to learn more about working in a particular environment. I learned a lot about myself and my work ethic. I learned how to multitask in a whole new way, and work with new people every day. I enjoyed the fast-paced atmosphere and getting to work with different departments.
I hope everyone gets the chance to learn as I did in a real-life setting and to make the connections with the kinds of people I experienced during my internship. Internships are a constant reminder that the expert in anything was once a beginner, and if you learn and apply yourself, you can accomplish anything.
By Emily Jarboe
Have you ever thought about what social media will look like in the next 10 years? Social media and its strategies are constantly changing. Consider just how much social media has evolved in the last five years. Companies need to keep up with change in trends and progression of technology in order to stay current and connect with their audience.
While it can be difficult to predict the future of social media marketing, there are at least three trends that experts say can be anticipated:
Consumption of visual content will change
As a public relations professional or a social media marketer, you should know how important it is to include visual content into your social media marketing plan. If you have not shifted your attention to visual content, then you are in need of a new marketing strategy because this particular trend should not be ignored.
Here are some statistics I found that justify the statements above:
- “When people read information, they’re likely to remember only 10% of that information three days later. However, if a video presents that same information, people retained 70% of the information three days later.”
- “Video content currently represents more than 70% of all internet traffic.”
- “Facebook users watch 8 billion videos per day.”
- “4X as many consumers would prefer to watch a video about a product than to read about it.”
The Rise of Dark Social
According to Techopedia, Dark Social refers to “the social sharing of content that occurs outside of what can be measured by web analytics programs.” Dark Social can be a challenge for companies that are trying to track and monitor social media activity and website referrals. Dark Social mostly occurs when a link is sent through email or instant messaging, instead of shared on a social media platform where results can be easily measured.
The Death of Organic Reach and Facebook
Facebook is making it very hard to reach your audience organically. Facebook originated with the initial idea to help people connect with each other. Due to users complaining that posts from the media, businesses, and brands have “crowded out their personal moments,” Facebook decided to be very cautious and selective about what they place on their users’ feeds. Looking towards the future, brands may want to shift their Facebook strategy entirely to a paid approach since the luxury of a free online presence is declining.
While the future of social media marketing can’t always be easily forecasted, we can almost guarantee that the trends are likely to change as technology progresses. Our social media strategies and how we approach them are constantly evolving, and it’s especially important to keep up with those changes in order to successfully connect with our audience and stay relevant.
By Nickey Buzek
Internships are designed to be the segway between the school realm and the professional world. They help students take what they learned in the classroom and project it onto a position they worked hard to gain. If a company does it just right, the student will walk away with experiences they weren’t even looking for. I know I wasn’t looking for the opportunities that fell into my lap when I stumble onto an internship with a company called P1 Learning.
I had just given a speech at a networking event called PR Connect when a gentleman introduced himself to me as Speed Marriott. “Can I have a minute of your time,” he asked politely. I realized I must have stepped into a different dimension for someone to ask me for my time rather than the other way around.
Marriott told me that he was attending the networking event because he was a University of Central Missouri alumnus, and one of our professors asked him to make an appearance. He said he was the CEO of a Kansas-based eLearning company called P1 Learning. The brief description he gave was something to the effect of, “We create training videos for on-the-go professionals in the broadcast industry.” I had never heard of such a service.
He must have known what I was thinking, because he followed up with, “Do you have a resume on you? I can have our VP of Marketing and Sales tell you more and talk to you about an internship.” I didn’t just give the man my resume; I gave him my business card and the biggest “please hire me” smile too.
I came into the internship expecting there to be a set way of doing things as companies often have in place. But at P1 Learning, it’s often said, “It’s easier to be a smaller company with the ability to adjust quickly, rather than a larger company set in their ways.” This mentality was the driving force behind P1 Learning’s willingness to try new approaches and welcome new ideas. Both of these seemed to be two necessary components in a culture that invited successful public relations initiatives.
Other inviting factors could be seen in my department specifically. The VP of Marketing and Sales and the marketing representative were enthusiastic about each new task I worked on and were quick to praise exceptional work.
With a mentality that adjustments are always possible and teamwork makes everything easier, my 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. workdays were far from routine. One day, I would engage in scriptwriting. Another day, I would be filming. Some days, I would sit in on meeting after meeting, and other days I would stay in my office with Slack attached to my fingertips for communication. The variety and autonomy P1 Learning gave me eased the transition from college life to the professional world, but it was the unique times that made the professional world the best.
My “atypical” days were much different. They included out-of-office trips, broadcast station tours, and even hula hooping in the middle of the lunch area. Occasionally, I would have to remind myself that I really didn’t step into another world and that I got to work with people who embraced my love of variety and autonomy. All of these experiences came within a three-month time period and put me on the fast track to having a direction for my career.
Life after graduation can seem like a different dimension to college students. Transitioning from on-campus organizations to contributing to work that goes out on behalf of a company can be daunting. But internships, such as the one I experienced at P1 Learning, make students like myself better prepared for the diverse experiences that come with the professional world. They help us become more confident in taking that step into the different dimension we call the workforce.
By Meredith Trapper
As a student, I often find myself relating activities or hobbies to the things I am learning in class. However, this year I was able to do the opposite and take what I have learned in the classroom and apply it to my executive position in Delta Zeta sorority.
This past year I served as the vice president of membership for Delta Zeta. In this role, my main purpose was to prepare our current members for fall recruitment. Training for recruitment can begin as early as January and include a number of workshops.
Being a young PR professional, I started to ask myself some questions. Why am I doing this? Why do I need to train my members? Why do we do recruitment? In doing this, I was reminded of the book we read in Orientation to PR, ‘Start with Why.’ In this book, we looked at the importance of knowing your “why” in all aspects of life. I took this very simple lesson and applied it to our first training session. I found a TED talk about the book and a poem that got our members to reflect on the questions I had been asking myself. By doing this, members were able to find the purpose of our activities and stay motivated for all recruitment workshops.
The next training session, I applied yet another classroom lesson. We completed a SWOT analysis (strength, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) of our sorority. We also discussed who our target audience would be during recruitment. We looked at ourselves internally and then discussed the types of women we wanted in the future. This helped us strategize on how to engage this type of women we were searching for.
Spring semester is also a good time to look at our “brand” and what we want that to look like to those outside of the organization. We pride ourselves in being a group of intelligent, diverse women who empower one another, but how do we show that? We took to social media to try to reflect this. We took an old idea of a hashtag and ran with it. #TakeoverTuesday was used in the weeks leading up to recruitment to show ways that our women had empowered one another.
View this post on Instagram
#TakeoverTuesday “Brenna was the friend I never saw coming. She pushed me to strive for things I never would have pictured myself. She’s encouraged me through every step of the way and I would not have been where I am today without her love and guidance. She is truly a model of what sisterhood is all about” – Meredith
If you want to empower your brand, “start with your why” and build from your answer. You might be shocked what you learned about yourself and your organization.
By Emily Thole
In the restless and brutal sea of social media, taking a risk could leave a company struggling for air. You may have noticed from recent events, Nike decided to jump into the water head first by tackling a highly controversial topic in the U.S. With immediate response, the internet both attacked and commended Nike for taking a knee on a political subject that many brands and organizations avoid.
Colin Kaepernick, former San Francisco 49er’s quarterback who inspired player protest throughout the NFL, tweeted a photo marking him as the newest face of Nike.
The photo shared stated, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” Since Kaepernick’s first protest in 2016, where he kneeled during the national anthem against police brutality, he has received backlash from the NFL and people around the country. His actions ultimately left him without a spot on any team, but Nike decided to endorse him anyway. In the early stages of the “Just Do It” campaign’s 30th anniversary, they made a statement.
As a result of the partnership, Nike made headlines. Celebrities including Jamie Lee Curtis, Serena Williams, Russell Crowe and COMMON were praising the brand on Twitter alongside Americans throughout the nation.
But with the good also comes the bad, and even ugly. Multiple individuals took to social media posting images and videos of themselves burning their Nike products, and cutting the swoosh logo from their socks and apparel, voicing that they will never shop with the brand again.
Nike isn’t the first brand to tackle a controversial issue. Many other companies have taken a stance on social issues as well. Dick’s Sporting Goods protested gun violence after the Parkland, Fla. massacre by saying they would no longer sell assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and also prohibit the sale of guns to customers under the age of 21. Airbnb shot back at President Trump when he closed the borders to refugees in a campaign called, “We Accept,” by voicing their company’s acceptance of other races and nationalities in a time when the biggest figurehead of the nation was saying the opposite. When the U.S. pulled out the Paris Agreement, Ben and Jerry’s started a campaign called, “Save Our Swirled,” focusing on the topic of climate change. Each of these brands were criticized for becoming politically involved, just like Nike.
For a brand with popularity around the world, what form of success can come from this controversial partnership? Through all the back and forth of praise and hate, will either party prosper?
It depends on how you measure success, and from my research, numbers don’t lie. According to the Washington Post, after an initial drop when Kaepernick shared the photo, Nike online sales went up 31 percent. The incident got people to talk about the organization, and, whether positive or negative, the Nike brand was pushed to the forefront of their minds. According to Bloomberg, the company received over $43million in media exposure in the first 24 hours, and that continues to grow.
Risking your brand’s reputation is scary, but if it is something you believe in, take a knee and show the world what you stand for.
By Blake Hedberg
WARRENSBURG, Mo. (Aug. 27, 2018) — The University of Central Missouri’s student-led public relations firm, Innovative PR, received two professional awards this summer for its 2017 event #teamUCM Social Media Night. The agency competed against many for-profit businesses in the Greater Kansas City Area.
The Kansas City chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) awarded #teamUCM Social Media Night a KC Quill award, the second time in the firm’s history to receive this honor. However, the winning wasn’t over for Innovative PR for the summer. In July, the firm received a Silver AMPS award from the Social Media Club of Kansas City at the organization’s annual banquet.
“We are incredibly honored to be distinguished for our work. Many hours went into making this event a reality and it is a great feeling to see the work of our students pay off,” said Agency Manager Blake Hedberg. “The 2017 event pushed our agency to new heights and created many opportunities, while providing visibility to our firm. I had a great team behind me.”
For six consecutive years, Innovative PR has been the driving force behind UCM’s popular #teamUCM Social Media Night event. Launched in 2013, the event takes place during a UCM Mules and Jennies basketball game and has engaged, entertained, and rewarded participants with a night of prizes, trivia, and contests.
The spring 2017 Innovative PR team raised more than $2,000 in donations and their comprehensive social media plan ushered in more than 1.2 million media impressions. IPR and UCM Athletics social media impressions more than tripled, while mentions increased more than 40 percent and profile visits nearly tripled over 2016 event numbers.
“Innovative PR’s work on behalf of its many clients is excellent. Winning the 2018 awards is an illustration of that excellence,” said program supervisor Dr. Tricia Hansen Horn. “We are proud to have the agency’s work represented and recognized by the Kansas City IABC and the Social Media Club of Kansas City.”
For more than nine years, students in the UCM Public Relations Program that are accepted into the UCM Innovative PR agency have the opportunity to gain real-life experience, while working with several client projects. In its time, more than 100 students have dedicated more than 22,000 hours of service to the greater UCM community.
# # #
Innovative Public Relations (Innovative PR) is University of Central Missouri’s student public relations firm, managed and operated by UCM public relations students. Under the direction of UCM’s Integrated Marketing and Communications office and the academic public relations program, the firm was founded in January 2010. It is comprised of several public relations students who are dedicated to professional development and public relations initiatives. Innovative PR is committed to serving the UCM community by executing timely, accurate and ethical strategies and tactics, with a goal of serving clients outside of the UCM community in the future. For more information, visit ucminnovativepr.com or contact Innovative PR at firstname.lastname@example.org or 660-543-8557.
By Morgan Anderson
Newsjacking is one of the best ways to keep your company current and popular. Used in traditional forms of advertising and social media, newsjacking is taking advantage of current events in such a way to advertise your brand.
Created by David Meerman Scott (his website and book can be found here) and popularized on social media, this type of advertising is a great way to gain followers and knowledge of your brand. Newsjacking can double organic news searches for your brand. It also allows you to have an immediate impact on your followers. Here are three general rules about newsjacking that everyone should follow.
- Make it current
Newsjacking only works if the event is current. Anything past a week could possibly be out of date, depending on the event. You want the posts to be immediate if it is a fun event or possibly something that is considered rare. Oreo was one of the first to hop on the newjacking trend when it started in 2013 when a blackout happened during the Superbowl. This tweet went out minutes after the blackout occurred, and the marketing team was on top of it. It gained almost 15,000 retweets and over 6,000 likes.
2. Make it tasteful
In wakes of crisis, it is important to make social media content tasteful. Trying to newsjack after a crisis can harm your brand if you are not careful. After Hurricane Sandy, Gap tweeted “All impacted by #Sandy, stay safe! We’ll be doing lots of Gap.com shopping today. How about you?” with a link to gap.com. After millions of people lost their home, this probably was not the best item to tweet about.
3. Make it relevant to your company
Making content relevant to your company is very important. The point of newsjacking is to create a link between the current event that is happening and your brand. Muncie Animal Shelter did a great job with this during the Pokemon Go! craze in 2016. They placed an ad on social media to have people hunt Pokemon while helping walk their dogs. They gained more than 10,000 interactions on Facebook alone with this simple post.
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 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.