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?
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.
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:
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.
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!
● 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.
By: Sebastian Szczurowski
While it seems like social media has been around for a very long time, it has actually only been popular for barely a decade now. With the steady rise of social media over the past few years many companies have been able to strengthen their position in the marketplace by using it to effectively promote their brands and products.
One of the main things that social media allows companies to do is gain faster and more widespread coverage to thousands or even millions of individuals in under the span of a few minutes. This is something that was unimaginable 15 or 20 years ago. The rise of the internet has allowed this rapid increase in media and news coverage outlets across the globe, and has enabled social media to become a powerful tool when it comes to increasing a brand’s visibility within its target market. When a company is able to establish a strong online presence it will become more visible to the public by implementing a communication strategy that helps to promote the company and gain more followers on social media in the long run.
Another well-known advantage that social media has had on the public relations industry is increased communication. Social media allows everyday people to post their thoughts about all sorts of topics with just a click of a button on their phone, laptop, or tablet. These communication channels can also be used to develop relationships with your brand’s consumers and help PR professionals create relevant content that will resonate with their target audiences.
Nowadays, most people have some form of social media account or maybe even have multiple accounts. Today’s social media platforms are designed to provide easy integration for all of their users which allows people of all ages and backgrounds to have access to some form of social media. This has made it much easier for PR professionals to increase awareness of their client’s business and the products and services that are offered.
Social media has allowed many companies worldwide to promote their brands and develop a sense of relevancy with their consumers. Social media allows PR practitioners to track results in real-time and learn more about the people who are interacting with their clients online and how often those interactions are occurring.
While social media is still in its early stages, its value in promoting client branding and as a means for conducting research, are rapidly demonstrating its importance as a strategic public relations tool that is only gaining momentum.
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.
By: Shayna Polly
The United States Senate confirmed Amy Coney Barrett, the fifth woman in history to serve on the Supreme Court, on Oct. 26, 2020. The Girl Scouts, front runner in the business of girl power, tweeted to congratulate Barrett, accompanied by a photograph of all five women who have served.
The Girl Scouts make a habit of making congratulatory social media posts anytime a woman does something of note or an accomplishment celebrating girl power. They mourned Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing, they congratulated Zendaya on winning an Emmy for Euphoria (the second black woman to win in 72 years) and post regularly about women in STEM fields.
As the Girl Scouts’ mission statement notes, “Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.”
My question is: Is the post really political or is it part of their patterned and honed “girl power” branding?
The media seem to believe it was a political statement, and so did those on social media. No time was wasted slandering the Girl Scouts for “supporting” Barrett, so much so, that the Girl Scouts account ended up deleting the tweet and apologizing for even posting it. Of course, the apology suffered backlash from Barrett supporters as well (you really can’t win).
One exmple came from actor Amber Tamblyn, who tweeted “really disappointing and won’t age well when access to safe abortion and the healthcare needs of millions of women and girls is gutted in this country because of Barrett’s addition to the court.”
Some even think the Girl Scouts “caving” to the mass is more of a political statement than their original post. TV personality Megyn Kelly tweeted, “This is pathetic. It’s not ‘partisan’ to generically congratulate the fifth woman ever to join the High Court. It’s patriotic. Taking your tweet down *is* partisan, however, and a real disappointment.”
Looking at this issue from the lens of an unbiased, apolitical observer, it appears that this tweet was not intended to be political. In today’s highly charged and highly divided political climate, however, all organizations should be careful of what they choose to post,realizing how they can be seen through different lenses. In a perfect world, people would be able to see that this tweet was in support of women in general, not to speak to this particular woman’s policy or beliefs. Unfortunately, our world is not perfect.
One must be careful given said climate, especially considering the cancel culture that has come about in the past couple years. We have seen many examples of individuals and organizations being canceled such as stars like James Charles, Johnny Depp, and now Amber Heard while some organizations include Papa Johns, KFC, and GAP. Not to say that these individuals or organizations were right or wrong, just to acknowledge that the media is cancel happy and will take any opportunity to find a big story and cancel someone/something. In this case, the Girl Scouts handled it the best way they could.
I could write about how the media, and people in general, should chill out and maybe attempt to look at things from more than just one perspective, but many (with bigger voices than I) have tried and failed. Until that can happen, my final note is: be careful out there PR pros, it’s rough.
By: Armani Shumpert
Hashtags are important for success in supporting social media content. Appearing as a keyword or phrase with no spaces with the # (pound) symbol at the front of it, the hashtag is a way to make material easy to find, at least when used correctly.
Hashtags have been widely used on Twitter, but they are now popular on other social media platforms sites such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. Understanding the difference in these platforms and how to use hashtags effectively is a great way for you to maximize your engagement with your followers.
While a hashtag seems easy to place before keywords, some other specifics are important to note as you try to reap the greatest benefits of using hashtags. Here are some tips for general purposes:
- Keep hashtags brief and unforgettable rather than attempting to include a variety of words with one tag.
- Try not to pressure any post with hashtags. Use them only if they add importance to your post and are likely to encourage dialog and discussion
- Do not overuse hashtags. The number of hashtags you use depends on which platform you are using, but in most cases, one or two hashtags work better than many.
- The use of descriptive and unique hashtags can yield better results than widespread or generic ones.
Using hashtags is not a one-size-fits-all proposition that is the same for all social media. Here are a few ideas about how hashtags on specific social media platforms can be used properly.
Use Hashtags on Instagram
When it comes to Instagram, using more hashtags will lead to more engagement. Use up to 10 or 11 relevant and popular hashtags on this platform to get the most out of it. You probably do not need to use too many of them, but it is good to know that using more is good here, so you can experiment with what works for you.
Use the search box to see which hashtags are used by influencers or competition. Since this is the best forum for many hashtags, try various hashtags. For blogs, videos, and comments, use them.
Use Hashtags on Twitter
Using the appropriate Twitter hashtags will boost your participation. One or two hashtags on a tweet should be enough. If you use a few hashtags and explicitly ask your followers to retweet, this may result in more engagement.
Using Twitter hashtags can make your post available as people search for your tag. It can also help you locate conversations to get involved. To have even more effect on this forum, research hashtags are trending. Twitonomy is a good method specifically for studying Twitter patterns.
Use Hashtags of LinkedIN
On LinkedIn, people have not always stressed the use of hashtags, but they function on this site in the same way as any of the other social media sites. Using a couple of hashtags on your post if you are posting long-form material on LinkedIn. LinkedIn typically recommends one or three hashtags.
You can get your alerts outside of your network by using hashtags on LinkedIn. It is a perfect way to raise awareness about the brand.
The use of hashtags is an excellent tool for interacting with your followers as well as increasing interaction and attracting new target audiences. To be effective please keep in mind the social media platform you are using and best practices for best results.
By: Emma Honn
As a senior in the public relations program at the University of Central Missouri, I am often asked “What is public relations?” I get the question at family functions, social gatherings and different events around campus. Sometimes, I get tired of the question and think to myself “How do they not understand?” I have realized that people do not know what public relations is because PR professionals have been doing PR for their clients, and not for the profession itself.
Public Relations Society of America defines public relations as “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” To a public relations professional, this makes sense. However, to someone who knows nothing about the industry, it may not. Here are a few things you need to know about public relations.
We are strategic storytellers. We use narrative to build our brand and relationships with our intended audiences. It can be through social media, brand specific communications or the media. We tend to try and humanize a brand, meaning we add a human element to a story or brand to help our audiences relate. For example, instead of saying “buy this product,” we say, “this is important because…” We do this to build trust between our company and our audiences.
We work with the media. Read that correctly: we are not the media, we work with the media. The goal here is to earn media placements. We build a story with a human element, and earn media coverage on the subject. This gets our brand in front of our audiences for something that may not necessarily be our products. Although there is no guarantee of media placement, when we do earn a spot, there is a third party validation of our brand, our products and our story.
We write press releases and speeches, and plan and execute events. A press release is typically written by a public relations professional with the goal of it being picked up by a media outlet. These, however, are written with much thought, newsworthiness and human element. If you are ever listening to a speech, chances are, the script was written by a public relations professional. The basis of speech writing is solid writing skills. PR professionals have an eye for detail and design, two things that are essential to a great speech. Public Relations departments typically handle the planning and execution of events meant for public outreach and media relations. If you are ever at a large event, it was probably handled by someone who works in PR.
We manage social media and handle crises whenever they arise. Social media is a tricky subject. Since it is a relatively new thing in public relations, we have had to learn how to adapt and work with ever-changing platforms. We handle crises that may come up for organizations. For example, think of Volkswagen’s emissions scandal. Every statement given by VW, press conference held, you name it, was planned and handled by a PR team. Crises can range in severity, but whatever the crisis may be, a solid PR professional can handle it.
We are strategic storytellers, work with the media, write press releases and speeches, plan and execute events manage social media and handle crises. These topics are all under the public relations umbrella, but this just scratches the surface. Now, the next time someone says “I work in public relations,” or “I am a public relations major,” you will know a little bit about what they do.
By Shelby Bueneman
Podcasts have become increasingly popular. You can listen to them on Spotify, on the app itself and on Apple music. With such a wide variety of podcasts it can be difficult to find the right one that will benefit you. For public relations professionals there are five basic podcasts to listen to that will help them grow their skills and their business. Listening to these podcasts will help them stay on top of trends, revamp their creativity, find ways to be a better leader, keep up with the actual PR industry and benefit from writing tips.
Stay on Top of Trends
Public relations professionals need to keep up to date on what is trending within their business area, nationwide, and globally. Keeping up with different trends allows PR professionals to see how their target audiences are affected and how they react to the trends. They can use this to their advantage to reach their publics more efficiently. For news podcasts I ,recommend NPR News Now by NPR and Global News Podcast by BBC. Both of these podcasts are updated daily and are fact based with some occasional humor.
Having a creative mind is important for PR professionals. It’s how campaigns and other communication strategies are created. PR professionals should keep their mind flowing with these different podcasts. The Accidental Creative by Todd Henry is a great podcast that showcases different speakers, artists and thought leaders. In this podcast Henry points out different ways to be happy, healthy, and creative, not only at work but in life.
Find Ways to be a Better Leader
I previously attended a conference where it was noted that leadership does not only come from those with higher up positions. Leaders are found throughout the whole company. This sentiment is shared through different podcasts such as Leadership and Loyalty by Dov Baron and This Is Your Life by Michael Hyatt. Baron talks about leadership by using honesty and emotional intelligence. This provides a more insightful way to connect with those you oversee or those with whom you work closely. Hyatt’s podcast is more about helping those with fast-paced lives lead with confidence.
Keeping up with the PR industry
While it is important to stay on top of current trends, it is also important to stay on top of what is currently happening in the PR world. With so many new ways to keep track of everything it is helpful to have much of you need to know wrapped up in an episode. You can follow The Spin Sucks Podcast by Gini Dietrich and Inside PR podcasts to keep up with the PR world. Both of these podcasts follow the inner workings of the PR world and talk about current trends within it.
PR professionals are constantly writing and there is always room for improvement. While professionals usually use AP style, these podcasts can provide a bit more of a fresh narrative. Check out Writing Tips by Brian M. Taylor and Copy that Pops by Laura Peterson, M.A.E.D. for inspiration. Both of these podcasts has some humor to them so you won’t snooze on your way to the office.
With the PR world always changing, listening to podcasts is one of the easiest ways to stay in touch. They are great to listen to on your commute to work or even when you are unwinding from a long day in the office. Happy listening!
By: Sarah Arnett
When I entered college, I did not know what I wanted to major in. While I knew I wanted to make a difference, I continued to explore and research, eventually landing in Dr. Tricia Hansen-Horn’s office to discuss public relations. However, I was unsure how public relations made a difference in the world around me. As I begin my senior year, I have a set of tools in my back pocket, ready to utilize and make a difference.
Networking is crucial to public relations. To be a successful professional, it is important to make connections whenever the opportunity presents itself. Whether it be at a professional event or at the local Starbucks, never pass up the opportunity to make a connection with somebody. You never know, they may be your next partner on a groundbreaking campaign!
– Social Media
Gone are the days of reading the morning newspaper. Instead, you can catch people scrolling through Twitter and checking their email first thing in the morning. A strategic public relations professional knows that social media is a powerful tool to share messages and appeal to human interest.
– Team Work
As much as some hate group work, there is no denying that the best ideas come from the culmination of several ideas. When used effectively, group work sparks creativity and inspires great ideas. These ideas are the ones that motivate audience members to take action, making a lasting impact.
– Setting SMART Goals
If you want to change the world through public relations, big goals are to be expected. However, it is important to make those goals SMART. A goal must be strategic, with sound reasoning and research backing it up. It must also be measurable, to ensure that it is results driven and justifiable use of resources. A goal must also be attainable and realistic, as there is no point in setting a goal that has no chance of being accomplished. A goal must also be time-bound to ensure that resources are being used efficiently and team members are focused on providing results. By setting SMART goals, public relations professionals have a strong plan in place to change the world.
– Finding Your Passion
At the end of the day, the biggest results will come from efforts you are passionate about. There will be projects that you work on that don’t set your soul on fire, and that is okay. But the best ideas and results come from working on things that set your soul on fire. Whether that is grounding breaking technology or a new brand of coffee, the best results are those that you are proud of and feel that you made a difference with.
By combining these skills, as well as many others, public relations professionals are able to provide results that make an impact on the world one message at a time. I’m excited to put them to use in my future career as a public relations professional!
By Meredith Trapper
As graduation quickly approaches, I cannot help but reflect on my time here at UCM and the defining moments that brought me to where I am today. Everyone has a reason for why they picked the degree they did, but for me, there were many reasons and many people.
I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to do when I came to UCM in 2015. However, I quickly realized I had absolutely no clue. I somehow found myself sitting in class thinking about the things that I enjoy the most in life: interacting with people, writing, giving presentations, problem solving, and having not one day be alike. I love always being on the move and challenging myself in every opportunity. Knowing that, I wound up sitting in Dr. Tricia Hansen-Horn’s office trying to understand what on Earth this degree called Public Relations was all about. Little did I know, that Public Relations is all of those things I loved and so much more.
Thank you, Dr. Hansen-Horn, for always taking time to talk through things with me. I will forever be grateful for the life advice you give and for challenging me to do things I never thought myself capable.
From that conversation on, I was sold. Not only do I love everything about the degree I am pursuing, but I love the people within the program. I have never related better to a group of people than I do with those in my program. Prior to starting the program, all my friends were in my sorority, and I never really tried to make friends within my classes. However, that quickly changed as I became more involved in Public Relations.
Thank you Kylee Julian for being the friend I never knew I needed and for pushing me out of my comfort zone to opportunities like Innovative Public Relations (IPR) and studying abroad in Australia with the PR program. You are a true life-long friend that I know will continue to push me out of my comfort zone for many years to come.
Innovative Public Relations has been one of my favorite memories while in college. Not only did I receive real-life experience, but I made friends and memories along the way that I will hold with me forever. My teams and I have accomplished work I can be proud to show off and did so in a fun and exciting way.
Thank you Blake Hedberg for turning me into that nerd who is truly excited to go to a class. You have been a great mentor and someone I respect immensely.
Lastly, thank you to Dr. Horn, Dr. Hansen-Horn, Professor Heapes, and Professor Mullins for not only pushing me to be the best version of myself, but for going above and beyond the call of duty. Thank you for always making time to help with classes, internships, jobs, and so much more. I am so fortunate to have professors that not only want you to succeed in their class, but want to set you up for success in the future. You all make me proud to be graduating from UCM’s PR program, and I know many others in my shoes feel the same way.