By Ashleigh Horn
“Thank you“ can be defined as a polite expression of one’s gratitude. Though this definition seems so simple, the action of thanking others has become about as rare as some students coming to class these days.
I’ll be the first to admit that I have historically been guilty of not taking time to express my appreciation for others when they have done something for me—acts of service I often have benefitted from. However, as a student and future professional, I’m continually learning the importance and impact of taking two minutes out of my day to sit down and write a thank you note to someone who has gone out of their way to make my life better.
Saying “thank you” not only reflects graciousness, it also lets that future employer, a professor, or even your parents, know that you’re mindful and appreciative of their time. In return, it will likely encourage them to want to help you again in the future.
I understand that we live in a hectic and fast-paced world. We’re busier and more involved today than we were even 10 years ago. Between school, work, jobs, and extracurricular activities, it can be difficult to find time to go out to the occasional dinner with friends. However, this fast-paced culture we’ve established is no excuse to not say “thank you.”
Unfortunately, it has become a common practice. In 2019, Jennifer Spencer, recruiter and owner of The Spencer Group, Inc., shared that no one sends thank you’s anymore. She believes that, nowadays, probably for every five people a hiring manager will interview, one person sends a thank you. That’s it!”
Managers, employers, and educators alike go to great lengths to invest in students and these two little words stand out when you say them simply because few ever do. To my fellow students, if you want them to notice you, take time to acknowledge them!
In The Power of Thank You, blogger Chris Rackliffe identifies three reasons why giving thanks is mighty. According to Rackliffe, saying thank you is not only the ultimate way to reaffirm yourself, but doing so also shows that you appreciate and respect what connects all things, as well as opens up doors of possibility.
Likewise, Spencer mentioned that sending a thank you can result in your resumé being bumped up to the top of the applicant list for that company you just interviewed with. This is a prime example of opportunity stemming from showing gratitude. Soon-to-be graduates, please take note, this could be especially important for those of you who are looking for jobs right now!
Though saying “thank you” may seem easy, it takes intentionality and effort. However, there can be great reward in carving out time to do so. We all like to be acknowledged and I believe expressing our thankfulness should become a more common practice.
Who’s one person in your life that you want to thank today?
By Ashleigh Horn
There’s no denying that each generation is different. Baby Boomers, Generation X, Xennials, Millennials, Generation Z, I’m sure as you read each of these titles, you may have recalled your own thoughts toward each group. During a time where as many as five different generations are working together in the workplace, it’s important to understand how they all function and what each brings to the table.
Though I could certainly cover all five of these and the impacts they have in the workplace, I want to instead provide first-hand insight into a generation that is seemingly misunderstood by its predecessors. This is a generation with a desire to create change; a generation that I have nearly 21 years of experience being part of.
Who are we?
Although the lines defining the age range of my generation are a bit blurry, the Pew Research Center identifies this group as having been born after 1996 (Parker & Igielnik, 2020). Today, some Gen Z-ers walk the halls of middle schools, whereas others are hunched over books in their dorm rooms, working full-time agency jobs or even preparing to vote in the upcoming presidential election. There’s no doubt we’re all at different stages in our lives; however, somehow, some way, there are a few common desires and passions we all seem to share.
How is this generation different?
Generation Z is the largest generation to date. We also have access to more technology, media and quite honestly, each other, than any generation before us. It may be our sheer size, or it quite simply may be the comfort we feel in sharing our thoughts and ideas through Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat, that compels us to reach for our dreams and to stand up for what we believe in. Politics, social injustice, sustainability, ideas for new products or businesses, we Gen Z-ers are a researched, opinionated, innovative, change-making group.
The Target Incubator
A few years back, the Target retail chain set out to better connect with this next generation of consumers. One way they did so, was through directly engaging with young Gen Z entrepreneurs in what they called the “Target Incubator.” Inspired by these young adults’ big ideas about “better for people” and “better for the planet” products, the company selected eight business pitches, created by students, to help become a reality.
You may be asking, “Why would the company do this, and what was their reward?”
Generation Z is often referred to as the “Changemaker” generation. Target recognized that many of its Gen Z consumers have big plans to change the world and sought to help make their dreams become reality. The students’ ideas ranged from producing compostable single-use products to using juice pulp waste to create healthy snacks. These eight businesses were not only unique—they did not simply provide innovative products or services—rather, they were all created as solutions to a number of the social and environmental issues we face in the 21st century.
I think James Sancto, founder of We Make Change, hit the nail on the head when he described Generation Z’s passion as “not willing to accept the world as it is, [who] believes [it] can address the challenges the world faces today, and [who] will do whatever [it] can to make the change [it wants] to see” (Sancto, 2019). The product of the Target Incubator is a testament to Gen Z’s eagerness and willingness to ensure the changes we wish to happen are made.
Gen Z’s not so breakthrough solution to creating change is to have a purpose. Whether you’re a business, college institution, or just someone we pass on the street, Gen Z-ers want to know what you’re all about.
What are your goals?
Who or what do you stand for?
Does your vision align with what we believe?
Generation Z prioritizes purpose and “[looks] to engage with brands and organizations that have a higher purpose that goes well beyond a simple transaction” (Beal, 2019). Unlike generations before us, we don’t simply purchase a product or rep a brand because we like it or it’s “convenient.” Rather, we use the power of reviews and our access to technology to compare prices, product availability, to research a company’s CSR practices and what it values, in order to make educated purchases (Salesfloor, n.d.).
Google, Netflix, Spotify and the Walt Disney Company are all examples of some of the most loved brands by Gen Z consumers. It’s no coincidence that all of these same companies placed in the Digital Marketing Institutes (2020) list of the “Top 16 Brands doing Corporate Social Responsibility Correctly.” Generation Z values these brands because they do more than provide their specific products and services; these companies use their platforms to create change on issues important to their employees and to each company as a whole.
As I mentioned earlier, Gen Z-ers look for ways to impact our own corners of the world. In fact, we often make decisions with long-term consequences in mind. We’ve been called lazy, self-involved, tech-dependent, and more (The NPD Group, 2020). Yes, some of these monikers may be partly true. But, we are also a passionate generation focused on standing up for only those issues or movements that align with our interests. Our passions drive our actions. We just might change the world.
As each new year has passed onto the next, Generation Z, or the “Changemaker” generation, has become older and older. With this age has come new responsibilities, both in our own lives and in contributing to the world around us. We are growing up, entering the workforce and making an impact in our own generationally-unique way. Slowly but surely, we are revealing who we are, what we value, what our goals are, and are debunking the generational stereotypes that have defined us since we were babies. In turn, we are using these differences to provide new perspectives in both the workplace and in society, and are doing all in our power to create change.
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: Samuel Jordison
For the past year, I had the opportunity to work as a human resources intern for a manufacturing plant in Kansas City. When comparing PR and HR on the surface it looks like two completely different fields, but there is a lot they have in common. I’ve found that certain commonalities extend not just between PR and HR, but PR and almost every field in business. One of those things is that you have to know your audience.
One of the first things we learn in Intro to Public Relations is that you need to understand who your “public” is if you want to relate to them. That advice is universal across the world. If we want to communicate something to someone, first we need to make sure they are interested in what we are communicating. If we want them to respond, we need to communicate in a way that is clear to them. If we want them to have a positive reaction to what we say, then we need to say it in a way that encourages them in a positive way. All of these things hinge on knowing who your audience is and understanding what is important to them.
This is not exclusive to those in the PR world. In the workforce, managers need to know that their employees have an interest in their work to be good employees. Parents want their children to understand them, and will try and communicate in ways their children will understand. Even friendships are built with recurring positive interaction.
Knowing your audience, whether it’s employees, co-workers, friends, or family members, is important in any setting. As an HR Intern, my primary audience was the employees inside the company. I strived to gain an understanding of how they think and the best way to communicate with them. Otherwise, the programs or events we would roll out would be ineffective.
When we take time to figure out how those around us will best receive our message, we are strengthening a relationship. Whether that relationship is with consumers, employees, family or friends, it’s extremely beneficial.
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by Jonathan Haile
This semester started with a question for Innovative PR: what is brand journalism? Just when we thought we had the answer, we scratched our heads and realized there was more to it. Ultimately, we concluded that brand journalists provide readers with different stories that cover different aspects of a brand. When readers piece these stories together, they have a general understanding of the brand’s image and values.
Our best example was Coca-Cola, which takes brand journalism to a new level with a site that looks similar to Mashable, but features all Coke-relevant content. While I’m a huge fan of what Coke is doing, I couldn’t help but think that “brand journalism” is just a fancy word for content marketing. So what’s the difference?
What is Content Marketing?
My commutes to and from Warrensburg are filled with the words of Joe Pulizzi, the author of Epic Content Marketing. Pulizzi is credited with coining the term. In his book, he explains that the content marketing, in the grand scheme of things, is about getting leads and driving sales. Business 2 Community, another great resource, agrees with Pulizzi and explains that content marketing involves a “customer” relationship:
“Content marketing goal: Influence audience behavior by publishing useful content that supports the customer journey, encourages loyalty and enables amplifications.”
When you start a content marketing campaign, Pulizzi suggests you begin with a “pilot,” which he compares to that of a new television series. The pilot is an example of what your readers should expect, and is accompanied by sales measurable objectives. With a successful content strategy, you will always understand why and how your content is driving the audience to make purchase decisions.
The two concepts have inherently different objectives, but are great compliments to each other and share similarities. Brand journalists and content marketers need to be strategic in their posts—knowing what is relevant to the reader and where the post will get the most exposure.
Both tools should function to strengthen the relationship between customers and brands, lower brands’ advertising costs, and be beneficial for brands’ internal audiences. They reinforce corporate values and keep employees updated with company happenings.
As a PR student, what is more appealing? Would you rather tell the unique corporate story as a brand journalist or drive sales and build leads as a content marketer? Let us know. “Follow” Innovative PR on Twitter and Instagram, and “like” us on Facebook.
by Ana Guzman
Hashtags are so widely used now it is hard to explain the original purpose of them. This unique tagging helps categorize words into topics that can be linked to other Twitter users using the same hashtags. This grouping system facilitates interaction by sorting the links, making it easier for users to find posts with others using the same hashtag. This can potentially increase interaction between individuals around the world posting about the same topic. They can also create hype, therefore creating a new trending topic.
According to the Twitter Support page, trending topics are determined by an algorithm Twitter uses based on the individual’s location and who the person follows on Twitter. Trending topics are not identified by what has been popular for an extended period of time but by topics that became immediately popular.
If used correctly, a hashtag can be extraordinarily powerful. It cannot only create a hype, help advertisers promote a product, get people to interact and state their opinions, but also help individuals find information easily.
According to “A new perspective on Twitter Hashtag Use,” an article by Hsia-Ching Chang, as Twitter grows and evolves, more people are partaking in sharing information and their opinions with the world and providing a like via hashtag. This practice is growing and evolving so fast it has expanded into other mediums. Social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest have employed the use of hashtags. Television advertisements also have started to associate a specific hashtag with them as a way of prompting more engagement with viewers.
For example, #UpForWhatever was a hashtag used by But Light for a series of commercials where a typical guy named Ian is faced with a wild night full of fun and celebrities. This commercial was released during the Super Bowl and the hashtag was such a success it is still being used now.
In my experience, the hashtag creates a sense of community. It allows interaction between individuals during live events, such as the Sochi Olympics, disasters like Hurricane Sandy and current news trends such as Major League Baseball games.
Some individuals use hashtags as personal descriptions of what they are doing, what they’re wearing, in sarcastic messages or to express feelings rather than meaningful ideas.
Some examples of poor hashtag use are:
- Spam Hashtags – Spam hashtags are when you add a hashtag before every word, for example, #Today #is #my #Birthday. This kind of hashtag is futile and has no concrete categorization in a search.
- Over-tags – This means hashtagging multiple subjects within one message. According to the Twitter help page and Best practices the recommended number of hashtags within one tweet is two. Any more than that will lose meaning and turn into an over-tag.
- Long and meaningless hashtags (#MyDogLovesEatingVanillaIceCream) – Somewhere around the world someone maybe posting about how much their dog loves eating vanilla ice cream, but this hashtag won’t link them to anyone else… unless by coincidence someone else is using it.
Make sure you are getting the full potential out of your hashtags. Make them have meaning and a purpose. I found an article that helped me understand how to properly and effectively use hashtags by making them short and concise and limiting the number of hashtags in one tweet to two.
by Jeremy Noble
Public relations is planned with the audience in mind. The skills we develop in the classroom come together working with real clients and gaining professional experiences. Working with Christian Campus House this semester allowed my Innovative PR team the opportunity to plan and budget for an event and gain professional experience.
In partnership with Youthfront, CCH sponsors Something to Eat™ in Warrensburg, giving students and the community an opportunity to help people in need by creating food packages. Through this generous act of feeding others, we are helping to restore justice in the world.
CCH assigned us the task of creating a campaign, promoting the event to the campus and local community. We wanted to create a more engaging atmosphere by reaching out to more of the community than previous years. This is the third year UCM hosts the event on campus and each year the IPR group is given the opportunity to expand the initiative and increase the number of participants in hopes of reaching our goals.
Achieving our goal
The goals this year are to raise awareness of the event and to package 5,000 units, equivalent to 30,000 meals and package 1,000 meals a day. There have been a few challenges in years past to reaching our goal, for instance, the weather was a major factor last year. This year we believe that third time is a charm. With the help of campus and community organizations, we have the opportunity to reach our goals and help those in need.
Changes in 2014
You may be questioning to how this campaign is different from years past. This year we added the group competition to encourage more organizations to participate. We also added the “I fed __ people” label stickers. Since not every participant receives a t-shirt this could be an alternative to those who do not qualify for the t-shirt. To qualify for a t-shirt, participants must create 6-9 packages and make a social media post using the new mural, which can be seen at the event.
The sticker design is the same as the t-shirt design from last year. Our team liked the idea of showing others how many people each participant feeds. We created t-shirts that had a more appealing design than last year’s. Finally, we wanted to interact face-to-face with churches and businesses to help with community engagement.
All groups and organizations are encouraged to reserve a time to package meals by filling out the online form available at ucmo.edu/somethingtoeat. You can also sign up to volunteer. Participants also can help spread the word on Twitter and Instagram by using the hashtag #somethingtoeat.
By Elissa Huck
Public relations professionals wear many hats and must be able to multi-task in order to fulfill several duties; they maintain media relations, internal and external communications and marketing functions. One significant responsibility of today’s PR professionals is crisis communications. A crisis is a major occurrence that could negatively impact a company. Any company in any industry can face a crisis and this week, American Airlines had to deal with an unexpected turn of events on Twitter.
A possible terrorist threat
Sunday, April 13, a 14-year-old girl with the Twitter username @QueenDemetriax and named “Sarah” tweeted at American Airlines, “hello my name’s Ibrahim and I’m from Afghanistan. I’m part of Al Qaida and on June 1st I’m gonna do something really big bye.” American Airlines responded, “Sarah, we take these threats very seriously. Your IP address and details will be forwarded to security and the FBI.” Feeling threatened, Sarah posted a frenzy of sporadic tweets expressing it was a prank and pleading for the company not to take legal action.
Her “social media meltdown” portrayed both her fear of getting in trouble along with insincere and questionable updates about her growing number of followers and more. American Airlines removed its response, and Sarah’s Twitter account was suspended, but not before garnering nationwide attention. “We took it down basically because it generated a lot of traffic,” American spokeswoman Dori Alvarez told the New York Daily News. “We took it down so we could better focus on our customers.”
The next day, Sarah turned herself in to the police in the Netherlands. She is being interrogated, and the exact intention behind her prank threat is being investigated. Many who witnessed the intense Twitter exchange believe that American Airlines was too harsh on the young girl, and others believe that she rightfully deserves her punishment. The public has taken to Twitter to fervently defend and condemn Sarah’s actions.
Evaluating the threat as a developing crisis
I learned in my strategic crisis communications class that crises have five stages: detection, prevention/preparation, containment, recovery and learning. Examining the situation from a crisis perspective, American Airlines detected the threat as a prodrome, or warning sign, to a potential terrorist attack and worked to prevent the crisis by responding in a firm, deliberate manner.
The company made efforts to contain and recover from the developing crisis by deleting the Twitter responses to stop people from encouraging the behavior so the posts would not get out of control. American Airlines can learn from the situation by evaluating the positive and negative outcomes in order to be prepared for a similar occurrence in the future. Whether or not the terrorist threat was real, the company took immediate necessary action in order to keep its customers out of harm’s way.
Photo courtesy of: http://www.PRdaily.com
by Jessica Smith
I was scrolling through my Twitter feed, bored with what I saw until I encountered a tweet from Aerie, the sister company of American Eagle Outfitters. Aerie announced that there will be no more supermodels and no more retouching its girls in its advertisements. Anti-Photoshop? Suddenly, I am intrigued.
Will I no longer have to stare at Barbie-esque women who inevitably make me jealous as I feed my online shopping addiction? I made it my mission to discover if this was as real as Aerie claimed and indeed it was. “We left beauty marks, we left tattoos, what you see is really what you get with our campaign,” Jenny Altman, Aerie brand representative said on Good Morning America. “We’re hoping to break the mold and that real girls everywhere will start to embrace their own beauty.” Aerie definitely broke through the clutter of flawless supermodels with lingerie ads that feature real women with curves, wrinkles, stretch marks and a little belly fat.
These minor flaws can have a major impact on young women. Flipping through typical lingerie catalogs (ahem, Victoria’s Secret) can ultimately have damaging effects on young women’s body image. Aerie has given young women the opportunity to see people like themselves labeled as beautiful and sexy. The campaign is focused on instilling self-confidence in young women. After all, isn’t that how it should be?
Shop for the #real you
Aerie introduced a bra guide to accommodate online shoppers. All you have to do is click on your bra size and the guide will show real women wearing bras in your exact size. This new addition to the website is great. Ultimately, we want to purchase lingerie that looks great on us, not lingerie that looks great on supermodels. But wait, that is not the only new addition to the website. Women from across the U.S. now have the opportunity to be featured on the website. All you have to do is share a photo through Instagram or Twitter using the #AerieREAL tag.
A refreshing step outside
Aerie took a brave step outside of the lingerie drawer with this campaign. Women from all over the country have applauded and shared their excitement on Twitter (including me). Every woman is beautiful in their own unique way; it is refreshing to see this acknowledged by a popular lingerie brand. I have my fingers crossed that other brands will decide to follow in their footsteps.
Photocredit: Huffington Post