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Brand Journalism and Content Marketing: What’s the difference?

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.

Working together

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.

The use and misuse of #hashtags

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.

Its everywhere!

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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.

The misuse

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.

Be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

Something to Eat: Third time is a charm

by Jeremy Noble

Screen Shot 2014-04-21 at 12.07.12 PM

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

A UCM student creates one packages, feeding six people.

A UCM student creates one packages, feeding six people.

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.

Getting Involved

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.

American Airlines manages potential crisis

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.

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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.”

Twitter backlash

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.

As an aspiring PR professional, how would you handle this situation? Give us your feedback, and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

Photo courtesy of: http://www.PRdaily.com

Aerie gets #Real

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.

#AerieREAL

aerie

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.

What are your thoughts about #AerieREAL? Share your thoughts with Innovative PR on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest!

Photocredit: Huffington Post

Coca Cola’s “It’s Beautiful” and the ugly reaction

by Amanda Moore

Every time the Super Bowl comes around I begin to mentally prepare myself for the commercials. I love watching them and deciding with my friends and family who had the funniest, most creative and inspiring. My personal favorites are usually the Doritos commercials, with their fan-made ads, but this year another company caught my attention. Coca-Cola’s ad was different than anything I had seen before.

coke

The backlash

Coca-Cola aired their new ad, “It’s Beautiful”. The 90-second ad featured a diverse group of people and families enjoying themselves while “America the Beautiful” was sung in the background in nine different languages: English, Arabic, Hebrew, Hindi, Keres, Mandarin, Sengaslese-French, Spanish and Tagalog. What seemed to be a heartfelt ad about America’s citizens was interpreted in many different ways. Watching the ad, I knew that there was a potential for backlash, so I immediately went on Twitter to see what the overall reaction was. I was shocked to say the least. Thousands of people were attacking Coca-Cola via Twitter. Many of the tweets were about how if you live in America you should speak English. Some went as far as saying that “America the Beautiful” was sung in “terrorist languages.” Here are a few examples of the tweets that were sent to Coca-Cola’s twitter.

Coke’s reaction

What I was most surprised with was Coca-Cola’s response, or lack thereof. With many negative tweets, Facebook posts and threats to not buy their products, Coca-Cola has not responded to any of it. They have continued to promote their #AmericaIsBeautiful tag and have posted more tweets and Facebook articles featuring behind-the-scenes videos of the ad. I was wondering to myself, “Why are they not responding to all of these negative things?”

That’s when it hit me. Coca-Cola is promoting love in their ad; love for our country and for one another. It wouldn’t make sense for them to put out an ad filled with love and pride for our country and its citizens to then respond to the negativity. It says a lot to me about Coca-Cola as a company to promote such a positive message and to ignore the hate they arereceiving.  It takes a lot to stand by something when so many people disagree with it, but to me it shows that Coca-Cola really means what they say.

For more from Innovative PR, “like” us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter!

Photo credit: Coca-Cola Twitter

Making history at the Grammys

by Katie Johnson

Living with nearly 20 women can sometimes dictate what television shows that we watch. That means when last Sunday night arrived, there was a mad dash for the TV room, and choice was between the Bachelor’s Wedding and the 56th Grammy Awards. I was fortunate to get to the TV first, therefore I decide which program we would watch. This was a great privilege, however, I couldn’t decide between just one show. The logical decision was to flip between both programs and, luckily, we did not miss Macklemore and Ryan Lewis performing “Same Love” at the Grammys. This was a performance that would go down in history, according to some entertainment reporters.

An unprecedented event

Macklemore (5565434578)

Macklemore

 After a few moments, Macklemore and Lewis were joined on stage by Queen Latifah and Madonna. Nothing like this performance had ever been done in Grammy history; maybe even television history. As the “Same Love” song concluded, Queen Latifah acted as an officiate for 33 gay and straight couples who married. Once Latifah pronounced them newlyweds, Madonna began singing one of her earlier hits, “Open Your Heart.” At this time, the couples were shown dancing and crying with each other.

Social media backlash

Gays and lesbians have been allowed to marry in California since 2008, with 17 other states legalizing gay marriage. This didn’t stop the anti-gay comments from blowing up social media during the show. People opposed to gay marriage will continue to share their opinions about the performance, wedding, and the Grammys as a whole. For a show that lasted for three and a half hours and had a two-hour red carpet event before it began, it was still halted by the anti-gay social media feedback, simply for one performance. On one hand, it is great that technology has evolved so much so that people are able to submit their reactions about events as they occur. However, some people lose their voice when it comes to the comments published on social media. Unfortunately, when my friends were watching the Macklemore performance they immediately turned to Twitter to see the reactions before they shared their own opinions.

Critical thinking?

Twitter and other social platforms have a real influence on the way we perceive current events. Many of the tweets were negative, focusing on people’s opinions that gay marriage is an insult to God and the Church. When these opinions are shared, people take them at face value and can’t think critically to form their own opinions. People should understand the limitations of twitter and not rely simply on tweets by other individuals as their sole source of information.

For more from Innovative PR, “like” us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

What PR Folks are Thankful For

By Megan Maher

Thanksgiving Dinner (3065145964)It’s Thanksgiving and many of us will gather around the turkey (or tofurkey) with loved ones and friends to reflect on the things that we are truly thankful for. Many of the answers might be having food to eat, a roof over our heads, and being surrounded by loved ones. However, a question has to be asked… What are we thankful for as PR practitioners? Of course having family and friends who actually understand what PR is and what we do is a huge thing to be thankful for in our field (and no, it’s not hiring and firing people), but what about the things that help keep us sane and make our jobs run smoothly?

What We’re Thankful For!

We dug deep, racked our brains in search of the answers, and came up with is a list of nine things that every PR practitioner should be thankful for this year:

  1. We’re thankful for social media and all of the analytics-related tools that help us measure it. Social media continues to bring us more and more ways to stay connected to our publics and stay informed.
  2. Our AP Style Book is huge. Anytime we’re in a stylistic jam we can refer to it for help.
  3. Our peers provide an extra set of eyes to edit our work and an extra brain when ours, seemingly, ceases to function. It’s always good to have a friend edit our work and keep us on top of things.
  4. We mustn’t forget smartphones for keeping us connected to everyone and everything. The computerized personal assistants and all of their apps keep us in check.
  5. But then again, we are secretly thankful for the times we don’t have cellphone service. It’s nice when we’re able to escape from the technological world and enjoy an ever-so-brief moment of solitude.
  6. We’re thankful for Google Drive, Calendar, Hangouts, Alerts–okay… everything Google! How did we even function before it? Seriously, how was it possible?
  7. IT and computer savvy people are there to tell us to put the monitor down and that throwing our computer across the room is not the answer for a faulty machine. Without their help, there would be a lot more computer casualties.
  8. Photographers, graphic designers, and videographers help us bring our creative visions to life.
  9. And last but not least, we’re thankful for coffee, coffee, and more coffee. It’s always there to wake us up and keep us going. Let’s face it, deadlines can seem close to unbearable without a cup, or 10, of joe.

Enjoy your holiday!

Have any that you’ll be adding to your list this year? Let us know! Happy Thanksgiving from the Innovative PR team. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Pinterest, and “like” us on Facebook.

Resume Tips for PR Students

By Jeremy Noble

resumepicHaving a solid and effective resume can greatly improve your chances of landing that dream job. However, not many people know what information to include on a resume. For a person looking for a job in public relations or the communications field, relevant skills are valuable to the job searching process. Having the skills to construct an outstanding resume provides the applicant the opportunity to showcase their skills to the employer.

What to include in your resume

  1. List relevant experience you have that applies to the job you are applying for. When listing previous job experience it’s important to research the prospective company and figure out the duties and responsibilities of the position you are applying for. Then it is beneficial to list your experience that excels in that area.
  2. Decide whether your resume is functional or chronological. A functional resume focuses on your skills and experience, rather than on your chronological work history. A chronological resume lists your most recent position first then your others in reverse chronological order.
  3. Include an objective statement that shows how you can benefit a company. Make sure your objective statement highlights your skills and experience to show how much of an asset you are.
  4. Include links to your LinkedIn and other social networking profiles. Employers are going to do an extensive search of your social networking profiles before scheduling an interview. Linking your LinkedIn account will provide them with easy access to your profile.
  5. Include keywords that stand out to the employer. Using communication terms such as target audience or third-party endorsement is a way to stand out to potential employers.

What not to include in your resume

  1. An unprofessional email address. Be professional with your email account, it is recommended to use your first and last name.
  2. A lengthy gap in employment. Showing a lengthy gap in employment is a negative sign. If you have a major gap in employment, make sure you have reason.
  3. Don’t be overly creative with the resume format. Many organizations have automated resume systems, and special formatting sometimes will make a resume unreadable.
  4. Don’t use fancy fonts that become difficult to read. Don’t go crazy with the fonts. Though it may look beautiful on your end, if the recipient doesn’t have the same font on their computer, it can get ugly real fast.
  5. Don’t include your high school education. If you’re in college, it is more than safe to assume you graduated from high school.

An employer sees a countless number of resumes for a job listing. Having a resume that stands out is important to landing the first interview.

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