Tagged: #PRBlog

The Importance of Hello

By: Rachel Schultz

“A potential friend (connection), is only a hello away” – Paul Liebau, Canadian Best-Selling Author

I remember when I was a sophomore in college, there was this tall, dark-haired man who visited my track practices. Drew was a 32-year-old man who had an attention-getting smile. After many random appearances, I began to talk to Drew. I learned that he graduated from the same program I am currently enrolled in, and became a two time All-American in track and field, all while raising two kids.

A year passed and the regular drop-by visits continued. I was always eager to say “hello” and be the first to greet Drew. As fellow public relation enthusiasts, this gave us the chance to network. Yes, even at a track practice.
Before we knew it, my junior year of college finally arrived. Public relations students at the University of Central Missouri are required to complete at least one internship before graduation. Drew was already familiar with this process. One of our typical chats resulted in me landing an interview for an internship the very next morning. This was perfect timing and Drew opening the door for me was all because I was the athlete who always greeted him with a hello.
Throughout my internship, I expanded my knowledge in many different areas. Specifically, the art of communication & networking (two areas where Drew truly excels). By attending large events and maintaining open conversations in the office, I have yet to regret a hello. The joy I find in greeting others is priceless and the benefits are endless. The biggest lesson I have learned throughout my coursework and experiences is to never be afraid to speak to anyone. There is a surprising power in hello.
The purpose of this blog is to showcase the importance of the word hello. As communication and business professionals, we should all be eager to greet others, strangers or friends. Hello serves as a greeting, not a conversation. Yes, it may lead to a conversation but what exactly is the harm in that?

Somehow it has become socially okay to ignore others when passing by. It seems we are now in an age where people would rather avoid eye contact, just because they may have to speak to someone…why?
There appears to be a major disconnect in thinking that simple things are unimportant things.

There are endless opportunities in this world and by simply being personable to others, it could truly open doors for you. Sure, we all get anxious sometimes. Sure, we all aren’t a “people person.” Sure, our mothers told us not to talk to strangers. However, didn’t our mothers also encourage us to step out of our comfort zones?

This simple word is not an overused and unimportant gesture. It is an often underappreciated greeting. Hello is a sign of respect. A sign of being friendly. A sign that you acknowledge someone’s existence.

If I told you saying “hello” could earn you your first dream job, would you do it?

Lights, Camera, Action: Video Conversions in 2021

The game has changed. Written material is on its way out and its replacement? Video content. With the numbers on its side, it’s no surprise people prefer this fresher form of content over its older, outdated counterpart. Keep reading to see why and how you can take advantage of this movement before it’s too late.


Why such a shift to video?
So what’s so great about video content? Well, the reasoning has to do with its ability to captivate an audience on two playing fields. Where text only has the ability to capture our attention via visuals and is forced to rely heavily on punctuation, word choice and visual cues to convey a message, video has the ability to appeal both visually and auditorily. Although adding sound and movement may seem like a minor shift, according to Medium, an average viewer is able to remember 95% of a message when it is watched, whereas only 10% when read. This huge margin of retention rate plays a significant role in this shift to video, but it isn’t the only reason.
According to a study shared on Wyzowl, the average attention span of an individual has significantly dropped. What was once 15 seconds has now dwindled down to a measly 8.25. Dwindling attention spans have been recognized already by ad agencies across the world causing 77% of them to view video ads as an essential business moving forward into this digital era. As new technologies emerge, the more options advertisers will have when it comes to video advertising.


How can I apply this?
Video campaigns aren’t going anywhere, so how can you effectively apply them to your business? There are many platforms where video campaigns can be utilized, but this list highlights the best of the best and goes over ways to truly optimize both your campaign and your viewer’s experience.

YouTube
With 2.3 billion users per month and $19.7 billion in revenue in 2020, according to BusinessOfApps, Youtube is the front runner of this evolving marketing tactic. Both creating original content for YouTube and running video advertisements are effective ways to expand your consumer reach and brand awareness via video campaigns.

A. Original Content – Creating original content is already a difficult enough task for most, however, properly optimizing your content is another beast. Detailed below is a list of tactics you can use to take full advantage of what YouTube has to offer in regard to future video campaigns.

a. Promote Interaction – At the end of each video invoke the viewer to do something. A simple “Click here to learn more” hyperlink can do the trick and, depending on your goal, can be adapted to virtually anything. Notifications, such as cards, should also be used throughout the video to promote interaction as
well as hold viewers’ attention.


b. Visuals, Visuals, Visuals – One of the key components to optimizing your YouTube
videos is to have an eye-catching thumbnail. According to a study done by BestSeoCompanies, “88% of thumbnails


c. Promote Subscriptions – Obviously the more subscribers you obtain the better, so simply reminding viewers at the end of your videos to subscribe, and supplying a hyperlink to do so, creates the opportunity to increase your following.


d. Partner Up – Collaboration promotes a synergistic outcome for both parties and allows new horizons to be introduced via new viewers. Partnering with companies or individuals with similar personalities and audiences leads to the best outcomes for both parties.


B. Advertisements – YouTube offers a wide selection of ads for advertisers to choose from. Each ad choice depends on the budget and goal of the advertisement so it’s important to consider how you want to reach and impact viewers.
in 2020 were colorful and averaged more views than thumbnails with a more
minimalist color scheme.”


a. Skippable In-Stream Ads (TrueView Ads) – Because they can be skipped, it’s critical these ads grab and hold the viewer’s attention while still informing them about your product or service. These ads can vary in length from as short as 12 seconds to as long as 3 minutes. Payment for the ad only occurs if the viewer interacts with it or watches more than 30 seconds of it.


b. Un-skippable In-Stream Ads (Pre-Roll Ads) – Up to 15 seconds long, these advertisements offer a great way to quickly promote a brand. A call to action is important in order to generate more leads to a website. Bumper ads are another form of un-skippable in-stream ads that are six seconds long and could leave viewers interested in learning more.


c. Video Ad Sequencing – This more extensive type of ad allows advertisers to tell a story through a series of videos strung throughout one or multiple YouTube videos. This type of storytelling often leads to more engagement from the viewer. According to AdPresso, this type of advertisement has been shown to produce a 107% higher ad recall and a 134% higher purchase intent when compared to the other types of ads.


d. Youtube Ad Extensions – Ad extensions offer a call to action, usually in the form of a “Learn More” banner alongside a video ad. By implementing this, you offer a simple way for the viewer to learn more about your product or service. This type of ad generally leads to more interaction from viewers due to its simplicity.

TikTok
analyzed from the most popular videosDespite its relatively new conception, TikTok has become one of the most regularly used and visited social networks of this generation. With over 1 billion active users per month, according to WallroomMedia, TikTok is also one of the fastest-growing social channels this decade. Brands on TikTok can easily blend in with every other creator on the app which, in turn, helps with brand exposure. Videos highlighting important elements of an organization’s product/service while remaining consistent with trends on TikTok are the most effective in creating exposure.

Instagram Reels
Similar to that of TikTok, Instagram Reels can be used to create a variety of content strategies. By properly applying Instagram Reels, a brand has the ability to diversify its Instagram posts, leading to not only more impressions, but new ones, expanding brand awareness. IG Reels can be used as a “bridge” to your Instagram profile, ultimately leading a potential consumer to your homepage.

Twitter
With a video length limit of 2 minutes and 20 seconds and a daily user base of 166 million, according to Hootsuite, the proper application of Twitter’s video capability has the potential to greatly increase brand awareness. Twitter’s latest update also included the addition of “Fleets.” Similar to that of both TikTok and Instagram Reels, Fleets allows the user to post short videos that are then placed at the top of your follower’s feed. This addition can be used to highlight important dates, upcoming releases or sneak peeks in regards to your brand.

Research is Boring, Time-Consuming and Absolutely Critical to Your Success

By: Ashleigh Horn

Research is the key to all successful public relations strategy. It is the defining factor in how we choose to tell our client’s story and helps us identify how our target audiences will react—long before they are ever exposed to any messaging.

But why is research crucial? How can it single-handedly define the effectiveness of our PR efforts? Isn’t research a little bit…old school?

No! Before I continue any further, I would like to emphasize that research is not old school. Call me a nerd for thinking it’s cool, but you actually need it to be successful in this industry. Here is why:

Beyond identifying an objective, research is the first step in defining what steps should be taken to solve a problem. A need may be increasing brand awareness, avoiding a crisis, or launching a campaign. The list is endless. However, used strategically, research can be conducted to meet needs, elevate your client’s brand and create lasting mutually beneficial relationships.

On the other hand, failure to conduct research may lead to indecision, inaction or financial loss. It may also make identifying key publics and their needs difficult. In many cases, actions taken without sufficient knowledge about who or what they will impact can even lead to tarnishing your brand’s overall image.

One brand whose reputation was tarnished because of its failure to conduct any research was Digorno. In 2014, the frozen pizza brand received major backlash for inappropriately using a trending Twitter hashtag to advertise its product.  The company’s Tweet, “#WhyIStayed You had pizza” was ill-received by Twitter users who were disgusted that the company would poke fun at domestic violence to encourage pizza sales. 

The company could have avoided the situation altogether by researching the nature of the hashtag before Tweeting. While research may frontload your efforts, it helps prevent mistakes later on. Doing so allows you to preserve your brand and may even save you money.

I will be the first to admit that research is not always sexy. In fact, anyone who has taken University of Central Missouri’s PR 3605: Survey of PR Research & Theory with Dr. Tricia Hansen-Horn knows that research can be tedious and seemingly mundane at times. However, it can also be exciting and provide key insights that will make decision making easier down the road.

Research allows us to strategically gauge information about our key publics. It helps us identify possible reactions and outcomes of our efforts and avoid unnecessary costs. It also equips us with the tools to measure the impact of our efforts from the get-go. At the end of the day, it takes out the guesswork and lays a solid foundation from which you can build—without fear of total failure.

You may be thinking, “Gee, that sounds great. However, I have no experience conducting research. I would never know where to begin.”

But you do!

May I ask if you have ever had a friend tell you that they have begun to develop feelings for someone? If you are like me, this small piece of information often triggers Sherlock-Holmes mode. Within the next hour you have scoured up a list of their hobbies, identified their grandmother’s name, and searched through all of the accounts they follow on Instagram.

Does this activity sound familiar? Don’t lie, I know you have done it too.

Curiosity is in our nature and whether we recognize it or not, we conduct research  every day. We care about our friend and use research to ensure that the one who has them so smitten is actually right for them.

But where should you start?

Certainly there are methods to help guide how we research. However, there is no set protocol for how it should be conducted, especially in PR as we deal with all things human. I advise formulating one single question and allowing your curiosity to fuel any questions and quests for answers that follow.

You may think research is boring. It’s not! It is a vital element in the daily life of a PR pro. Ask questions, find the answers, then ask more questions that lead you to solid strategy and valuable decision-making.

Staying Connected: How to Network Like a Pro

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.

Resources

https://www.forbes.com/sites/biancamillercole/2019/03/20/why-networking-should-be-at-the-core-of-your-career/?sh=1c2d1e181300

https://www.michaelpage.com.au/advice/career-advice/career-progression/benefits-networking

https://www.topresume.com/career-advice/importance-of-networking-for-career-success

How COVID-19 is Causing Event Planning Evolution

By: April Wood

I hate to begin a blog post by talking about how COVID-19 has changed the communication industry, but to write a blog about “normal times” feels disingenuous. Public relations and other communication departments are rapidly adapting to communicating at a time of uncertainty and illness. A particularly challenging aspect of public relations during the pandemic has become apparent to me in the last few months: event planning. All of the relevant skills remain, and a new set of often unintuitive skills is becoming necessary for many event planners.  

As Important as Ever

  1. Writing and Design – The tone of writing you use and the style of design you implement depends on your audience. These are foundations of public relations. Writing and design will always be necessary skills in this field, even and especially in event planning. If you do not communicate your event and its intentions well, no one will participate. 
  2. Contingency Planning and Being Flexible – It is inevitable that something will go wrong the day of your event. Take time BEFORE the event to create a list of things that might possibly go awry and devise a contingency plan for each of them. If and when something doesn’t go as expected, you have a solid plan for how to handle it that can be tailored to fit the issue perfectly. A crisis that could spiral out of control is stopped with minimal damages. 
  3. Organization – Planning for a virtual event still requires careful organization using traditional event-planning measures. Guest lists need to be compiled, invitations sent out, registration organized, plans established and executed, and so much more. Do not assume that you can just hop in on a call and your event will go off without a hitch. That would be like assuming that if you give everyone a time and place to meet that the event will just happen naturally. “Planning” that way will only lead to disaster. 
  4. Event Scripting – I’ll admit that this one is more of a grey area. It is an old skill applied in a new way. Usually, you would have an itinerary in the program you hand out at the event that outlines the order of events, in addition to a more in-depth one that lays out the timeframe of each section of the event. When live video enters the mix, however, it gets a bit more complicated. Depending on the type of event,  you may want to play a number of videos, present a PowerPoint, and also have some live content. Your files need to be clearly named and ordered and a script should be developed to tell you exactly what order they are played and at what times. Delays in getting videos or presentations started will delay your whole event and throw off the schedule for the night. 

Skills of Emerging Necessity 

  1. An In-depth Knowledge of Your Broadcasting Program of Choice – The program you choose to host your meeting is a critical component of the event-planning process. It is like selecting your venue and support staff for an in-person event. Choose one that you are familiar with, has a good reputation, and is user-friendly. If you are not particularly adept at technology, take an online course on the program or try it out in advance to experiment and get comfortable with its use. Take the time to learn the program and host a dry-run with your fellow planners to locate any potential problems and resolve them before the event. 
  2. Troubleshooting – Be prepared to handle technical difficulties if they arise the day of the event. These problems will likely be both on the host’s side and on the virtual attendees’ side. This means doing research beforehand on possible technical issues and their solutions as well as having someone available on event day to monitor the chat, email, and social media pages for attendees who may report issues. They can only be swiftly resolved if they are swiftly identified. When it comes to event planning, today’s public relations professionals must  learn how to provide technical support in addition to their usual skills.

This is clearly not a comprehensive list – I’ll leave that for the academics -, but it serves to give you a realistic picture of what you can expect to undertake in order to get your event off the ground. 

Girl Scout Tweet: Political or Patterned?

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. 

Differentiating Public Relations from Similar Industries

By: Rebeka Dickerson

Public relations is often confused by the general public with many other industries, but specifically marketing and advertising. The three are so similar that they are even commonly integrated these days. And then there is journalism which is frequently mentioned in the PR world as well. So, to help provide a better understanding of these four important communication mediums, I am providing some information below about what makes each unique. 

Public Relations

Public relations is all about awareness and reputation. Awareness and reputation can in turn help a company sell products or become successful. PR deals with the long game; keeping customers coming back and obtaining new loyal customers. 

An example of PR is the #IceBucketChallenge. The 2014 viral campaign raised awareness for ALS by inspiring people to post videos of themselves being drenched by a bucket of ice water and/or donating for ALS research. Many celebrities participated and over $115 million dollars was raised for the ALS Association.  

Marketing

Marketing is a technique for stimulating a demand for a specific product or service. The main goals are to make a product or service widely known and to increase sales. The transaction of something in the moment matters more than what will happen with the company in two or three years. Professionals in this industry often refer to product, price, place, and promotion as the four Ps of marketing needed to sell goods or services. 

An example of marketing is Spotify and how it is is marketed differently than other music applications. Spotify assists users in finding music they have never heard before. Users can click any category of music and explore a multitude of artists. Spotify also sorts music options by music someone may want to workout to, sleep to, or even play video games to. 

Advertising

Advertising is a paid message. It is a part of marketing (promotion). It can also be part of a public relations campaign. An advertisement could be a television commercial, but it could also be a print ad,  digital ad, radio ad, billboard, and so on. 

Examples of companies that are known to continuously use ads to their advantage are Geico, Ford, and Nike. 

Journalism

While public relations has a target audience, journalism does (or should) not. Journalism’s purpose is to simply inform the general public in an objective way. A PR professional’s job is to advocate for a specific company or individual, while a journalist is traditionally meant to remain unbiased. 

Examples of Journalism can vary. The many types include broadcast, investigative, opinion, entertainment, political, and sports. 

A Couple Examples of Integration

  • Coca-Cola: 

As part of its brand awareness strategy, Coca-Cola has combined PR and journalism by utilizing storytelling on its website (https://www.coca-colacompany.com/). This is also known as brand journalism. Stories on the website detail how the company supports the community, how they promote diversity and inclusion, and how they help the environment.

  • Always:

The brand Always has an ongoing PR campaign #LikeAGirl, which encourages people to change the meaning of the phrase and how society views girls and women. A popular Super Bowl advertisement was created to promote the campaign in 2015 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_Ep0O5fWN4). 

So although similar, all four of these industries definitely have their own place. They each have their own distinct objectives. Yet they all work with the public in mind, and any of them can be combined strategically to create even greater success.

Public Relations in the Age of Cancel Culture

By: Rebeka Dickerson

Public relations is a fairly new profession compared to other jobs, first being established in the 1920s. However, it is more important now than ever. Why is that? The issues of this world are on full display and people are paying attention to every step organizations and individuals make. Additionally, cancel culture is especially prevalent. 

A term we are hearing more frequently in the PR world, cancel culture, is “the popular practice of withdrawing support for (canceling) public figures and companies after they have done or said something considered objectionable or offensive.” 

With social media, it is much easier for anything someone does “wrong” to be scrutinized on a worldwide scale. This is why organizations must understand their audiences and the topics/issues they care about. Organizations must find a way to incorporate those topics in a way that will not backfire, which can be easier said than done. 

There are countless examples of attempts that were made to resonate with an audience that ended up backfiring. One of the most well-known ones, though, was when Pepsi and Kendall Jenner teamed up to create a commercial meant to promote peace and unity, but that came off completely tone deaf (https://www.nbcnews.com/news/nbcblk/pepsi-ad-kendall-jenner-echoes-black-lives-matter-sparks-anger-n742811) . More recently, Nike sold out of Kobe Bryant merchandise, frustrating people who thought they did not honor him, but instead attempted to profit off of his death (https://www.silverscreenandroll.com/2020/8/24/21399059/nike-kobe-bryant-shoes-limited-snkrs-drop-lakers-resellers-jerseys-mamba-day/comment/530751649). 

Clearly, citing these examples, it is crucial for plans to be made and extreme care to be put into everything that is placed online and offline. Even something that is meant to come across as a positive statement or message can be completely misconstrued, and your organization could be put in a position no organization wants to be in. 

So, to have a trained professional involved in every part of the public relations process certainly cannot hurt. Organizations need someone with a keen eye who will speak up when even the smallest of details seems off. Any concerns the public has should be responded to as soon as possible, and in an empathetic manner. Lying or attempting to hide a mistake will not be accepted. 

Although public relations may not be one of the most effortless jobs in our current times, it is a job that is needed  in today’s environment. Once one person is distressed about something your company did or put out, you should be prepared for many more to follow. People are smart and they have high expectations. It is now the company/individual and PR professional’s job to meet those expectations.