By: Emily Schaper
Being a Part of the Table
We’ve all been part of a conversation where we have no idea what is being talked about. It sets you apart from others and can become difficult to get to know more people. When it comes to global issues, reading the news or checking the media every day can set yourself a spot at the table. Plus, if you know about what’s going on in the world, you can start up a conversation about almost anything.
How to Get Started
There are so many amazing websites that will send the news to your email every morning. It doesn’t take any time at all to be up to date with what’s happening around you. All you do is enter in your address and the top stories for each day will be sent straight to you. Some beneficial websites include:
Why It’s Important
The news is important for a number of reasons within society. Not only does it inform the public about events, but it connects everyone together. Plus, if you’re interested in Public Relations, the news should already be of importance to you. Continuing on, the media can be broken down locally, nationally, and internationally.
- Local: News from a local area helps advise people about activities that may have an impact on the community. Decisions can be determined and people can be brought together
- National: When news becomes more of interest, it will have a broader perspective. This can become tricky because of the differing time zones. However, it can be of value to know the situations of other cities and towns
- International: When it comes to the global economy, news from other countries becomes vastly important. It gives us a sense of other perspectives and lifestyles/cultural differences
As a Public Relations major, my professors would always tell the class, you never want to be the last to know about anything. If you’re not up to date about what’s happening around you, you probably need to find a new job or area of interest. If you ever want to lock in a seat at the C-Suite Table, you’ll need to define your role, show your ability to think strategically, elevate your game, and act like you belong there. All of these can be achieved by reading the news every single day and knowing what’s happening around you.
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.
I get excited when Thursday comes around. It’s the day when I get to meet with the entire Innovative Public Relations team. Before the meeting starts, we all grab coffee, then head to the University Relations conference room. We start off by quickly talking about something fun, maybe share a few anecdotes, and then it’s time for business.
There are two teams, each focusing on one client, and together the teams are preparing another Social Media Night. They update each other on their campaigns’ progress and talk about things they can improve on or change. Then it’s time to brainstorm. Though Social Media Night was a huge success last year, it’s important to me that this years’ team leave their mark on the event, or else they won’t get anything out of it.
That’s what Innovative PR is all about. It’s an opportunity to get outside the classroom and apply your skills in real-world situations with real clients (and maybe win some awards while you’re at it). Students take everything they’ve learned in their PR classes and use them. What comes from the experience is a payoff you can’t get from reading and taking tests. You might also gain some knowledge that will make Campaigns a little less intimidating.
As the manager, it’s a focus of mine to find what students think their strengths and weaknesses are. If they struggle with writing, I try to find opportunities to write. If they struggle with presentations, I want to find them opportunities to do presentations. If they don’t quite understand how social media works, I want to get them some experience on various social networks. No matter what the challenge is, Innovative PR students are get practice because they’re exposed to just about everything.
For some, applying to Innovative PR is intimidating. They might feel as though an easier elective is a better investment of their time, or maybe they aren’t confident enough to apply. I was certainly one of those students who was intimidated by the idea of working in a firm as a student, but again, the payoff for me was great.
Don’t feel intimidated. This is an opportunity for your skills to improve. Go to the PR Suite, grab an application, and do the case challenge. You’ll find yourself in a “course” that is challenging, yes, but pays awesome dividends. The expectations are high, but they aren’t unreachable. Do something different. Have fun working with clients. Hone your skills. Boost your marketability.
– Jonathan Haile
Innovative Public Relations Manager