By: Armani Shumpert
Hashtags are important for success in supporting social media content. Appearing as a keyword or phrase with no spaces with the # (pound) symbol at the front of it, the hashtag is a way to make material easy to find, at least when used correctly.
Hashtags have been widely used on Twitter, but they are now popular on other social media platforms sites such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. Understanding the difference in these platforms and how to use hashtags effectively is a great way for you to maximize your engagement with your followers.
While a hashtag seems easy to place before keywords, some other specifics are important to note as you try to reap the greatest benefits of using hashtags. Here are some tips for general purposes:
- Keep hashtags brief and unforgettable rather than attempting to include a variety of words with one tag.
- Try not to pressure any post with hashtags. Use them only if they add importance to your post and are likely to encourage dialog and discussion
- Do not overuse hashtags. The number of hashtags you use depends on which platform you are using, but in most cases, one or two hashtags work better than many.
- The use of descriptive and unique hashtags can yield better results than widespread or generic ones.
Using hashtags is not a one-size-fits-all proposition that is the same for all social media. Here are a few ideas about how hashtags on specific social media platforms can be used properly.
Use Hashtags on Instagram
When it comes to Instagram, using more hashtags will lead to more engagement. Use up to 10 or 11 relevant and popular hashtags on this platform to get the most out of it. You probably do not need to use too many of them, but it is good to know that using more is good here, so you can experiment with what works for you.
Use the search box to see which hashtags are used by influencers or competition. Since this is the best forum for many hashtags, try various hashtags. For blogs, videos, and comments, use them.
Use Hashtags on Twitter
Using the appropriate Twitter hashtags will boost your participation. One or two hashtags on a tweet should be enough. If you use a few hashtags and explicitly ask your followers to retweet, this may result in more engagement.
Using Twitter hashtags can make your post available as people search for your tag. It can also help you locate conversations to get involved. To have even more effect on this forum, research hashtags are trending. Twitonomy is a good method specifically for studying Twitter patterns.
Use Hashtags of LinkedIN
On LinkedIn, people have not always stressed the use of hashtags, but they function on this site in the same way as any of the other social media sites. Using a couple of hashtags on your post if you are posting long-form material on LinkedIn. LinkedIn typically recommends one or three hashtags.
You can get your alerts outside of your network by using hashtags on LinkedIn. It is a perfect way to raise awareness about the brand.
The use of hashtags is an excellent tool for interacting with your followers as well as increasing interaction and attracting new target audiences. To be effective please keep in mind the social media platform you are using and best practices for best results.
By 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
Searching for a job can be overwhelming, no matter what stage of your career you are in.
“Where do I start? Do I have what it takes to find a good job? How can I set myself up for success? How am I supposed to find a job if I am not sure what I want to do?”
If you’re anything like me, you may have asked yourself these questions. Thankfully, there are many experienced professionals who are happy to share tips and tricks with you. Whether you are entering the job market for the first time or considering changing career paths, there are a few steps you can take to set yourself up for success.
First, know your why. As a public relations professional, you have probably heard this phrase a hundred times. It may seem cliche, but it is important to understand why you are in the public relations field. It may be because you are a talented writer, a big thinker, passionate about helping others, or a variety of other reasons. No matter what it is, it is important to establish your personal why to figure out what motivates you to succeed. Knowing this will allow you to continue to grow personally and professionally. At the end of the day, you are your most important client.
Once you have established your why, it is important to find a company that is a good fit for you. While a job is a job, it is a great benefit to work for a company that you enjoy. Research companies and learn about their values and corporate culture. It is important that a company is a good fit for you on both a professional and personal level, and if you’re the right fit for them.
Another important step after establishing your why is to take a leap. No matter the size of your professional network, ask those you have connections with about potential opportunities. They may not have a position open within their organization, but more often than not, they will pass on your information to other professionals. Not only does this expand your network, but you might be presented with an opportunity you did not know about. In the past year searching for internships and full-time positions, I have learned that you will never know if you do not ask! The worst thing that can happen is someone will say “no”.
While I have learned countless things during my time in college, I have discovered that everything works out in time. No matter what stage you are at in your education and career, the things happening right now will all work out in the end and it will be okay, if you work hard, stay
focused and maintain a positive attitude. While it may be hard to believe at this time, you will realize it is true ten years from now as you reflect on the past.
As you search for jobs, keep these tips in mind. If you become overwhelmed, remember your why and continue to work hard. A positive attitude and strong work ethic will help you succeed in the job market, no matter what challenge you face.
By: Myah Duncan
“Your personal brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” -Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon
Actively branding yourself via social media can go a lot further than a resume and cover letter when it comes to getting a first internship or job. It can also keep you from getting that internship or job. Employers never hesitate to do a quick Google search to see how a potential employee represents him/herself online, in fact, according to CareerBuilder, more than 70% of employers check a candidate’s social media content BEFORE deciding to hire. So ask yourself, do you want what you are posting to be seen by a potential employer? Do you think you’d get that internship you want so badly? As a college student, this is the best time to clean up your social media and build your online personal brand in a way that benefits you.
It is easy to get caught up in the moment and post every picture that you take to your social media accounts. But do you really want your future employer to see the wild time you had when drinking last Thursday night on Pine Street? You don’t want them to see it just as much as they don’t want to see it. They want to make sure you know how to act professionally when in public. So, the first lesson is, don’t post that picture. But if you have, this is the perfect time to start going through all those photos on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter that may not shine that professional light. Delete them from your social channels, but you can keep them if you save them on your laptop, make a scrapbook, or do whatever feels right. But do not leave them on there for the world to see. Oh, and don’t forget to ask friends to delete questionable images of you from their own feeds. It’s time to draw that line between personal and professional life. You can still post fun experiences, but you have to make sure it’s strategically fun content.
The content that you put out on your social media accounts does not necessarily have to be all about business and links to different articles. It is still important to be yourself via your own channels; it’s like a portfolio of who you are. First, focus on your grammar and spelling. This is an easy way to represent your writing ability. It’s a huge red flag if all of your posts have many errors in them. Take time to read through your posts and delete or edit those posts that do have errors. Second, carefully evaluate the images you want to post. Ask, what do they say to others about my professionalism? My choices? My values?
Leaving the lasting impression
Just like after meeting a professional in person, those who engage with you via social media want to remember who you are and have a solid impression of the type of person you are. You want your social media to leave a positive lasting impression on a professional who views it. Actively cleaning and crafting now will help you leave a good impression.
By putting the time and effort into your social media you are giving professionals or anyone who views your page a well-rounded peek into your life. Don’t let inappropriate social media end your chances of landing the job.
Salm, L. (n.d.). 70% of employers are snooping candidates’ social media profiles. Retrieved October 4, 2019, from https://www.careerbuilder.com/advice/social-media-survey-2017.
Tips for Building Your Personal Brand. (2019, June 14). Retrieved from https://www.northeastern.edu/graduate/blog/tips-for-building-your-personal-brand/.
By: Shelby Bueneman
This summer I was fortunate enough to get an inside look into the life of a blogging influencer. Getting a behind-the-scenes look into how the blog runs, different events that the blogger is invited to, and the creation of pieces after event attendance was eye opening. Influencers are on the rise and they can be beneficial to public relations professionals through their outreach, honesty, trust and mutual benefits that exist between blogger and clients.
Influencers can have a big outreach or a small one. The influencer you choose depends on what audience you want to reach. The blogger I worked for had a small outreach, with followings of one thousand or less. Based in Kansas City, she had a strategic way of connecting personally with audiences. Her posts and blogs were pointed toward the interests of those who were from Kansas City and those who wanted to visit. Because she intentionally solicited a smaller outreach, she could make posts and promotions seem more personable and real. She talked about things her audiences knew about or had experienced themselves. She had a lot of clients and they all wanted to reach Kansas City folks. So, it’s clear that to reach your exact target audience you need to find the right influencer. There are many different bloggers ranging from lifestyle, entertainment, fashion, DIY’s, and so many more. Once you find the right one, it is as simple as reaching out to them with the right pitch. They are always looking for their next blog and more events to attend.
One thing that I found stimulating was that influencers want to be honest with their audiences. As a consumer it’s easy to think that they are only saying a product works or that an event was great because of the deal they have. That is not the case. Just like public relations professionals, they are looking to gain trust with their audiences. The amount of research they put into their blogs to make sure they have all the relevant facts is notable. Honesty is one of their main concerns; if they are dishonest with their audiences, they lose their credibility. Credibility gets and keeps clients. This leads into the third benefit, trust.
Honesty and trust are intertwined. Without honesty there can be no trust. Influencers that are labeled as the everyday person are seen as the most trustworthy in the consumer’s eyes. Business 2 Community talks about how over ninety percent of consumers trust people within their network. Generally, the larger a blogger’s reach, the more celebrity status that influencer holds. If you choose a mainstream celebrity as your influencer, your product or event may not be perceived as authentic because it’s most likely that money changed hands. When you choose an influencer with a smaller outreach, you find the audience that has the most trust. This benefits your brand through the relatability to influencer holds with audiences. Working with the correct influencer can help your brand to stand out against the competition.
Partnering with a blogger is mutually beneficial. By promoting for a public relations professional, the influencer is creating more content and catching the eye of more consumers. This can generate more engagement for both the influencer and the professional. Working with an influencer as a company allows you to be seen in a more positive light and gives you more organic engagement with potential customers.
by Evan Whittaker
As you may know, the academic Public Relations Program at the University of Central Missouri recently found its new home in the Harmon College of Business and Professional Studies. In previous years, the PR Program has been part of the Communications Department for rather obvious reasons; PR focuses heavily on communication. So, considering the recent move to the business college, does PR really have an important place in a business environment?
In a word: absolutely.
Public relations can serve numerous valuable purposes in any business. Here are a few examples:
Connecting with consumers
This is perhaps the most obvious answer. One of the primary goals of public relations is to ensure that the messages an organization sends to its publics (and vice versa) are strategically distributed and meaningfully understood. When considering the goals of a business, the benefits of PR become readily apparent.
In essence, a business aims to create value for shareholders by providing products or services to consumers. Public relations professionals can craft strategic, targeted messages for the business to attract and retain those consumers. In addition, PR pros can ensure that the business has a clear understanding of its consumers and is receiving clear messages from them. This can help the business to refine and expand its offerings, thereby creating a mutually beneficial relationship.
PR in management
Public relations also can be extremely useful in communicating with a business’s internal publics, such as employees. If you take a minute to read how PRSA defines public relations, you’ll see the phrase “management function” appears several times. That’s because the knowledge and training public relations professionals receive in the areas of organizational communication, strategic messaging and audience analysis all prove extremely beneficial for business managers.
A key element of executive leadership is the ability to communicate effectively with employees, and arguably PR professionals are among the highest skilled individuals when it comes to crafting effective messages that maximize understanding. By facilitating clear and meaningful communication between management staff and employees, PR pros can help to create a positive and constructive work environment.
Investors often play a vital role in a business’ success. Their investments add value to the business and provide it with the opportunity to grow. This undoubtedly designates investors as an important public for virtually every professional organization.
Often, the struggle for businesses regarding investors is not only to attract new prospects, but also to retain those who have already invested. A PR professional can be a valuable asset for a business’s investor relations program because, although the investors’ interest is often primarily focused on financial information, public relations practitioners are highly skilled in communicating strategic messages to specific audiences. This means that input from a PR pro regarding the best ways to convey this information can be the difference between attracting/retaining investors and a missed opportunity to expand.
These are just a few examples of the numerous public relations functions that can benefit nearly any business. The relocation of UCM’s PR Program to the Harmon College of Business and Professional Studies signifies a growing trend, as business-minded professionals are beginning to acknowledge and support the benefits PR can bring to the table.
by Nikki Carpenter
For public relations students like myself, there is not an experience quite like Innovative Public Relations. To be honest, I did not know what I was getting into when I joined IPR. I had no idea what projects I would be assigned to, who would be on my team, and the skills I would quickly develop. The only thing I had to compare it to was a sports internship from over the summer.
In August, my team learned that we would be collaborating with the firm’s first off-campus client. Larry Schnieders, a retired corporate executive and UCM PR alumnus, wanted to share a story connecting two Kansas City high schools that have been housed at the same location. Both of the schools and their students prospered when all odds were against them.
The focus of our campaign is to utilize a crowdfunding platform to acquire the funds necessary for the shooting and editing of the film. As specialists with marginal knowledge of this unique fundraising technique, we found ourselves spending our time researching everything possible. From tips to statistics to looking at successful pages, we quickly developed a strategic approach in order to raise the necessary funds.
In partnership with Through A Glass Productions, “Together We’re Stronger” revisits the extraordinary story of Bishop Lillis High’s unexpected Missouri basketball state title in 1961. The team consisted of transfer students and a first-year coach. The film will have interviews of the players and coach of this team, who have gone on to be successful. One player was twice-elected mayor of Omaha, Nebraska. Another went on to win a gold medal at the Olympics.
The documentary will also follow Lillis’ legacy through the building’s current tenant, DeLaSalle Education Center. DeLaSalle is a charter school with alternative-style curriculum, and the only school of its kind in Missouri. DeLaSalle relies on donations and fundraisers to provide at-risk youth a personalized education to improve learning and life skills. The film is expected to bring a new audience to the school that has already reached its capacity of 300 students with a waiting list.
The crowdfunding campaign to raise $18,000 will continue until Dec. 7 on Kickstarter. Check out the page here! For up-to-date information on everything regarding this project, make sure to like “Together We’re Stronger” on Facebook and follow the film on Twitter.
Pictures via Hank Young and Kali Schnieders
by Erin Robinson
Millennials. We have all heard the term, but do we understand its meaning and importance? Before exploring the challenges of marketing to millennials and some helpful ways to overcome them, let’s take a look at who millennials are and why marketing to this generation is so vital to the success of companies and brands.
Who millennials are and why they’re important
Millennials are individuals born from 1977-1995 and they represent 25 percent of the US population, according to Barkley’s report, “American Millennials: Deciphering the Enigma Generation.” There are millions of them, over 82 million to be specific. They spend money, with an annual purchasing power at $200 billion. Lastly, they are making gateway purchases, which Bulldog Reporter Editor Talia Sinkinson defines as, “choices that can influence brand allegiance for the rest of their lives.”
Overcoming millennial marketing challenges
While every company may have different challenges in its efforts to market to millennials, I am going to focus on a few of the most common from my own perspective as a millennial.
#1: Grabbing millennials’ attention
We are exposed to thousands of marketing messages every day, so creating something that is going to stand out in the clutter and remain in our minds is no easy feat.
Fix: Make us feel like a part of your brand, use visuals to engage us and inspire us to take action. Do what hasn’t been done. We like new and bold.
#2: We don’t like when you try to blatantly sell us things
Millennials can sniff out an advertisement from a mile away. We are so inundated with advertisements that we begin to resent them all together and we find ways to block them out any chance we get.
Fix: Sell your story rather than your product. Find a way to relate your brand to us personally and tap into our emotions a bit. We love a good story and want to support things that make us feel good about ourselves. When companies or brands find ways to engage us without yelling “BUY ME!!!” we appreciate it.
#3: Keeping up with us isn’t easy
Our world is constantly changing, especially when it comes to technology. We are also always connected, so we are aware of what is going on around us.
Fix: The companies and brands that keep up with changes and trends in technology and adapt their marketing messages to what is going on around us will be the most successful. Pay attention to what we are talking about and find a clever way into the conversation.
Moral of the story
Marketing to millennials should be at the top of companies’ priority list and will benefit them tremendously if done the right way.
By Megan Maher
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:
- 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.
- Our AP Style Book is huge. Anytime we’re in a stylistic jam we can refer to it for help.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- We’re thankful for Google Drive, Calendar, Hangouts, Alerts–okay… everything Google! How did we even function before it? Seriously, how was it possible?
- 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.
- Photographers, graphic designers, and videographers help us bring our creative visions to life.
- 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!
by Jonathan Haile
Wednesday, July 24, is going to be a historic day for the University of Central Missouri. Never before has a sitting president visited UCM. President Barack Obama will come speak on the economy, and university president Charles Ambrose expects the Missouri Innovation Campus to be of interest to him, as well.
If you were unaware, the Missouri Innovation Campus (MIC) is a collaboration between UCM, the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District, Metropolitan Community College, and various businesses, meant to help students earn bachelor’s degrees within two years of earning their high school diplomas.
“Through The MIC, we are reshaping the way students experience education,” President Ambrose said. “We’re making college more affordable by connecting students with businesses that share responsibility for their development and who will become their future employers who will reap the benefits of hiring these job-ready employees.” (UCMO/Obama)
The Innovation Campus is another one of UCM’s commitments in allowing students to “learn to a greater degree”. It proves that choosing Red is less of a choice and more of an investment in a better future for all mules and jennies. It’s also an example other universities and college programs will want to try to emulate.
As Obama and the university prepare for his visit, social media use is off to the races. No matter the political persuasion, people have something to say about Obama making a short stay in the Burg. It’s the perfect time to give those who don’t know about UCM a great impression of our university. I suggest that if you tweet, Instagram a photo, update a status, or vine about Obama’s visit (and I know you will), use the hashtags #ChooseRed or #POTUSatUCM.
Let’s get them trending. If we can’t get them trending around the nation, we can get them trending in Kansas City and St. Louis. We can show that choosing red is the right choice. Even if it’s for a few hours, Obama has chosen red for a reason. Let’s give people who don’t know about it a reason to ask why.