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After my own brief 5 a.m. boot camp at the Summa Wellness Center in Hudson Friday morning (consisting of a mile run, Core Crunch class and a bit on the elliptical– I know, not much of a bootcamp for most, but certainly for me), I headed to Kent State University for the 7:30 check-in to the You Too: Social Media Boot Camp.

I mentioned that I was excited to have the opportunity to refresh some of what I’d learned during my Online Tactics course at Kent State, and I wasn’t disappointed. The three opening presentations will soon be available on SlideShare, which you can link to from my former professor’s blog, but I don’t mind summarizing what I took away from each.

  • Bill Sledzik: Social media/Web 2.0/etc. and additional means of opening and supporting two-way communication are nothing new.  Certainly technology aids us in our quest to truly listen and respond with our audiences, building conversations rather than just dumping our information out to carefully selected masses.  But we’ve always known it’s what we should be doing, and we’ve found other ways to do it in the past.
  • Dino Baskvic: All of these shiny new things (namely, online conversation builders like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) are exciting and at times overwhelming, but at the end of the day, the Internet is not going to crash. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.  
  • Michele Ewing: Although social media is a new means of communicating with key publics, it should not completely take the place of traditional methods.  Instead, we should use one to support the other and work to incorporate the two together. Although there are a number of case studies to support the effectiveness of social media, it’s not appropriate for every client. (Side note: I found this article on a similar thought… online public relations being much more than just blogs and blogging and how online public relations techniques can lead to ‘traditional’ results.)

After the initial opening remarks, groups were sent to different seminars on blogging and podcasting.  I was amazed at the number of PR practitioners in attendance who had not at the very least dabbled in one or the other.  The sessions were very hands-on, allowing individuals to set up a blog and explore different features available to them depending on whether they chose to use it for personal as opposed to business purposes.  We also had the chance to try out different recorders for podcasting and then, using Audacity, editing ready-made files for a complete piece.

I’ll tell you about the lunch and afternoon sessions just as soon as I go dig my car out of the snow…

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Where, oh where, has the blogosphere gone? With a final semester of college focused on the latest and greatest in social media do and do-nots nearly a year away, I seem to have lost some of my blogging fire. I’m not staying up-to-date on my feeds… not the ones focused on PR or marketing or the ones about the hottest travel destinations… I’m not staying on top of my own blog posts, and I’m not even staying on top of blogging opportunities for clients.

 Whoops.

This week I was asked to help with Web copywriting for a client hoping to incorporate online resources as a tool within its new Web site.  Not just an area for links to latest trade publication stories, but a section dedicated to all online resources… white papers, journal articles, industry trend reports and… da da da daaa… blogs. 

It upsets me that the request took me by surprise.  I am constantly scanning my Cision media hits and trade publications to stay on top of the latest trends, learning as much as I can about the client and its competition and diligently searching for media opportunities. Although I luck into the occasional relevant blog post returned at the bottom of all my scheduled Google Alerts, I haven’t been making a conscious effort.

How did this apathy occur?  Well, it started with me blaming my life in general, making excuses about being too busy.  It takes time to sit down and read through posts, leave thoughtful comments, follow interesting and helpful links and dedicate brain cells to retaining some of the information.  Who has time for that? It continued with my dedication to serving clients quickly and continuously exactly what they want and not pushing back and making recommendations about what I think they need.  I mean, as an AAE, can I really be so forward as to start suggesting my own social media strategies for clients?  As you may have read in my past posts, that notion is bogus considering all of the input and involvement I’ve been so lucky to have with and on behalf of my clients since beginning this job last September.

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Everybody, from time to time, should take a step back and watch himself go by. -Thomas Watson Senior, Founder of IBM 

I was seriously concerned about how much I would miss school once I graduated from college… I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t studying, working on homework or learning something new, and I should have known better than to have believed that any of those things would end once I entered the working world.

I’m still learning alright, but the way I’m learning has changed- for the good and the bad. The hands-on experience and chance to apply all my book-knowledge has been incredible.  I’ve gotten experience with advertising plans and submissions, direct marketing creative and printing and tradeshow preparation, and I’ve even helped research and write the occasional new business plan. But with the learning curve, not to mention all that’s gone on outside of work with family, friends and the holidays, comes a few difficulties. 

Sometimes it’s easy to get so caught up in doing the day-to-day survival activities that I don’t make the time to take a step back and look at the big picture for each of my clients.

One thing I love about Akhia is that making the time to step back is not only suggested, it’s required.  We have had agency meetings specifically for that purpose where everyone is asked to brainstorm out-of-the-box ideas for clients that will meet long-term or big picture goals.  I thought I would have an advantage since I’m still relatively new to some of my accounts, but it was still a hard thing to do, stepping back and taking a look. It’s something we as an agency should do more often, but it’s also something I’ve tasked myself to do more often as well.

I believe in applying what I’ve learned in the classroom to the real world, and although experience is providing it’s own lessons, I like to think that all my hard book work was also worth the effort I put forth. One client that I particularly enjoy consumed quite a bit of my past week, but the results- and some of the projects moving forward- are why I love this industry, why classroom knowledge doesn’t have to go to waste and why I really believe in the work I do. Continue Reading »

This post is dedicated to the students about to present their campaigns (tomorrow) at Kent State… 

 All PRKenters (a.k.a. students in Kent State’s public relations sequence) heard horror stories about senior seminar/campaigns, which I wrote about here, from the time we entered the major.  All of those who had gone before us had the same words of warning.  It is the hardest class you will ever take.  You will either learn to love or hate the classmates in your group by the time it is all over.  You will stop sleeping, eating and having fun during that semester.  All of your life will be sucked away until the moment after your group presents to the client and it is all over.

I’ll admit under no uncertain terms that it was by far the most time-consuming and intense class I ever took.  I was completely immersed in my client, and my social life did disintegrate in front of my eyes.  It seemed that a giant weight had been lifted from my shoulders when I was finally done and able to glimpse my ‘A’ through a film of happy tears.

 Obviously I’m not quite over it, and based on recent events, I’m glad for that.  Although I heard a number of students complain that it wasn’t really a necessary or real world experience for them because they didn’t plan to go into agency work where they would ever have to campaign for a client, I always disagreed on the premise that it was still a class that forced you to use what you had (hopefully) learned throughout the course of your major.  At the very least you had to work through each step of the RACE formula and appreciate in some small way its importance and significance.

The only problem with campaigns is really beyond the control of the classroom exercise, and that is that most people don’t get to go through another experience like that for some time.  Even if you enter an agency, you begin as an assistant account executive or maybe account executive, and while you might have some input or hand in helping with upcoming proposals for new business, you don’t have the bulk of the research, strategizing, writing and presenting trusted to you.  That is usually the task of a senior executive or account planner with years of experience.

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FEMA’s PR Blunder

I was watching CNN this afternoon after gutting my pumpkin and toasting the seeds when I heard about FEMA’s response to the California wild fires. I was blown away by the PR nightmare that has ensued. I actually sat around until they ran the story again to make sure I heard things right and then hit the computer.

For those who missed this one, FEMA issued a press conference last Tuesday to update the media and public on its response to the California fires and how it has been handling the situation. The conference was called last minute and the media was apparently unable to attend, but the conference took place anyway with FEMA employees posing as inquisitive reporters while FEMA directors answered questions. The tape of the fake conference was then issued to the media.

Once word got out about the staged press conference, FEMA issued an apology, saying that in its attempt to disseminate a lot of information to answer previous media questions, it had made an error in judgment and that the employees who had participated would be disciplined. However, only the AP was invited to witness that statement. Talk about making a bad situation worse. For more details, read and watch the story yourself.

Here’s the situation in my eyes. I give FEMA a nod for good intent. It wanted to answer questions, wanted to get information out about the situation and didn’t want to hide. All good things, however, there were a number of ways it could have done this aside from issuing a last minute press conference. (i.e. set up an FAQ area on its Web site, etc.) From case studies I covered in class, it seems to me that a common mistake made during crises is rushing into disseminating information without considering key messages, who should act as spokesperson and what the appropriate forum for distributing the message might be.

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As I mentioned in my previous blurb, I’ve graduated and entered the real world. I took two weeks off between my graduation and the beginning of my new agency job to travel (surprise), but now everything is catching up. 

I’m still receiving e-mails from KSU listservs, which is bringing on a barrage of emotions ranging from joy to horror at having finished college, but I’m loving every minute at work and it’s really what has helped me stay stable and sane. Although my first weeks flew by, trying to get acclimated to the workplace and my clients, I’ve finally had a moment to stop and think about everything that has happened.

I was talking with a friend who is finishing her last semester at KSU in the PRKent sequence, and she was asking me quite a few in-depth questions about my time at Kent State, my internships, my job, my travels and how those things helped lead me to where I am now.

 I’m glad that I dedicated so much time and effort not only to my course work, but to the organizations I joined and positions I held. I just turned in my paperwork to join the Akron Chapter of PRSA, a move brought on by good experiences as a member of Kent State’s PRSSA. I was only a mildly active member due to declaring my major late, being out of the country and class conflicts, but the meetings I attended and my experience at the PRSSA National Convention all helped me develop professionally before I was officially a professional. Whether I was participating in a resume or cover letter critique, earning scholarship money or simply meeting other classmates, I learned more about applying what I was learning in class to the real world, and I was learning how many opportunities existed for me once I left Kent State. Continue Reading »

I know there are no excuses for leaving my blog go as long as I did, but I am going to list some anyway:

– Graduated from Kent State University summa cum laude in August

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– Traveled heathercolloseum.jpgaround Europe with my brother for two weeks

– Moved from Cleveland to Cuyahoga Falls and learned that I own way too much

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– Started my new job at Akhia, Public Relations & Marketing Communications

However, now I’m back, practicing public relations in full force and ready to dedicate some time and effort to Experience PR.  Sorry if you missed me, but I included a few photos so you can feel like you were along for the ride…