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Archive for October, 2007

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. (more…)

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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…

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