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Archive for the ‘Blogging’ Category

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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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RelaxIn the cliched words of one of my favorite rockers, “School’s out for summer! School’s out forever!” From the obvious blog neglect, it should be clear that I have been lost. After 17 years of school I wasn’t really sure what to do with myself once classes were done and I had a few weeks off before my summer PR internship at Landau PR began. I don’t actually graduate until August, but finishing the last final I ever have to take sure made me feel like I was done. Not so!

My two-week break wasn’t completely relaxing– moved into a new apartment, nursed my boyfriend who lost the top of one of his fingers in a work-related accident, traveled out of state to visit friends and started reading my long-awaited pile of books. When I headed off to my first day of work, I had a moment of terror.What if I had forgotten everything I ever learned about PR?

So far my fears have been unfounded. I am loving my experience in the agency world. My clients run the gambit, and I just volunteered to be on a relatively new account, On Call, which provides medical insurance to travelers (health care+ travel= me written all over!) What’s most amazing to me is how seamlessly I transitioned from school to work. It’s probably not all that surprising, but the first few days I was already doing research, writing press releases and preparing media lists… all skills I acquired throughout Kent’s PR Sequence and my former internships.

There’s no better way to learn than to just do it, and I’m flinging myself head-first into any experiences I come across, especially ones I’ve not had before. I was able to tag along to a radio interview with a client and watch my colleague prep her for the interview, and I’m looking forward to helping with follow up calls to the media and some networking events.

What I hate most about starting somewhere new is the awkward acclimation, but so far this hasn’t been too hateful. I can’t wait to come in and have a list of things to do and just get right down to it, but right now I’m learning about the people, the clients, the problems and strategies, and that’s ok.

I do have to mention however, especially to anyone in the Kent PR Sequence thinking about taking PR Online tactics, that my blogging is helping me out more than I had anticipated. Two of my account teams already have me researching bloggers to pitch, and I am also going to help prepare a suggestion for a client to start a blog that involves outlining topics to cover with the blog, researching competitor and best case blogs and discussing how to go about creating and maintaining the blog and what time and effort is required. Exciting times, and I finally feel like I have a good handle on something that is not in everyone else’s area of expertise.

It pays to stay on top of things, and I’m hoping the more I blog and continue monitoring other blogs, the more I will be able to contribute on these teams. Guess the little lost PR student is on her way to being found!

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social-media.jpgIt’s amazing to me how many majors don’t require internships or any out-of-class experiences in order for students to graduate. My roommate is a biology/pre-med major graduating in December, and she was mentioning to me that she wishes she’d been forced to gain some experience during college, either in a healthcare setting or a research lab, so she would feel better prepared for her upcoming grad school applications and interviews. She readily admits that she didn’t try all that hard to gain experience, but argues that she didn’t really understand its value until it was too late.

While good grades and studious habits will earn you recognition and scholarships, the extracurricular activities and internships are what set you apart from the other superior students. In the end, there’s really no better way of learning than doing.

I really think PRKent takes that ideal to heart. Our professors are always touting the benefits of hands-on experience through classroom projects and paid and unpaid internships, and I guess they should know since they all came back to teach after spending some time working in the real world.  

This blog is one of the many projects to not only make students learn why, but how. Our PR Online Tactics class was faced with a blogging project this semester where we were required to monitor other blogs, develop a theme for our own PR-related blog and then post at least once a week throughout the semester. This part of the class was led by Professor Sledzik, author of the Toughsledding blog, and he recently posted about our class and provided links to everyone’s blogs. I made sure to monitor everyone else’s work throughout the class, and I was impressed. I don’t believe blogging is for everyone, but I thought the variety of themes and opinions really demonstrated what blogging is all about… sharing ideas and creating a conversation.

Unfortunately this was only a classroom project for a number of students so they are not going to be continuing their blogs, but I still think the project was incredibly beneficial. PR majors take classes like Print Beat Reporting that require students to write for our college newspaper for a semester to learn about news value, deadlines and how reporters think, and I’m excited that they’re transfering that ‘learning by doing’ mentality to social media as well.

This is finals week so I’m going to be putting to practice all of my hard-earned knowledge. Then I have a few trips, and I’m off to the real world!

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gavel.jpgAs part of one of my courses, Law of Advertising and PR, I was invited to attend a conference on ‘The Changing Face of Media Law’ at Kent State’s Stark Campus yesterday morning. While this counted as CLEs for practicing lawyers and provided great insight to the attendees in various news media fields, I learned a few things as well.

We just covered copyright issues in class and are now moving into corporate speech, so the first panel discussion I sat through, ‘Copyright, Trademark and the Internet,’ was a nice review and also brought up some public relations challenges I haven’t had to face just yet.

  • Copyright: Rights and Exemptions- Although the copyright owner has the right to distribute, perform publicly and create derivative works from the copyrighted material, other parties are only allowed limited access as an exemption under the Fair Use policy. This allows for the reproduction of copyright materials for the purpose of comment, criticism or parody. Our presenter, Jeffrey Samuels, a professor at the University of Akron School of Law, also mentioned that factual work receives less protection under Fair Use than fiction, and that the reason behind the use is also a factor. (i.e. Using that copyright for commercial purposes receives little protection under Fair Use.)

Why does this matter? Well, I found out that blogging is actually a perfect example of a public relations forum specifically asking for trouble with copyright issues. Using large amounts of copyright material, or even small thumbnail images that are not yours can be a copyright infringement, and I didn’t realize that attribution is only a defense to plagiarism, not copyright.

Blogging follows the guidelines of transparent information flow with linking and attributing at the heart of it all, but service providers like WordPress have to address copyright issues all the time. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act limits service providers from some copyright infringement suits because they are simply providing a forum, not the actual infringing activity, but it is still their responsibility to remove said content if asked or they could face real trouble.

With the move to open, two-way communication methods being employed by corporations everywhere, I see public relations professionals getting the job of monitoring those discussions. I don’t pretend to know all the details, and if I were put in that position I would definitely be visiting my corporation’s legal department to learn more about what kind of potential troubles could ensue.

I’m all about blogging for business as long as I know all the legal repercussions of that tactic. It would be a bad PR strategy to just play it safe and not allow for any discussion, but I wouldn’t suggest inviting a crisis either.

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green-plant.jpgSocial media lesson for the week: Don’t knock it till you try it. That’s what our PR Online Tactics class has learned this semester as we’ve delved into all kinds of new experiences— creating Web content, building Web sites, designing e-newsletters, blogging and now an upcoming project on podcasting. I know we’re going to graduate with tools under our belts that current professionals are trying to learn in seminars and continued education sessions, and that makes me feel a little better about being young and green.

This class has required a lot more time and effort than I anticipated, but I never could have gained this knowledge just from reading our book. That’s the beauty of social media as I see it. You just have to try it to know how it works and whether or not using it will benefit your company or client. (I know some people will argue that there’s no question as to whether it will benefit the client, but I still have some hesitations. Drop me a note about your thoughts…)

This blog, which originally began as a short-term classroom project, has grown in leaps and bounds and is getting more attention than I ever dreamed possible. Not that I mind… it’s the best lesson I’ve ever had in experiencing the instantaneous access the Internet provides for information sharing and networking. If it can do that for me, think of what it could do for my client. (more…)

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