What does PR mean to you?

In just a few short weeks, I will be graduating from Louisiana State University with a degree in Public Relations from the Manship School of Mass Communication. Everyday, I find myself being asked the same question, “What are you doing after graduation?” Each time, I sound like a voice recorder as I riddle off my exciting real world plans. However, this morning I was completely caught off-guard as a friend asked me a totally different question.

She asked, “KK, what are you doing after graduation?” As I rolled my eyes and pressed the imaginary plan button in my head, she cut me off mid-recital. She explained, “I know what your plans are, I was asking what you are actually going to do? What exactly is PR?” You would assume that after studying PR for four years that I could easily answer this question. Wrong.

Throughout the rest of the day, I found myself wondering, “What exactly do people think I do?” In today’s world, so many people fail to understand what exactly the PR industry entails. I’ll admit, it is a challenging profession to fully grasp because each PR professional does something slightly different than another. In an effort to understand what people think about my future profession, I conducted my own research.

What my friends think I do?

Each and every one of my friends ironically gave me the same answer: “group projects.” Right now, I am enrolled in a service-learning course at LSU that has provided me with the opportunity to work with Louisiana Delta Service Corps (LDSC). Along with my group members, we are putting together a comprehensive PR campaign for the nonprofit organization. Despite the irony, there is a great deal of truth to their answers. In the PR industry, professionals are constantly working with others to carry out the various aspects of their careers. Therefore, it has been extremely beneficial to learn the most effective ways to work in a group.

What my mom thinks I do?

Since my mom graduated from college, the PR profession has drastically changed. Therefore, I expected her response to be an extremely outdated definition of the profession. However, the response I received is perhaps my favorite of all, “You spend too much time on the phone and computer…”twitting” and stuff.” I feel compelled to give mom a little credit because she makes a valid point. For many PR professionals, social media has drastically altered the way in which they communicate with the public. One must always stay updated with necessary information and be readily available to their client.

What society thinks I do?

Thanks to Samantha Jones of HBO’s Sex and the City, the world has developed its very own PR stereotype since the show debuted. Jones’ character owned her own PR firm in New York City and portrayed her career as one big lavish party on the Upper East side. Despite popular belief, there is much more to PR than lavish parties and representing celebrities. A girl can dream though…

What my boss thinks I do?

Too afraid to actually ask this question, I’ll simply give you my assumption. The world of PR has drastically changed over the past decade, especially in response to the multitude of technological advancements. More than ever, seasoned PR professionals are seeking out young, technologically savvy PR graduates. In this sense, my boss probably likes to think of me as the person who executes her ideas on the Internet.

What I think I do?

Although it may seem silly, I would like to think that my hard work with LDSC has shown them the advantages of PR and the positive impact it can have on a nonprofit organization. Whether it is through social media networks, hosting an informational event or creating a variety of print materials, I truly believe I made great contributions to my client.

What I actually do?

Above all else, I learn. As graduation is quickly approaching, I reflect on the knowledge I have obtained in my time at LSU. While at times I questioned the importance or relevance of a class or lecture, I know that I learned something. Just because I am done with college does not mean I am done with learning. With each new experience, I will continue to grow and develop as a PR professional and I feel certain that I am prepared to face the next step in my career.

For more information about me or LDSC please check out Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

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Increase brand identity with the help of social networking.

If you have ever read my blog, then you have probably heard me talk about PPR’s initial team meeting with Betsy Irvine, executive director of Louisiana Delta Service Corps. At that meeting Betsy made the statement that the nonprofit organization could be one of Baton Rouge’s best-kept secrets. While it may seem endearing, it does not boast well when you are trying to increase awareness. Therefore in order to promote the organization and showcase all the possibilities it has to offer the young adult population of Louisiana, PPR went into full-force planning mode.

Over the past week, I have spent a great deal of time thinking about the true importance of brand identity for nonprofit organizations, much like Louisiana Delta Service Corps. Branding oneself is the process of creating a clear and consistent message that accurately represents your organization in the eyes of the public. Consider some of the most iconic logos in today’s workforce: Coca-cola, Nike and Apple. All three of these corporations are great examples of strong brand identity. For organizations it is important to have easily recognizable logos. Not only does this immediately allow others to recall the name of the organization, but also the key messages, mission, products and programs that defines it in the public eye. An unfortunate reality in so many nonprofit organizations is the failure to accurately brand themselves. Despite their strong mission statements and commitment to the community, many nonprofit organizations forget to consider others perceptions of the organization and its influence on society.

Now, in the social media generation, so many nonprofit organizations have unlimited resources to truly show the world who they are, what they do and how they can help you. Social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter provide an outlet for instant communication, in addition to being a visual aid that represents the organization. For example, the more often a nonprofit organization utilizes social media, the more attention they will garner from followers.

Louisiana Delta Service Corps is among the most fabulous nonprofit organizations in the country. It was founded on ideals and values that would naturally encourage anybody to participate. However, so many people are unaware of the possibilities this organization possesses. As Betsy mentioned, very few individuals know about its potential opportunities. Since January, PPR has been eager to gain the rights of Louisiana Delta Service Corps’ social media in hopes of giving it a “media makeover” that would drastically increase its brand identity. After weeks of anxiously waiting, we finally got the rights!!! Almost immediately after receiving the great news, we were hard at work trying to incorporate week’s worth of information onto Facebook and Twitter in just a few days. In just five days, we have had over 300 people “like” us on Facebook and have increased our Twitter followers drastically. With our information and recruitment event merely five days away, this could not have come at a better time!

For more information about LDSC or its upcoming event, please follow us on Twitter or Facebook.

Teamwork in the workplace

As a second semester senior, graduation is on the near horizon and it is extremely bittersweet. While on the one hand it is hard to believe how quickly these past seven semesters have flown by, the other part of me is ready to be finished with school. There are days when I even think to myself that in just a few short weeks, I will never have to sit in a classroom ever again.

With each new assignment or exam, I find myself struggling to find the little piece of motivation I know I still have within. However, more than actual motivation, it almost feels as though I am merely pretending to be the same student I have been throughout my collegiate career. Over the past few years, I have mastered the art of studying and know exactly what I need to do to succeed. While it may take me slightly longer to sit down and study than it did in previous year, I get there. As a known over-achiever, failure to complete work does not resonate well with me.

However, it is completely different when working on group projects with several team members. With each new group project, it is a new group of individuals. A new set of team members to figure out. This is extremely important, particularly in a service-learning course, because you will be working very closely with those people for the entirety of the semester. Therefore, it is clearly not something to be taken lightly. For my particular service-learning course, PR Campaigns, my team members had the potential to dictate our entire project. A bad team has the potential to take the best situation or client and turn it sour. The opposite is true with a good group- they have the potential to turn a negative situation into a positive and enjoyable situation.

I am currently enrolled in an introductory leadership course, which has been extremely beneficial and provided greater understand of what it means to be a good team member. All too often, individuals hope for team members exactly like themselves in hopes of easy collaboration. However, the overall message of the course has taught me the importance of having different strengths among team members because it increases success. The overall message of the course is to focus on your strengths rather than your weaknesses. In doing so, you eliminate any opportunity for negativity.

When partaking in a service-learning course, each team member must be a leader. According to Lou Holtz, there are five things you must have in order to be a good leader and team member: a vision, a plan, you must lead by example, you must hold others accountable and finally, you must all share the same core values. While everyone has different ways of handling things, following Holtz’s advice will ensure a far greater experience.

In the public relations industry, you will always be working with teams or groups of individuals. While some may be larger than others, a huge portion of your career will be spent working with others. Each team member brings something different to the table and that is a positive thing. It is through focus and cultivation of each members strengths that you can accomplish your goals.

 

Nothing Is Simply Black and White.

Growing up, my parents always tried to teach me the difference between right and wrong. They explained that while some decisions are good, others might be very bad. As a chronic biter by the age of three, they attempted to make me understand this phenomenon by explaining that biting someone at school was probably a bad decision. Despite the “yes sir” they intended to hear, my only response to their very black and white explanation was simply “what do you mean, ‘probably’?”

By simply using that word, they opened a whole new world of possibilities and what-if questions. Years later, I too understand that biting someone at school is probably a bad decision, but what if the other person bit me first? Is it still wrong? When there is no clear answer in sight, figuring out the difference between right and wrong can be extremely difficult. All too often in life, we are faced with things that leave us confused and unsure. In our journey to making the right decision, most of us find ourselves seeking the advice and approval of our peers.

In the public relations industry, important decisions are made everyday. While some seem fairly simple, others have the potential to keep us awake at night. When someone is struggling to make the right decision, my grandmother always says, “It doesn’t matter what everyone else thinks, what do you think?” In certain situations, my grandmother makes a valuable point: your decision should be your own. However, decision-making for public relations professionals is slightly different. With the vast audiences that public relations professionals reach, it is impossible to simply disregard their input or opinion when making a decision. As professionals, it is our primary responsibility to develop and maintain relationship with our clients and the public. In the daily operations of a public relations campaign, it is our goal to implement the wants and need of our clients. However, sometimes what they want is either beyond our reach or walks a fine line between right and wrong. According to the PRSA Code of Ethics, public relations professionals must possess certain values such as: advocacy, honesty, expertise, independence, loyalty and fairness. When in doubt, these professionals should always turn back to these core values when making an important decision. Not only will they help to lay the groundwork for ethical decision-making, they will direct our actions on how to approach each situation. With any wrong decision, there is sure to be consequences. While public relations professionals will make certain mistakes from time to time, failure to not only uphold these values but to use them as a guiding force will result in consequences.

Throughout the semester, I plan to not only honor the values described in the code of ethics but also use this experience with Louisiana Delta Service Corps (LDSC) to further instruct me about the importance of decision-making. It is my obvious goal to carry out a successful recruitment and awareness campaign that Betsy Irvine, executive director for LDSC, hopes to see. However, I will not allow any ethical oversights to compromise my future in public relations; no client or campaign is worth risky decision-making.

You Must Do Your Research!

A few weeks have passed and now PPR is in full campaign mode. Our team has made the decision to meet on a regular basis, roughly three to four times a week, in hopes of staying on top of our work. After recently completing our first research synopsis for our client, Louisiana Delta Service Corps (LDSC), everything seems to be coming together.

When conducting a public relations campaign, research is an extremely important step. Without proper research, it is almost impossible to execute a thorough campaign. In our initial client meeting with Betsy Irvine, executive director of LDSC, she provided us with a vital piece of information: the target audience. By explaining that our campaign should target young adults, between the ages of 18 and 27, who are interested in the LDSC program. In addition, Betsy also supplied PPR with a great deal of secondary research about the organization. While this research was extremely beneficial, we also thought it was extremely important to carry out out our own primary research. We put together a survey consisting of eight questions in order to see how knowledgeable the young audience is with LDSC. Based on our initial results, 93 of 100 survey participants lacked general knowledge of the organization or had never heard of it. However, further questioning expressed that many participants are interested in learning more about LDSC and its program. This survey gave us great insight to the most beneficial ways to reach out target audience. When asked to select all media outlets regularly used to receive information, 75 percent of the participants selected social media as their primary news source. Free social media networks like Facebook and Twitter have not only changed the way young adults receive news, but also how they communicate with others. With this change in the dissemination of information, non-profit organizations are able to easily communicate with their target audience without emptying their bank accounts.

I have always understood the importance of research; however, working with a nonprofit organization has solidified my feelings towards this process. Like many other nonprofit organizations, LDSC runs on a tight budget. By conducting extensive research, PPR has received extremely beneficial information that will not only keep us from thoughtless spending throughout the campaign but will also guide us in creating objectives. I firmly believe that if we continue to use our resources to our highest advantage PPR will be extremely successful in raising awareness for LDSC.

Ready or not…

Here we go!

In college, classes like economics and organic chemistry never fail to stress a student out. However, even after three and a half years of college, there is one class that tends to haunt the minds of mass communications seniors. Public relations campaigns is our final opportunity to prove ourselves to our peers, clients and professors that we can achieve greatness in the field of public relations.

Despite my initial anxiety, I have to admit that I have been pleasantly surprised thus far. My team, which consists of five girls, already seems to be on the fast track to success. Working on this campaign will provide us with first-hand experience that will better prepare us for life post-graduation. Therefore, it seemed fitting to name our company Prelude Public Relations (PPR).

This semester, PPR will be working with a locally based Americorps program, Louisiana Delta Service Corps. Although I had never heard about the organization prior to this class, I am really excited to be working hands-on with this non-profit organization. On Monday, we had our initial meeting with Betsy Irvine, Executive Director of Louisiana Delta Service Corps. The meeting went better than I could have ever imagined, which was a huge weight off our shoulders. Betsy explained the true history and meaning behind Louisiana Delta Service Corps. The organization is made up of three full-time employees and 45 corps members. These individuals will provide national service for 11 months in either New Orleans or Baton Rouge. In essence, it is Louisiana’s very own Peace Corps. Betsy emphatically reminded us that as an Americorps program, Louisiana corps members are providing a year of national service, not community service.

When asked what PPR can do for Louisiana Delta Service Corps, Betsy quickly responded with, “We are Louisiana’s best kept secret.” That single comment laid the groundwork for our entire campaign: get noticed and get things done. Through a vigorous awareness and recruiting campaign, it will be our job to spread the story of the organization to young adults throughout the state.

With graduation on the near horizon, many college students are at a loss of what to do next. This program not only provides endless professional and networking opportunities, it allows young adults to discover the difference they can may in just 11 months. In the end, national service is not just about giving your time; it is about making use of it.