COMM 4333 Topic of the Week


1. Form and cultivate personal relationships with your clients. This is very important to being a successful Public Relations professional, whether you are just starting in the industry or have been in it for many years. Dig deeper than just knowing someone on a name-by-name basis, but add a personal touch and really get to know who they are. Do this by taking them out to lunch, etc. It will go a long way.

2. Always proofread! A journalist with throw away your news release and not contact you if he or she sees many misspelled words or typos. It is very unprofessional and is a bad representation of the company you are representing. Double-check everything you send out, including e-mails!

3. Become educated in the world of social media. FaceBook. FourSquare, and Twitter are just a few of the essential social media tools in the field of Public Relations. Learning about these tools and using them successfully is important, and will open up new educational doors as well as providing new connections.

4. Always provide follow-up. After you meet a potential client, or have an interview, send a handwritten note. This shows high character, integrity, and will set you apart from the rest.

5. Send out news releases in advance. Always send news releases at least 2 weeks in advance, if at all possible. Unless it is immediate-breaking news, journalists typically work on feature stories several weeks before they are sent to print.

6. Be aware of new products and new ways to pitch them. Do not pitch something that has been around for a long time, since people most likely will already know about it. Find something unique and creative to talk about, and create a media kit that will really make that product or organization stand out.

7. Write conversationally, not overly formally. When a journalist reads your press release, he or she does not want to be reading a journalism story, since that is their job to write. Simply explain the product or organization you are representing in clear, easy-to-understand terms.

8. Meet people face-to-face. Get to know people in-person! Don’t make the mistake of simply forming a relationship online. Although this is important, you can get to know someone a lot better when they are actually standing in front of you. Also, people will remember your company a lot better after they have seen your face.

9. Pay attention to details. Make sure all your facts are correct! This is very important, and can make or break your reputation.

10. Establish a name for yourself. Get yourself out there, and be fully immersed in the industry! Take risks, and do not hold back. Even if you fail at first, it will be a learning experience.

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1. Familiarize yourself with WordPress, before even beginning to blog. Since WordPress can be very intimidating at first, allow yourself several days (or weeks, depending on how tech-savvy you are) to become familiar with the ins and outs of WordPress. This way, you’ll be a pro once you actually get a following! ; )

2. Choose a specific topic, and brand yourself. Instead of blogging about 72 different random things, choose a certain topic or category to talk about. This way, you will get specific readers following your blog that are interested in that certain topic, and will most likely remain loyal to you.

3. Comment and subscribe to other blogs. People often only give what they receive. If you would like people to comment on your blog, comment on theirs first! This is the only way to really make contacts and create traffic towards your own blog. Get your name out there!

4. Make the look and feel of your blog unique and attention-grabbing. Create a layout that is not easily overlooked. Rather than staying with the default WordPress theme, create something colorful and unique, so that your blog will be recognized at first glance, or at least within a few seconds. Make is personalized to reflect your personality or the content of the blog.

5. Be consistent! This is short and to the point: blog everyday! Or, at least once a week. Sometimes, it is best to blog on the same day of each week, if possible. This way, your readers will know when to expect to hear something new from you.

6. Don’t get discouraged if you are lacking traffic at first. It takes quite a while for a new blog to “get on its feet,” so to speak. The more posts you create, connections you make, and advertising you do for your blog, the more views it will receive. However, do not expect many at first. It takes time for a blog to be successful, so don’t give up!

7. Promote your blog through Twitter. Advertise yourself through Twitter! You never know who could be reading your tweets. Each time you create a new blog post, tweet a small teaser for it, and always include a link to your blog.

8. Write about things that are actually important. Although this seems cliche, people only want to read about something they are interested in, or something that creates conflict. People love to talk about themselves, so ask for their opinions in comments! This is much more interesting than discussing what you had for breakfast that morning.

9. Use infographics exensively. In my opinion, blog posts that do not have pictures, links, or videos are very boring! Break up the monotony by enhancing each post with creative fonts, pictures, links, and YouTube videos (if possible) that relate to your blog post. The reader is much more likely to stay on your blog page a lot longer!

10. Have fun! Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to have a perfect blog right away. As a beginner, you are bound to have a few blogging blunders at first, and you will definitely not have the most Googled blog within the first few months. Have realistic expectations, and have fun! Learn from your mistakes, make connections, and be open to improvement.

T-shirt company reveals the “heart”
behind the “trend” they are creating

Lakeland, Fla., April 24, 2010 – Heart Trend is an online T-shirt company that was established several months ago. They are currently in the process of implementing marketing strategies to make their name known, share the vision behind their company, and begin to make enough profit to send to organizations that battle the growing epidemic of human trafficking in the United States.

Kristen Hayes Behrens, co-founder and marketer for Heart Trend, is passionate about seeing Heart Trend expand and strengthen; not for the benefit of herself or the company, but to be a positive voice in the community, having an impact on the lives of young women through Heart Trend’s mission and founding goals.

Heart Trend was established with one idea in mind: to inspire girls in America to start a new trend of guarding their hearts and realizing their full value and worth, rather than giving every part of themselves away to any male that might show interest in them. Heart Trend believes that although it is not commonly spoken, many men in our culture today are careless in relationships, focusing only on their selfish needs and desires, without giving any regard to how their actions may effect the girl, or multiple girls, they begin a relationship with. These short-lived relationships typically end leaving the girl heartbroken, feeling empty and depleted after giving herself away, both emotionally and physically.

According to Heart Trend’s mission statement, “young women need to realize that they are too precious and valuable not to be loved and respected.” Heart Trend believes not in the rejection of love, but in the value of waiting for true, lasting love, without compromising or settling for anything less in the meantime. Heart Trend wants to encourage the young women in our society to no longer give themselves away, but to wait for someone who will treat them the way they deserve.

Kristen Behrens first heard of the idea for this company from her brother and founding owner of Heart Trend, Kyle Behrens. Instantly, she fell in love with the concept and mission behind Heart Trend, and was excited to immediately jump on board in developing this company. After Kristen Behrens decided to join her brother in helping launch Heart Trend, the company immediately turned into a family affair. Since Kristen was raised in a Christian family, and was blessed with close relationships with her two brothers, she has grown up understanding the value of having men in her life treat her well, and is passionate about sharing this with other young women, so they have the opportunity to understand how precious they truly are.

When asked why the concept of Heart Trend is so meaningful to her, Behrens responded, “Heart Trend is meaningful to me because it gives girls a chance to acknowledge the respect they deserve from guys.” Respect, which not many girls realize they should be treated with, needs to be the founding principle that any relationship is based off of.

Currently, Heart Trend is functioning out of New York, so Behren’s isn’t able to have as active of a role as she originally hoped. However, she spends a lot of her time marketing Heart Trend in any way she can, by making people aware of the company and encouraging them to buy shirts. In the future, the company hopes to re-locate to Lakeland, where they will continue to sell T-shirts online, and promote the company throughout the community, as well as draw awareness to the issue of human trafficking, supporting organizations such as Love146.

“People [need] to become more aware of the seriousness of human trafficking that happens throughout the world,” say Behrens. “It is a passion of our hearts at Heart Trend to do whatever we can to help those that are forced into such a terrible lifestyle. For us, as a company, we are currently focusing on trying to make enough money to support other companies that are currently helping those people.”

In the next few years, she [Behrens] hopes to see a good amount of the girls wearing the T-shirts, and that the “trend” of guarding their hearts will begin to catch on, so that the downward cycle of use, abuse, and heartbreak will drastically decrease.

In this photo, co-founder of Heart Trend, Kristen Behrens, wears one of the company’s first original designs, available on the company’s website.

This video features Love146, an organization promoting the awareness of human trafficking. This organization, among many others, will be supported by Heart Trend’s profits.

This week, I took the Five Steps to Media Storytelling course on the PoynterNewsU website. I found it to be very informative, and it was able to hold my interest throughout the course. Since I have always been interested in graphic design and photography, I really enjoyed learning about ways to incorporate alternative types of media into stories and blog posts.

One thing that particularly stood out to me while taking this course was the section Making a Storyboard. Since I never have really done this before, it was beneficial to learn what goes into creating a storyboard. Creating a storyboard is important, especially if you plan on using any type of digital media in your story. Doing so will help the story to remain organized, so that want you want to accomplish through your story is achieved as easily as possible.

The three steps that must be taken while creating a storyboard are:

  • Define the elements
  • Identify the media
  • Storyboard the concept

After these things are done, it is important to analyze your story and identify any potential holes in your story, while organizing your story and  finding a particular focus.

I was most surprised to learn how much time and preparation truly goes into creating a story, especially when media is used. Locating the media, laying it out throughout the story, and editing are all necessary parts of successfully implementing media into a story.

Next, I hope to learn more about the actual technical details of how to use the different types of media that can be placed within a story. I hope to become more proficient in photography, and begin to learn about film; including the actual process of filming, editing, and placing what is filmed into a story. I believe this is very important, especially since we are enterning into a digitally dominated culture.

In every career or field of work, there are people who are required to work with each other to accomplish certain tasks. In the field of media, Public Relations professionals and Journalists cross paths on a daily basis, and need each other to fully complete each of their jobs. However, there are certain things that those working in the Public Relations industry can do to severely annoy Journalists. In this post, I hope to reveal some of those annoyances, to make you aware of what to do – or what not to do, rather, to maintain a peaceful, successful working environment.

1. Constantly sounding like a advertisement. When someone working in the Public Relations industry, and is corresponding with a Journalist, it is highly irritating to the Journalist when they write news pitches, emails, or even speak in-person in an overly scripted tone. This tone comes out stuffy and cold, rather than educated and knowledgeable. Journalists tend to not understand certain phrases that PR’s use, so it is best to speak conversationally, yet professionally at the same time.

2. Pitching as if selling a timeshare, rather than a story. When a Journalist takes the time to listen to a pitch from someone in Public Relations, they want to hear the pitch for the story in a conversational style, rather than hearing the facts and statistics about the company to convince the Journalist to take the story.

3. Becoming suddenly silent. As a Public Relations professional, it is important to maintain connections! If you have begun working with and building a relationship with a specific Journalist, it is important to maintain that connection and continue to work with that Journalist, and not become suddenly silent or go AWOL.

4. Sending press releases that are irrelevant or unimportant. Journalists become extremely annoyed if they continually receive press releases that are irrelevant or a waste of their time.

5. Writing an article, rather than a press release. Since it is the Journalist’s job to write the article, they can become very annoyed when someone in Public Relations sends them a pitch written as an article. It is best for the Public Relations professional to simply write the press release, so the Journalist is able to write the article in their own way.

6. Writing press releases that are too lengthy. Since Journalists receive many press releases and news pitches a day, they become very annoyed when they receive a press release that is unnecessarily long. Writing a press release that is short, sweet, and concise gives it the greatest chance of being accepted by the Journalist.

7. Failing to answer a Journalist’s question or give them what they ask for. Since Journalists work within strict time restraints, they can become very annoyed if the PR fails to answer specific questions they ask, or provide photos, etc., within a timely manner.

8. Using quotes without using names. When sending a Journalist a pitch or press release, it is imperative to attach names to any and all qoutes from a study. Otherwise, the press release loses legitimacy.

9. Sending files improperly. Although this may seem elementary, it is common sense that if the press release is attached improperly or the file is corrupt, the Journalist will be unable to open the file and read the press release, and he or she most likely will not contact the Public Relations “professional” to ask for it to be sent again.

10. Trying to make something “work” when it clearly doesn’t. If the Journalist is looking for a specific story, they can become very annoyed if someone in PR relentlessly pursues them, trying to pitch a story to them that will not work for what they are looking for.

All of the information in this post I found from several other internet sites, including the following: Alex Blyth, Publicity Heaven, and Meryl’s Notes Blog.

When I was looking over the different options of podcasts for this assignment, the one entitled “Marketing Over Coffee” was the first to catch my attention, mainly because of the name of the podcast and my love for coffee. This particular episode was a special interview with Seth Godin. This was particularly interesting to me since I have read many of his books and have heard him speak several times at leadership conferences.

The topic of this podcast was about the leverage that technology holds over large media corporations. An example of this was the podcast itself, how it does not hold a lot of overhead, but still has the ability to be more successful than large media corporations that require a lot of money from it’s customers in order for it to be successful.

Seth Godin attributed social networking and media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and podcasts as art, and those who use it as artists. He defined art as the act of changing someone because you want to, not because you get paid to. He spoke on the fact that everyone has the ability to be an artist, and use these free outlets to share freedom and knowledge with a countless number of people.

The biggest thing that inspired me about this podcast was to be a real artist, and someone who really follows through with using the technology and resources that have been given to me. As Godin said, a good idea doesn’t really make any difference or have any effect unless it is followed through with. This encouraged me to no longer hold back when I get a good idea to blog about, etc., but to take a risk and follow through with it.

It is important for PR students to listen to podcasts by PR practitioners because they truly are storehouses filled with free, unlimited information. This is beneficial because it offers more real-life information that cannot be learned in PR classes at a university, but can only be learned through advice from someone actually working in the industry at the time.

Before I became a member of PR OpenMic, I was unaware of the immense amount of benefits that it held. It is an incredible resource for not only PR professionals, but for college graduates looking for a job, and students that are preparing to launch into the field of Public Relations.

PR OpenMic has a format very similar to Facebook. Users create a profile highlighting their interests, professional and educational background, past work experiences, and future career goals. Once this is done, users can search for others in the Public Relations industry, and make contacts and connections to aide them in future career moves.

The first feature I found to be very helpful on this site was the section for Jobs/Internships. It was very organized and provided a listing for countless jobs and internships that are currently available in the Public Relations field. This is beneficial for a recent graduate or student preparing to graduate, since it makes it easy for them to contact potential future employers about positions they are interested in. This category also provided links to outside sources that provided job listings and descriptions as well.

The next feature I found to be valuable was the Discussion Forum. Here, users are given an open format where they can ask questions or start discussions on certain topics related to Public Relations. This is extremely beneficial, and allows students and professionals to talk amongst themselves, share wisdom, make contacts, and collaborate ideas. I found some of the topics posted on this forum to be very interesting, and am looking forward to getting involved with some of the discussions in the near future.

Last, but certainly not least, I found  that the Blog section in PR OpenMic was full of extensive amounts of information. In this section, blogs from several of the PR OpenMic users are featured, for other users to easily find and gain insight from.

Although I am still fairly new to PR OpenMic, I am interested in using the program as a tool to make connections with more PR professionals, gaining insight from them as I venture into the world of Public Relations.

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