Tag Archives: platform mag

Chill out, super woman

by Emily Diab

The frenzy of Operation: Crackdown has begun for many college seniors, and for some of them it’s too little too late. But for others, the intense feeling of utter stress from the commitment they’ve applied for years will soon pay off. They will walk across the graduation stage and gleam with pride, finally getting a chance to breathe. But contrary to the “end of the road” analogy, that’s not where the crackdown ends.

Some people like to think that the celebratory stroll to receive the coveted diploma is the end of a long road and the beginning of breathing easy. Those people are wrong.

The hardworking PR students who land a career post-grad are smart enough not to let their work ethic die, in fear of losing their money source and sense of being. This tenacity is a familiar token in the successful women of PR, but can be detrimental if it isn’t resisted.

A recent Forbes article by Larissa Faw addressed the “burnout” condition that many young professionals, specifically women, are experiencing.

“One reason that women are burning out early in their careers is that they have simply reached their breaking point after spending their childhoods developing well-rounded resumes,” Faw said.

We have been coached for years on how to develop professionally, network with connections and ultimately land the careers of our dreams. Many of us haven’t had a second to breathe, in fear of losing out on a rare opportunity for success. We are in a competitive environment, and have been made well aware of the risks we take by not striving to be the best.

Do you smell something burning?

As you read this, you might be nodding your head in agreement. Those of you who agree have probably been blessed with the firm force of strict professors and the personality of a success-driven maniac. Most of us have been PR practitioners since preschool, and we will thrive as adults in the world we were born for.

But the reality is, Super Woman does not exist. The superhero powers we expect from ourselves are not the reality, and the burnout theory proves it.

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Will SOPA curtail creativity?

by Megan Reichenbach

The Stop Online Piracy Act (also known as the Protect IP Act in the Senate) is a new initiative copyright owners are taking to “isolate and shut down websites or online services found with infringing content.”

Should we be worried?

SOPA’s primary goals seem to be legitimate, giving those artists the money they deserve for work that is being displayed online by others. The problem is that this bill has been reworked and now includes a requirement for pre-screening all user-contributed content.

In essence, we are looking at a future of broad Internet censorship . . . aka, changing the entire nature of what the Internet has become. Some even believe this act to be the “Great Firewall of America.”

The beginning

In late October 2011, the House of Representatives introduced a bill that would extend our federal government’s ability to stop foreign sites from using pirated content developed by U.S. businesses. This includes websites that steal music, videos and software from U.S. corporations.

As I noted, the initial purpose of the bill seemed reasonable. Many people illegally download music, films and television series rather than paying the 99 cents to download from iTunes. In reality, such stinginess is leaving those music producers and filmmakers with empty pockets.

It’s estimated that Hollywood studios and record labels are losing up to a $135 billion a year from piracy alone.

But, eradicating domain names all together may “disrupt the way the Internet is designed to work today and put too much of a burden on search engines and Internet service providers in blocking suspected sites.”

The SOPA buzz

It’s no secret that SOPA has been the ongoing gossip in the cyber world. The bill suggests that those individuals and companies that publish about or link to others’ works may be accused of piracy.

This would include all of us who retweet, post or even write about another person’s publication. According to an infographic on Mashable.com, “sites you visit may be blocked, email providers may be forced to censor certain links you send or receive” and “the links and content you share on social networks will be carefully monitored and possibly censored.”

I just have one question . . . where are my privacy rights?

A threat to our future?

SOPA also threatens the future of job searching and innovation through online techniques. Sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook have recently been job searchers’ platforms for getting their names into the industry market.

Unlike traditional resume builders, LinkedIn, a professional social media site, allows individuals to offer links to personal sites such as Twitter and Facebook accounts, upload professional résumés and add photos to your profile.

Are we all going to have to resort back to the simple résumés built on Microsoft Word? This limit on creativity could be the catalyst for never getting that dream job.

Those of us searching for a job in this ever-so-difficult market need to have the ability to put our names out there in ways that show off our individuality. The sites Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have given us that opportunity.

In retaliation to the serious risk the bill is imposing, AOL, eBay, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Mozilla, Twitter, Yahoo and Zynga sent a letter to the U.S. Congress voicing their concerns.

These companies respect the goal of enforcing additional tactics to combat illegitimate copyright and counterfeit sites. But, they urge the legislators to “preserv[e] the innovation and dynamism that [have] made the Internet such an important driver of economic growth and job creation.”

Instead of tweeting about Kourtney Kardashian’s recent pregnancy announcement or who will play in the national college football championship, maybe we should all be concerned with the direction the Internet is going. Are all of our posts, tweets and blog postings going to be accused of counterfeit?

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Beyond the headline

by Alex Reichenbach

There is one writing tool that all PR practitioners know like the back of their hand — the press release.

This basic “who, what, when, where, why and how” document has always been a major component of the public relations industry. But many of us fail to realize there is a science behind this straightforward, informational piece.

Dan Zarella, social media scientist at Hubspot, shared secrets in a Webinar that go beyond the simple writing components and into the actual data behind the effectiveness of press releases.

We all know press releases are distributed to a variety of media outlets. But how can we really determine whether or not viewers are reading the press release? Hubspot has partnered with PRNewswire and gained valuable information that has made a great impact on the effectiveness of press releases.

Zarella believes looking at the total views will reveal statistics of the release that will help publishers reach a higher number of viewers.

According to Zarella, the total views represents the total amount of times someone has looked at a release, whether it was through RSS feeds, e-mails, search engines or other outlets. An important aspect of the total views is the fact that it calculates the number of times someone reads the actual release, NOT just the headline.

Now let’s look at a variety of ways you can publish a release to reach the highest number of viewers.

What day should you publish?

Every day of the week has a different number of total views. Surprisingly, the most effective day to publish a press release is either Saturday or Sunday. This seems shocking to me, being that Saturdays and Sundays are considered days of leisure for many. But Zarella has a very interesting reasoning behind this.

“If everyone at a party was screaming and shouting, you would have to yell just to be heard,” Zarella said. “But if you say something awkward, you will be heard.”

In other words, it’s not the norm to publish a press release on the weekends, while it is extremely popular in the middle of the week. If you choose to publish on these seemingly awkward days, you will most likely be noticed.

What time should you publish?

The time of day you choose to publish a release may be the most important factor when calculating the total views. For those of you who stay up late, you’ll be happy to know press releases published between 12 and 1 a.m. are correlated with a higher number of total views. If you think about it, when publishers arrive to work early in the morning, they are most likely going to see your release before anyone else’s.

Zarella mentioned a benefit of publishing at these hours that had never crossed my mind. If your press release is intended for viewers across the world, these hours are very accommodating to time zones outside of the U.S. Your press release will capture a global audience.

How many characters in a headline?

What’s so important about the number of letters in a headline? Believe it or not, the headline is the most important aspect of the press release. If it doesn’t appeal to the reader, there is no reason for them to read what you have to say.

According to Zarella, the secret behind an effective headline is to stay between 120 and 140 characters. This is especially important when promoting a release through social media outlets. Social media users would understand how posts more than 140 characters are boring and most likely overlooked.

To be effective with your headlines, stick to the basics and know how to appeal to your readers.

Are pictures really worth it?

Publishing a release with photos is correlated with much higher total views. This shouldn’t surprise any of us. If we are browsing the Internet, we are prone to click on a picture to read more, rather than a bunch of words.

Publishers who include a picture with their release are setting themselves apart from other publishers and will be more successful in reaching their target audiences.

The successful press release

Press releases are writing tools that are used on a day-to-day basis. In the public relations world, publishing your press release can be extremely competitive. By following these Hubspot secrets, you can be certain your release will not only be published, but also read by your viewers.

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Putting the “relations” in public relations job searching

by Hope Peterson

I can think of few things more nerve-racking than entering the real world. It’s frightening to think of a place without the cushion of our parents’ security blanket, familiar faces and the excuse, “I’m only young once.”

However, entering that place should be a little less intimidating for PR students like us. The scary black hole of the real world should seem a little less unsettling.

Now, it’s a given that grades are important, but the key to obtaining the interview and holding the job is delivering greatness in person. You can’t get that from a transcript.

PR teaches communication, which places its students ahead of their competition. Through effective communication practices, PR students are familiar with the “how-to’s” of networking and interviewing.

First, the more people you know, the easier it is to do your job as a PR professional. Logically, networking before and after obtaining an interview is crucial.

This is not to say that “sucking up” is beneficial, because often that can lead to more name calling than job offers. But rather, it’s the art of knowing how to establish connections that will get you the phone call for an interview.

An article on the PRSSA website defines networking as “a supportive system of sharing information and services among individuals and groups having a common interest.”

There are two types of networking: “social and real world.”

PR professional Derek Devries said on his blog that is it important to create social media pages such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to establish your online identity the way you wish to be perceived. Devries said, “In your spare time you need to be blogging, tweeting, posting, liking, creating, and sharing content with the goal of creating a big footprint for people to find when they’re searching the web.”

As Devries put it, “just do something” to force yourself to be seen by others.

Next, real world networking includes most social interactions dealt with in every day life. Everyone you meet is important; every party you attend, after-class talk with your teacher, dinner with your friends’ parents or lunch with your sorority adviser could lead to something more.

Devries advised in his blog to “take these opportunities: they can be the difference between starting a new career OR moving back home with mom & dad when you graduate.”

But it takes a little more than a smile and a “how are you?” to establish a connection. You need to separate yourself from the crowd. Devries said that PR students are ahead because they never enter “blindly.” He said to always be prepared for social situations with a professional and online presence, business cards, notes and information for small talk.

After ensuring plenty of successful connections, the interview is next.

It should go without saying that PR students should be able to communicate and carry on conversations; putting the relations in public relations comes with the degree, right?

An article on PR Daily advises students who are interviewing to do their homework about the company, practice common manners, maintain appropriate work-related conversation and follow up without stalking.

Basically the tips can be summed up through one over-arching statement — learn how to connect with people to establish a relationship.

Graduating with a PR degree might just make that jump into that real work a little less scary. PR doesn’t just tell us to make an impression, but teaches us how. Effective communication is key.

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The three Rs according to Soledad

by Amber Parker

“Ratings, Revenue and Reputation . . . [are] ingredients for a bottom line franchise,” said Soledad O’Brien in her discussion on diversity with University of Alabama students Nov. 9. Because much of the internationally known journalist’s recognition comes from CNN’s “In America” documentary series, I wonder: How much do people care about topics surrounding minority groups? How have they impacted CNN? How have they impacted O’Brien? And most of all, how have they impacted the “bottom line”?

Ratings

The “In America” Series started in 2008 with Black in America. The two-part documentary focused on exposing disparities in education, the prison system and single parenthood, as well as the toll that HIV/AIDs has had on communities. In July of the same year, the documentary garnered approximately 2.6 million viewers. Black in America 2 aired in the summer of 2009 with a less impressive 1.4 million viewers, yet it still managed to outperform other cable documentaries from all other networks that year. It is safe to say that the “In America” series started off strong, piquing national interest in areas that had received limited coverage prior to these exposés.

However, the ratings really began to drop when “Latino in America” aired in 2010. According to a Huffington Post article, it “drew an average of 1,007,000 total viewers and 293,000 A25-54 viewers. That’s down 45% in total viewers from the debut episode of July’s ‘Black in America’.” Based on these numbers, one has to wonder if stories like these have fleeting appeal.

Revenue

It is unclear how much money CNN makes from O’Brien’s documentaries or how much money she generates personally. But it is clear that high ratings do correlate with the amount of revenue amassed by the network and, in turn, the individual.

The following is a list of O’Brien’s most recent work: “Don’t Fail Me: Education in America,” “The Women Who Would be Queen,” “Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door,” “Pictures Don’t Lie,” “Almighty Debt,” “Rescued” and “Gary and Tony Have a Baby.” Each of these relates to concerns of minority groups, with topics ranging from homosexuality to religious acceptance. Since 9/11, O’Brien has provided in-depth coverage of a wide range of underrepresented groups, ultimately earning the respect of her peers and even her critics.

Reputation

“For me it’s about the story, it’s about telling the stories of amazing people all across this great country and the world,” O’Brien said.

This journalist has used stories to catapult herself as a trustworthy source in the sphere of journalism. In early 2012, she will return to CNN’s “American Mornings” as an anchor. After years of rotating hosts for the morning talk show due to poor ratings, the producers decided to take a shot with O’Brien. I am sure CNNhopes her reputation will help to turn the show around and eventually bring both ratings and revenue to CNN.

During a reception prior to her speech, she expressed her excitement about returning to daily news. She hopes that she can bring new perspective to the show by continuing to tell the stories of the world’s underrepresented people every day.

If CNN’s producers are right this time, O’Brien’s return will prove that of the three Rs, reputation is the most important.

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Throwback throwaways

by Jaley Cranford

As I punched the button for a familiar soda choice, I awaited a familiar purple can. But the purple marketing blunder that I grabbed was a far cry from the Grapico can of my childhood.

Though the packaging bears no influence on the familiar taste of the grape soda, I was incapable of enjoying it. This horrific rebranding begged the question: what guy at Grapico fell asleep at the wheel and sent this idea forward?

Grapico has long been packaged in a purple can with a diagonal text logo.

The rebranding shows a grape that I expect to dance at any moment accompanied by a new tagline: A Southern Tradition.

Conflicting ideas? Anyone who is drawn to the clipart-esque cartoon of a grape is probably more interested in when Dora the Explorer airs than the idea of Southern tradition. More than the obvious discrepancy . . . and tagline . . . and art, this product looks like an off-brand soda. When I first saw this can, I paid no mind and assumed that someone had brought a can of Walmart grape soda from home. Is that the way Buffalo Rock wants to market Grapico?

Maybe the soda market is a breeding ground for bad rebranding ideas. Mountain Dew, Mellow Yellow and Grapico have all done a round of throwback cans recently. But apparently Mountain Dew and Pepsi throwbacks are here to stay.

Bevreview.com reported Buffalo Rock announced both Pepsi and Mountain Dew would be available in a throwback can or bottle for the indefinite future. Due to overwhelming positive responses from fans, the soda company kept this

Who are these adoring fans? Who are the millions in love with these cartoon relics that are a mockery of design? Apparently some such fans are running Grapico.

According to an article on al.com, Buffalo Rock execs said, “This ‘new retro’ look brings together the nostalgic best of Grapico’s proud history and the ever-growing popularity of the same grape great taste.”

The article continued with a quote from another proud figurehead. “We really wanted to splice something old with something new to create a new look for Grapico and Diet Grapico,” said Buffalo Rock Chairman/CEOJames C. Lee III.

New? I’m still searching. Maybe it’s the clipart grape . . . that was new . . . in 1998. I’m not against throwback packaging. But this Grapico has turned into a big purple mess.

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Storytelling: the core of PR

by Bailey Carpenter

Public relations students like myself tend to share certain traits: we’re decent writers suffering from a Twitter addiction, we utterly despise math and we tend to get too excited in the grocery store when we see good rebranding. We have also chosen to study and practice public relations because we are drawn to a field that is constantly updating and changing — offering us something new every day.

Both PR practitioners and students are continuously asking What’s the next big thing? What’s in store for the future of PR? As graduation approaches, my classmates and I become more and more obsessed with what the future of PR may hold and how keeping up with the future might give us an edge in the job market.

This year, the annual PRSA International Conference was themed “Envisioning the future of public relations.” The conference, held Oct. 15-18 in Orlando, Fla., featured presentations from more than 150 PR professionals. According to the PRSA website, these sessions aimed to help the conference attendees “learn the latest strategies in communications from the visionaries who imagine and create the most innovative techniques in the business.”

However, with all the hype about the future and “the next big thing,” it’s now more important than ever to remember the basic foundation of PR: creating messages aimed at target audiences that are conveyed after establishing relationships with those publics.

Johna Burke, senior vice president of marketing at Burrelles_Luce_, led a session at this year’s PRSA conference on the importance of storytelling in a world focused on digital communication.

In an Oct. 27 blog post Tressa Robbins summarized Burke’s session. “Burke began by stressing that storytelling is the core competency in the public relations profession, next to great writing,” Robbins said. “No more is it just local library readings, storytelling festivals and other analog channels.”

“Storytelling” may seem like a term that supports the idea that PR is “spin,” but in reality, PR practitioners do tell stories. They create messages and must find the right ways to relay these messages so that their publics will pay attention to them in a world bombarded with hundreds of media forms and constantly updating channels.

According to Robbins, Burke said the most important things to consider when conveying a key message are to reach your audience using the appropriate media, understand your publics and use the resources your organization provides in an economical way.

“Public relations professionals must leverage the art form — make your story compelling, make it stand out,” Robbins said. “Blasting your message out to the masses is not the way to reach everyone.”

Because the conference was in Orlando, Burke chose to use Walt Disney as an example of a great storyteller. “He knew that kids were his primary market, yet he recognized his secondary market was the parents… he also didn’t forget there’s always a tertiary market—audiences we may not have originally anticipated,” Robbins said.

It’s easy to lose sight of the message’s importance and the story behind it when you’re concentrating on getting that message across every possible medium.

“[Burke] warns us to beware of the desire to be the newest, coolest — using the ‘all sizzle, no steak’ analogy. People see through this, and will not support long-time relationships, which is what you need,” Robbins said.

While we need to remain focused on the future and adapt to the “digital age,” we also need to know when to take a step back and remember that those in public relations should always do just that — relate.

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