COMM 368 – No Texting Please

A lot of people think medical students and business students are the only ones that work their butts off in school. Um, think again. Let me just tell you that PR is no joke.

Something that makes taking a challenging course easier and more bearable is when you are privileged to have an encouraging instructor who wants nothing more than to see their students succeed. Ms. Mullen truly embodies a respectable, helpful, wise, and vivacious professor.

Photo Credit: lucasjsaunders via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: lucasjsaunders via Compfight cc

Throughout my college career thus far, I can honestly say that I haven’t had many professors who seem over-the-top excited to teach the class(es) that they are teaching. I will say the opposite about Ms. Mullen. I’m not brown-nosing or trying to get a good grade on an assignment when I say this. I mean it. Mullen radiates such joy and passion for her job. Her zeal for life and teaching impacted more students than she’s even aware of, and made coming to class not so dreadful.

Having a positive, life-giving professor truly makes all of the difference.

Some students consider a professor to be “good” if they allow students to text, talk, etc. during class.

I disagree with those students. A great professor and great class is comprised of  individuals who respect themselves and others enough not to waste each others time. No, Mullen did not allow us to be on our phones, and that is fine by me.

This class taught me not only what it means to be an effective PR professional, but also how to be a respectful, respectable, and an all-around better person. I also learned good work ethic, and that communication in the PR world is vital. Too, don’t just plan to plan…actually get SH*T done!




PRSA & PR – Role Play

In the world of PR, there is an organization that brings more than 22,000 professionals together – Public Relations Society of America, PRSA. PRSA is the nation’s largest community of public relations and communications professionals. They provide “training, set standards of excellence and uphold principles of ethics for the global public relations profession.”

By joining PRSA, you can boost your career through networking, developmental and accreditation programs.

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Photo Credit: brucewyne via Compfight cc

“As a leading voice in the PR industry, we also advocate for greater understanding and adoption of public relations services.” This organization does everything they can to help develop future and current PR professionals – their goal is to develop the profession and the professional.

By being a member, you can know the latest trends through PRSA’s printed materials.

PRSA’s job center offers guidance for resumes and careers and has a place to post your resume free of charge. This organization really helps bridge the gap between employees and strategy.

“If you want to make contacts, be recognized for your work, enhance your professional skills, stay on top of emerging trends and otherwise accelerate your PR career, PRSA is the organization for you.”

PRSA also offers a way to help people obtain jobs in the professional world. “PRSA Jobcenter puts more than 2,000 public relations, communications and marketing jobs within easy reach.” This alone is a good enough reason to join PRSA. There are so many instances where people have trouble finding jobs, so having the resources to find jobs in your field is great!

Here is a list of what being a member of PRSA will do for you:

  • Provide immediate training on the latest tactics and strategies through online and in-person events.
  • Help build business through connections to an engaged network of more than 22,000 colleagues.
  • Keep your team up to date on the latest PR news and industry headlines that are making an impact.
  • Offer inspiration and insights on what works (and what doesn’t) through a database of Silver Anvil Award-winning case studies and research.

If you join PRSA as a new Group the Initiation Fee is waived for new members. You can go online and request a quote.

Nationwide is on Your Side…Well, Kind of

Super Bowl 2015 made me weep. Not because the Seahawks had the worst final play of the year. Because, Nationwide’s “Make Safe Happen” campaign scared the crap out of me, sending me running all over my employers’ house checking for small bodies in overflowing bathtubs, behind cars, under sinks and on the cement beneath two story windows.

Photo Credit: karlsruhde via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: karlsruhde via Compfight cc

As a nanny, I get that Nationwide wants guardians, parents and any responsible adult to think about the dangers in their own homes. But, really? During Super Bowl XLIX? When I’m about to watch Katy Perry roar all over the 50 yard line?

I’ll be the first to admit the efficacy of Nationwide’s commercials. Wow! I stayed up half the night recovering from the thought that I might someday be responsible for killing a little boy or girl, because I failed to put the lid back on the bleach. So, yes, it was effective… at making my throat catch, my emotions do a little flip flop between quarters and my star-at-halftime dreams turn into nightmares.

Commercials with woeful tunes in the background are always grounds for suspicion. Think of Hallmark or the Sarah McLachlan ASPCA ads. If you haven’t considered buying your sibling or parent a card or picking up a dog for them by the end of the 60 second spot, then your heart is harder than my mom’s granite countertop. Needless, to say, when they start to play, the TV goes on mute or I try to make the moment a little bit lighter by singing with Sarah to the tune of Old McDonald.

If parents worldwide didn’t spend an extra ten minutes tucking their kids in while spouses put childproof locks on cabinets and inserted bigger overflow gaskets, then Nationwide spent a million dollars too many on their safety campaign.

I Have Just A Few Questions…

Dr. Lori Henson is currently a professor at Indiana State University. She started out as a reporter at the Tribune Star during her undergrad years. She then went on to work for the Savannah Morning News in Georgia. Later, Henson moved to Idaho. After her trek across the U.S, she made her way to Terre Haute to teach college students at the university. My favorite quote by her is, “Reporting was like playing for me.”

What’s a typical week like?

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Photo Credit: leyrlo☂ via Compfight cc

I would come in to work…there would be a couple of ongoing stories that I’d be working on continually. Some random story might come up. It’s important to be able to manage time. In working for a newspaper, there will be newsworthy stuff, but the majority of it you have to come up with…a lot of time is spent talking with people.

Tell me about a project you worked on that you are especially proud of.

I was a part of a business team (Economy team) in Georgia. I covered agriculture as a business. The team did a series called “Changing the face of farming, ” (6 part series). As a group, we looked at developments of farming (trade, technology, scientific development). This series became popular enough, so it ran as its own section.

What do you do to keep current in the journalism industry?

I read anything and everything every day (Ex: Colombia journalism review, Jim Romenesko-columnist). I try to keep up with students, where they’re working and what’s happening.

What do you wish you would have known before starting your career in journalism?

People need to understand that the job is the job. You leave the office, go talk to people, and you tell their stories. There are certain glamourous aspects of working for some jobs, but you need to love the actual work.

How important is writing in your career?

Very important. It’s everything.

What three tips would you offer someone just starting out in journalism?

  1. Get an internship
  2. Be curious
  3. Don’t second guess yourself. If you have a question, ask it.

After interviewing this person, are you (the student, not the practitioner) more or less likely to want to have a career in journalism? Why?

I never thought that journalism would be something that I would want to do, but Dr. Henson definitely sparked an interest. She spoke so enthusiastically and passionately about journalism, and that is honestly what changed my mind about working as a journalist. She made the job sound fun and not so much like a job, rather a privilege and “play” time.

Did your education prepare you for working in journalism? How?

Yes. BUT…After my first class I pretty much got it. It’s all about practice. It’s not about mastering a particular writing style. It’s about knowing how to think. If you don’t know what’s fair and just in the world, then you don’t have anything to write about.

How does technology affect your daily work?

Technology is a means to our end. The more technology, the more ways we have to tell a story. Technology is a toolkit. News has to get around. Technology is important but it doesn’t define what we do. We use equipment to get our ideas across, but it does not limit us.

What professional organizations are you involved in?

Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, International Communication Association, Society of Professional Journalists, National Association of Black Journalists.

Connect with Dr. Henson on LinkedIn.

Just A Little White Lie

Ethics….We have all heard of this term, but what in the world is it? Ethics has been defined as: a theory or a system of moral values.

As a pastors daughter, I have always been expected to live and behave in an ethical manner. As years have progressed, I have seen how the ethics I grew up abiding by actually translate into REAL LIFE – the professional world.

For some, honesty is the best and ONLY policy, while others muddy the truth and are okay with “little lies.” One thing that I have learned is that a little white lie is still a lie, and can get you in just as much trouble as a “big” lie. Too, withholding information can also be perceived as lying.

Transparency is the best option in life, but especially in the PR world. “Protecting integrity and the public trust are fundamental to the profession’s role and reputation.” The public wants to know that they can trust the PR professional that they are working with. Makes sense, right? “Bottom line, successful public relations hinges on the ethics of its practitioners.”

The public is NOT okay with lies, not even little white ones. The characteristic that differentiates a mediocre PR professional from a superb one is the ability to be completely honest and transparent no matter what the situation.

“To help members navigate ethics principles and applications, the Society created, and continues to maintain, the PRSA Code of Ethics. Under the Code, widely regarded as the industry standard, members pledge to core values, principles and practice guidelines that define their professionalism and advance their success.”

The PRSA code of ethics exists for the betterment of PR professionals and is expected to be followed.

“Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do.” – Potter Stewart

Importance of Research in PR

There is a lot of hard work that goes into being an effective PR professional. A key component to being an efficient public relations professional is research.

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Photo Credit: net_efekt via Compfight cc

“Formulating strategic public relations plans for your small business involves conducting some research, whether it is through customer surveys or other methods of data gathering. Public relations workers may give their opinions and recommendations on conducting research, but top management needs to understand the importance of the research and make informed decisions on how to proceed.”

A lot of times, people unintentionally insert bias. Researching thoroughly can eliminate bias. “Research gives the leaders of a company a realistic picture of how various members of the public perceive the organization. If the leaders and public relations workers in a company were to rely solely on their own biased opinions of how the public views the organization, they would risk not really knowing if the organization’s public image needs to be improved.”

Research shows what interests the public so the organization will have a better understanding of what to focus on and how they should market themselves. “Research for a public relations plan should involve a non-biased assessment of the organization itself.” This is why knowing what the public wants is so important.

Also, by being informed on what interests the public, the organization will know how they should devise a public relations messaging plan. Intensive research on groups the organization interacts with equips them with a list of media forms the various groups engage in, letting the organization know the most adequate technique of conveying its message.

“After a public relations plan has been formulated and then put into practice, additional research provides feedback on the actual public relations plan.” This research shows the organization if they have been effective in their approach, and to what degree.

Getting feedback allows the organization to make changes/adjustments to their public relations plan for the betterment of the company.

Relationship Status of PR & Social Media

Over the course of the past decade or so, technology has really upped its game, especially concerning social media. Some social media sites have come and gone, and others have
come and stayed. Sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. have been used as tools to help promote businesses, products, and people. Social Media has been a way for corporations/companies to advertise their brand(s).

“The widespread use of social media has fundamentally changed how people communicate and share information.” Studies and research has shown how more people are reached via social media than any other avenue. In this day in age, humans are obsessed with being connected with one another via Twitter, etc. We spend the majority of our time on social media, rather than having human-to-human interactions. For a lot of businesses, this is a wonderful thing. “This downright addiction to social media has made an impact in virtually every industry as companies seek to create strategies to engage on the social web.”

Our infatuation with social media is providing businesses with an audience that is far reaching. Social media has given PR professionals a way to sweep the world with information in a very timely manner. The use of hashtags and certain keywords have been ways for consumers to connect with producers/business professionals via Twitter and Facebook. From personal experience, I think hashtags are brilliant. By hashtagging a tweet, I have had the opportunity to associate myself with professionals that I otherwise wouldn’t have come in contact with.

This is a prime example of how social media can benefit both the consumer and PR professional. “Public relations is certainly no exception as practitioners seek to communicate with, and hear from consumers, as well as using social channels to share information with key audiences.”

– Leisel