PR In Progress


Thoughts on Public Relations, Communications, Social Media, Sports and anything else in my life…

Is Spin Really Bad?

Whether you are a seasoned practitioner or a student currently studying public relations, chances are you have some opinion on spin.

This past Monday, Penelope Trunk, author of Brazen Careerist: The New Rules for Success, gave a speech at the 2008 PRSSA National Conference in Detroit in which she referenced spin. I cannot remember her exact quote, but it was along the lines of spin being at tool that all practitioners should know how to use.

Penelope Trunk never once said that spin was the tool of choice of pr practitioners, nor did she even allude to using it improperly. She just explained that at some point in a PR practitioner’s career, they will use spin.

What do you think? Do you agree?

To me, her statement echoed a couple of things I’ve heard and believe. The first being you shouldn’t surround yourself with people who only tell you things you want to hear. You need that difference of opinion to shed light on different ideas and to foster discussion. (There was an uncomfortable exchange between Penelope Trunk and the host of the event which triggered countless discussions of spin.)

The other thing I’ve come to realize is that spin isn’t necessarily bad. Spin can mean shedding light on good efforts during a bad situation. You don’t always have to think of spin as hiding the bad. It is possible to deal with bad situations without creating some sort of “cover-up.”

I’ve been taught that spin is bad. Don’t sping things, blah blah blah. But why? Why wouldn’t you use spin when the weather is right? It’s about time that people start thinking outside the box and seek out cases where spin was used positively. (This is like case study books–there are never failed cases in those textbooks. How about showing spin in a different light?)

I completely agree with Penelope Trunk. PR practitioners will use some form of spin during their career. It is up to them to decide how they will use it and to abide by the ethics of the profession.


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Service Learning–Any Thoughts?

The University of South Florida, like many other colleges and universities around the world, offers service learning courses to students to bridge the gap between classroom theory and real world application.

This form of instruction has become the focus of my Advanced Public Relations team’s campaign. We are researching the attitudes and behaviors of USF faculty who are engaged in service learning to develop a greater understanding of service learning’s impact on student’s education. We are also seeking out limitations and negative implications regarding service learning, along with the positives, to develop a strategic plan to promote service learning among USF Faculty and help them realize its mutual benefit to students and the surrounding community.

I want to reach out to anyone who has either taught a service learning course, taken one or both. I want to hear your thoughts on this and further understand the attitudes surrounding service learning.  Is it good, bad, tedious, useless, anything?

This inquiry will not be included in our research study, but it is a way for me to gain knowledge on service learning and branch out from one public to get a larger perspective. Also, my Advanced PR class is a service learning course and I’m interested to see if your perspective matches mine.

That being said…Here’s how I feel about service learning as a student currently in a service learning course: It’s tough, time-consuming, aggrivating and stressful. It is also fun, exciting, beneficial and a great way to practice your core PR skills.  I love the class structure and the amount of work involved, but I feel like I’m a minority on this issue. Any students feel the same way? Complete opposite? 

This was a curious post to see if anyone had any thoughts on the issue and wanted to share. I’d love to hear from you!

Listed below are some very general questions we are looking to have answered through our research.

What are your perceptions on this type of learning?
Is it a better structure for learning?
Any negative thoughts on service learning?

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What Are Your Top 10 1980’s Songs?

Karen Russel from Teaching PR tagged me in the “Top 10 80’s Songs” meme and so I thought I would share my picks. I mixed it up a little and threw in some songs that I really like from the 80’s that others may not have (A.K.A. some country songs).

In no particular order:

  • Don’t Close Your Eyes – Keith Whitley
  • Summer of ’69 – Bryan Adams
  • Sweet Child O’ Mine – Guns N Roses
  • Here I Go Again – Whitesnake
  • Jessie’s Girl – Rick Springfield
  • Fishin’ in the Dark – Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
  • Every Rose Has Its Thorn – Poison
  • Africa – Toto
  • Power of Love – Huey Lewis and the News
  • Better Man – Clint Black

I had to leave some out, but these are worthy of my top 10.

Alisha Levin, Dris Stephen, Lara Kretler and Kelli Burns: What are your favorite songs of the 80’s?

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A Lesson in Leadership

A key trait great leaders share is humility. Great leaders are able to disregard their preconceptions and look at situations objectively. Arrogance and pride never factor into decisions, which are made for the greater good of the group or organization. Critical thinking and the ability to care are essential tools in a great leader’s toolkit.

Are you a great leader?

In the six short years the state of Florida has allowed me to work legally, I have encountered great leaders. In the same time span, I have encountered many bad leaders. Most of these bad leaders weren’t horrible people, but people who didn’t possess any leadership qualities. Time and maturity could cure these people.

The great leaders I have had the honor of working with all shared the aforementioned qualities. The most amazing trend I witnessed, though, was the fact that they didn’t have to try to lead–they just did it. It came naturally to them and they made the workplace somewhere enjoyable to work. They also became great mentors of mine, coaching me in the many decisions I’ve made.

The reason I’m posting this is that lately, I have some experiences that have taught me a few lessons in leadership. These are a few things that I’ve picked up on that aspiring leaders should learn:

  • Care about people. Take the time to tell someone that you appreciate what they are doing and that they have an impact on the world around them.
  • Listen to people. Employees and teammates have great ideas as well. Allow them to present their insights and you could find your group or organization performing better.
  • Lighten Up. Work doesn’t have to always be serious. Allowing employees to have fun and be productive at the same time will create a better work atmosphere, potentially improving quality.
  • Delegate tasks. You may feel like you have all the answers and are the only one who can do the work, but give employees the chance to showcase their abilities. This creates a win-win situation, giving you a break and giving employees the satsifaction of being involved.
  • Admit your mistakes. Never cover up mistakes or place blame on others. When you admit your faults, you allow yourself to be human and be a better role model for employees. Plus, mistakes always comeback to bite you one way or another!

Take a look around you some time and see if you notice people who embody these traits. Do you find yourself looking up to them?

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School Is About To Start, How Can Social Media Help?

It’s that time again! You guessed it, FOOTBALL SEASON!! For those of you who aren’t football fans, this time of the year is also known as the start of the Fall semester. The lovely time of year where we fall victim to outrageous textbook prices and professors who must teach with the 12th edition. Ah yes, the time when our bank accounts seem as though they’ve undergone gastric bypass surgery because of the rapid decrease in size. The joyful college experience…

The onset of a new semester does provide me with some anxiousness. I finally get to use the social media tools I’ve been exploring to supplement my coursework. I’ve spent some time creating ideas about how to use new media tools to my advantage in my quest of higher learning and so I’ve decided to create a list of ways I’ll be using social media tools to enhance my studies in hopes of inspiring you to do so as well.

1. Actively blog about topics discussed in class to further expand your understanding.
2. Read blogs about topics discussed in class to expand your understanding.
3. Use Twitter to pose questions, using your network to identify different angles.
4. Share interesting things you learn in class via Twitter,, Digg, blogs, etc.
5. Use RSS feeds to supplement your text, lectures, etc.
6. Use social networking sites for collaboration, research, idea generation and editing.
7. Explore other avenues of social media and learn to adapt them to your needs as a student.

I’m aware that 7 is an odd number to stop at, but that’s all I could come up with right now. These are just a few quick ideas I have for using social media as an aide–I know there are many more. Besides, you are already using Google and Wikipedia for research, why not expand to authoritative blogs and your social networks?

What uses of social media can you come up with for supplementing your coursework?

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Something Larger Than Myself

This is going to be a very eclectic post.

First off, I’d like to thank the 2008-2009 USF PRSSA Executive Board for allowing me the opportunity to join them. Two weeks ago, Lauren Opelt, President of the Walter E. Griscti Chapter of PRSSA, offered me the Director of Markting position for our chapter and I accepted. By accepting this position, I join a team of very talented and remarkable PR students that will lead the chapter to great success.

That being said, I can’t help but feel overwhelmed by this. I believe most of my anxiousness is derived from treading into uncharted waters. This is a completely new experience and therein lies the most exciting aspect. I have to jump headfirst into an area which I know little about and push the limits of my own abilities. Luckily, I will not be alone. I have the full support of my peers and I know everything will turn out fine.

Aside from that, I have found my way onto Twitter. Like many people, I was very skeptical of Twitter at first. After reading Lara Kretler’s blog, I decided to give Twitter a try and was very surprised at how intriguing it really is. Now, I have fully embraced Twitter and have even started to think of applications for Twitter in a PR classroom setting. TwitterReleases anyone?

After immersing myself in Twitter, I decided that I should dedicate more time to social media. I then proceeded to create a MyRagan account and a LinkedIn account. I found out fast that the social media bug is highly infectious. The best part about social media is the fact that we’ve only scratched the surface of possibilities. I can’t wait to see the next new thing!

Thank you for reading all the way through this post. It was very scattered, but I needed to put into writing what I was thinking. Hopefully, I will see all of you on Twitter, myRagan, and LinkedIn!

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What’s Your Ladder To Success?

Since beginning college, my main focus has been to obtain the best education I can and become a successful PR practitioner. In do so, I was urged to create goals and plan my route to attaining these goals.  My father, who is a PR practitioner, has always urged me to aim high and settle for nothing less than my best effort. It was his advice that has propelled me through my first three years of college and will continue to resonate throughout my career.

My question for you is: What path have you created for your success in the PR profession? Whether you are a student or not, how have you mapped your goals?

If you are a student and you haven’t carved out some plan for yourself, then maybe this will help get you started:

1. Focus on your writing. Jump at every opportunity you have to write. Blog, freewrite, join the newspaper staff, ANYTHING. The most important skill any PR practitioner possesses is their ability to write.

2. Read. Read newspapers, blogs, magazines, newsletters or anything you can get your hands on. Pay attention to what is happening in the world as well as what is happening in the PR realm.

3. Join a professional or pre-professional organization. PRSA, PRSSA, FPRA and IABC are all great organizations to be a part of. They are great for mentorship and networking. These are the people who are there for you and can help you get internships and jobs. The workshops and educational opportunities through these organizations are invaluable.

4. Get an internship. The best thing you can do to supplement your education is to intern. Gain the valuable on-the-job experience you cannot get in the classroom. There are tons of internships available–some are even paid!

5. Consult Professors and Advisors. You are paying to get an education, therefore use the resources available to you. Professors and advisors are there to educate you, but also to guide you and help you develop as a young professional. I have consulted my professors many times, especially for problems and decisions that fall outside of the syllabus. (I landed my internship with the help of my profressor.)

If you address each of these points, you will notice your knowledge base grow. Set goals and work extremely hard to attain them and you will be among the other elite graduates. Since PR is growing at a rapid rate and jobs are largely competitive, it only benefits you to gain the best education and be as knowledgeable about PR as you can when you graduate.

I’m heeding this advice, you should too. Want to join me?

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Changes and Cohen’s Insult

After a few days of pondering my blog and its content (or lack thereof), I have decided to both rename it and change my direction. I am going to write about the entire realm of PR, not solely writing. I have to do this because PR is so fascinating and diverse that limiting myself to one aspect wouldn’t allow me the experience I know blogging will provide. I apologize for the abrupt change and hope you enjoy my future posts!

That being said, as public relations professionals, what is your take on Andrew Cohen’s blatant attack on PR’s credibilty?

Watch this video if you have not heard his comments:

Cohen Comments on PR


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