PR In Progress

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

Dusting Off The Keyboard

Let me first begin by apologizing for letting so much time lapse before cranking out a new post. These past two months have been extremely hectic. 

So, what’s new? I’ve been working extremely hard alongside my fellow USF Bateman Team members on our campaign, College Bound Tampa. We have been fortunate enough to work with some outstanding teens in the University Area of Tampa.

I also started a new internship with the Public Affairs office of the City of Tampa. I’ve kicked around the idea of going into public affairs once I graduate, so I figured this was the most logical step to take in the decision process. So far, it has been amazing. Check out the City of Tampa’s award winning Web site when you get a chance!

I feel ashamed of myself that I let so much time pass between posts. For a while there I thought I was going to give up, but I love writing too much to do that. Expect more posts. I promise.

Photo Credit: Erik

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Filed under: PRSSA, Public Relations, USF, Writing, , , , ,

Do you know as much as you think you do?

(Warning: Long, reflective post.)

Do you ever have moments when you silently reflect on the time you’ve invested in something and wonder if you’ve made the most out of it?

Throughout these past two week, I’ve begun to wonder if I’ve really pushed myself as much as I should have throughout the past three years of college. I would like to think so, but the honest truth is that I have not. I’ve tried to do my best, but I never quite shot for 110%.

Then I began to wonder if I truly knew as much about public relations as I thought I did. I got the same results–enough to get by, but not much more than that. After a few days of pondering this realization, I figured out why I haven’t pushed myself to the limit: Fear.

This sounds odd, but for my first three years of college, I dreaded registering for classes because I didn’t want to start taking upper-level classes for fear of failure. I was nervous to get an internship because I thought I would be a failure. Hell, I was nervous to start a blog for fear of embarassment.  Now, this all seems extremely silly.

Once I immersed myself in my classes, I surprised myself at how well I absorbed the information. I got an internship and learned many things to supplement my classes. I began to blog (obviously) and realized that readership isn’t something to worry about as long as you enjoy it and take something away.

My point with this little anecdote is that I’ve finally seen the larger picture. I now know attending class is just one factor in the college education equation. Going beyond the curriculum and putting your schoolwork to use is what really cements the ideas you learned together. Take the time to be curious.

While you’re at it, challenge yourself too! Now is the time to target your weaknesses and begin strengthening them. If you want to be a better writer, do so. You can join the school newspaper, start a blog, write for a newsletter or just free write. The best way to work on your weaknesses is force yourself to do whatever it is. I’m a poor public speaker. Therefore, I’ve begun to speak more in front of large groups and improve my speech at every opportunity. Practice makes perfect you better!

Also, set goals. If you take one thing from this lengthy post, let this be it. Creating a plan of action for yourself is one of the most important and positive things you can do. This gives you a road map of where you want to go and how to get there. Make the goals reachable, yet challenging. Track your progress and reward yourself as you reach them. Do this and you’re sure to set yourself up for success!

(Thanks for reading all the way to the bottom. I know the two of you who actually did so wish you had the time back, huh?)

Image Credit: ms.lume

Filed under: Reflection, School, Success, Writing

Social Media or Bust…Part 4

Facebook!

Everyone has their opinion of Facebook. Many like I, who wrote it off early on, have come around to Facebook and have realized the potential it has in business communications.

Facebook is essentially a social networking platform that enables users to network with people locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. Users create their own Facebook profile to suit the use they prefer, whether it is socially or professionally, and begin befriending other users they know or share common interests with. These connections then allow other users to join your network by searching for certain characteristics. From your birth date to the books you enjoy, anything you post on your profile is linked to others with the same information.

Probably the best feature of Facebook in my opinion is its simplicity. The general theme is very professional and aesthetically pleasing, allowing for more efficient use of its options. I appreciate the fact that they have made it to where nobody can personalize the theme, like users can on Myspace. It becomes cluttered and difficult to navigate when users begin customizing their profiles. Plus, when you are trying to find a specific piece of information, you know exactly where to look because it is located in the same place on your profile!

According to Facebook’s factsheet, they are currently tracking over 80 million active users. That means being a part of Facebook is quite possibly one of the best networking positions in which one can put their self, given you use it effectively suiting your needs.

What cCan I Do on Facebook?

Facebook has diversified since its inception, enabling boundless opportunities. The most basic capabilities of Facebook are photo, video and link sharing. Users can upload an unlimited amount of photos to their profile and even create online picture albums.

Recently, Facebook launched its online instant messaging utility, allowing you to communicate with friends who are online at the same time as you. The utility is located in the bottom right of the screen and shows you which friends are online and able to chat with.

A big addition to Facebook was when they decided to allow users to create applications with the Facebook platform. An infinite amount of applications have been created ranging from fans of a TV show to selecting friends for superlatives. Such specialization has allowed for increased interconnectivity and made it easier for targeting publics.

The other use of Facebook I find intriguing and will definitely explore is its advertising capabilities. Ads can be created for any number of purposes and can be specially targeted to certain publics. Though I haven’t had much interaction with the advertising portion, I do know they have a step by step process leading you through the creation of your advertisement and will work with you on placement, pricing, etc. This is available to registered users and businesses who create “business profiles”. Facebook also offers an online Marketplace to its users, serving as a Facebook classified section.

Applying Facebook to PR

In the world of PR, your network can make you and break you. A strong network is an essential tool in any practitioner’s toolkit. Luckily, the creators of Facebook had us in mind when they developed it.

Aside from networking, here are a few other PR Facebook applications:

  • Targeting key publics with an idea or news release.
  • Conducting research studies
  • Creating awareness campaigns
  • Workgroup collaboration
  • Press release distribution
  • PSAs
  • PR advertisements
  • Non-profit fundraising
  • Etc.

My Thoughts

As I’ve stated, I am in no way an expert on any social media tool. I have been using some tools for a little while now and have a basic understanding of them, but cannot completely relate to all the aspects available.

Facebook is probably the one social media tool that I have been using longer than any other. That being said, I haven’t exactly maximized my use of it to my benefit. I have found great success in networking with close friends and past friends who have re-connected with me. I have spent hours viewing online ads through the Marketplace for furniture and accessories and have even signed up for a couple neat applications. However, after reading about its uses and contemplating public relations applications, I’ve got a new-found respect for Facebook. Once again, never judge site by its homepage!

So, what are your thoughts on Facebook?

Filed under: Social Media, Toolkit, Writing

Social Media or Bust…Part 3

Micro-blogging

I felt it only natural to transition from my last blog post on blogging to micro-blogging and explain some of the ideas surrounding it. So, what’s difference between the two? Funny you should ask!

 

The best way I can differentiate the two would be that blogging is done on a hosted webpage that you create and includes a process of planning a writing to shed light on a topic or to educate readers on a topic. Blogs also enable two-way communication by allowing others to comment directly to the post, generating an online discussion. Micro-blogging is about shortening posts and quickly sending text, links, files, photos and videos to a network of your “followers”. Micro-blogs are particularly useful to update people on the status of someone or something.

 

I know there is much more to both than I explained but for the sake of brevity, I came up with that crude explanation.

Now, there are many tools for micro-blogging, but the main ones I’m aware of are: Twitter, Pownce, Tumblr, Jaiku and Hictu. Each has its own specialization, for example, Hictu is a video micro-blogging platform. Tumblr and Jaiku are capable of  text, file, link and photo sharing, while Twitter only allows text and links to be posted. Though I haven’t fully explored the other four, I am somewhat familiar with Twitter.

 

Ahh, Twitter

Twitter is one of the most widely used micro-blogging platforms right now due to its simplicity. According to its website, users need only answer one question: What are you doing? In 140 characters or less, you say whatever you like for your “followers” to read, allowing them to remain updated on you and your activities. Simple, huh?

Another cool feature of Twitter is the many ways of updating your status. You are able to update via your cell phone, instant messengers, your logged-in homepage, m.twitter.com and any third party application. I use the third party application, Twhirl. It offers every feature one needs to use Twitter, and is customizable for your taste.

 

 I’ve only been using Twitter now for about a month, but I’ve fallen completely in love with it. I have read some of the best web content pertaining to social media and public relations through posts by Twitterers in my network. I’ve even used it to pose questions and receive helpful feedback. Just this week, I found out about BlogOrlando through Twitter and then sent out an invitation for any Twitterers/bloggers in Tampa to join me in attending.

 

That being said, I find it especially important to note some very serious, yet amazing uses of Twitter:

  • Victims of the torrential flooding in Iowa were able to update family members, community members, media and the general public about minute to minute situations during the flooding. Visit IowaFlood to check it out.
  • Those affected by the Southern California wildfires were “tweeting” about the locations of the fires, current situations and anything people should know about the fires. Check out this article about Twitter’s use during this.

As for other uses of Twitter, I have come up with these:

  • Posing questions to colleagues
  • Collaborative thinking
  • Status updating
  • Linking to great blog posts and news articles
  • Practicing concise copywriting
  • Breaking news updates
  • Informal office intranet
  • News pitching
  • Job posting
  • Etc.

That is all I’m able to come up with right now. But as you can see, the opportunities for using Twitter are endless. You need to experience Twitter in order to get the full effect of its capabilties. I’ll bet dollars to donuts that if you gave Twitter a try, you’d get hooked. Just take a look around you, everybody’s in the Twitterverse! You can even follow me if you like–@natefuller.

 

What are your thoughts on Twitter? What value do you find in it? What other uses can you come up with for Twitter?

 

So, What ARE you doing?

Filed under: Internal Communication, Social Media, Toolkit, Writing

Social Media or Bust…Part 2

Blogging

 

A little secret nobody tells you when you start blogging is that it can be extremely addicting. Everyone has to find their niche and develop their own online presence. I chose to blog about public relations and my experiences as a PR student. I love every minute I spend reading, commenting and posting. A blog gives me the opportunity to express my thoughts about the field of PR and have professionals, academics and students give me feedback. Where else can one do this more efficiently than in the blogosphere?

 

That being said, I toyed with many ideas for writing this post and finally set my mind to one—tell everyone what I’ve learned through blogging and offer any first-timers some advice that took me a while to learn. After all, this is my “termblog” and reflection.

 

Please add anything to these very brief lists that you feel should be included. I am still a rookie and you seasoned veterans can shed light on much more than I can.

 

Posting

Throughout this project, I have taken special note of writing styles and techniques others have employed through blogging. I’m sure all of these points have been said before, but these are key things I’ve learned to keep in mind while writing my posts:

  • Plan your blog posts. You wouldn’t disseminate a half-hatched press release, so why would you post a half-hatched blog post?
  • Think brevity. In the course of a day, most bloggers will read 20 or more posts and don’t have time to digest your novel. Just give them the meat straight up.
  • Write casually. A blog is a non-traditional medium and doesn’t need to be written in an institutional voice. Put some of your character into your blog and people will enjoy it (hopefully).
  • Read other blogs. You can learn great writing habits by reading well-written blogs. Reading is fundamental to blogging, but you knew that, right?
  • LINK to others. If you pull nothing away from this list, let this one be it. Linking to other blogs, blog posts, websites, etc., is the way of the web. Allowing others to read original posts from which you have pulled something from enriches their time spent in the blogosphere and adds value to your post.

Etiquette

Once you have created a blog and have begun to actively post, you should take note of a few blogging etiquette pointers:

  • Praise, don’t criticize.
  • Research your information and only post solid facts. Assumptions have no place here.
  • Reply to comments that others leave for you (I’m guilty, and I’m very sorry!).
  • Link back to sources for attribution.
  • Be friendly. The blogosphere is an amazing network of individuals from all walks of life. You should embrace that and build relationships with people.

Networking

The beauty of the blogosphere is its interconnectivity. I can be sitting here in Tampa, sweating and cursing the hot weather while another person is sitting in San Diego enjoying beautiful sunshine, all the while keeping up a conversation about PR. Therefore, in order to develop your network and find contacts from all over, I’ve found these pointers to be helpful:

  • Follow a blog for a while and familiarize yourself with its content.
  • Add blogs you enjoy reading to your blogroll. Most bloggers will reciprocate.
  • Comment on a posts and invite others to your blog.
  • Subscribe to blogs and stay updated. Contribute to conversations and offer feedback when necessary.
  • Find bloggers on other social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. (You can find blogs by topic by using Technorati).

 

 The list could go on and on, but I must end it here. What networking tips do you have for newbies? What about blogging etiquette?

Filed under: Social Media, Toolkit, Writing

Social Media or Bust…Part 1

A Reflection and an Epiphany

When I began my studies at the University of South Florida in 2005, I took an English Composition class which required the students to blog once a week about anything they wish. Week after week, I would complain about this assignment because I couldn’t see the value in it. I felt that I was creating useless posts that no one would ever read. And you know what? I was. I had yet to understand the benefits of social media.

 

It was around that same time that I was first introduced to Facebook. Another useless online platform that was created to allow people to post their party pictures and prove their social prowess with a large friend count—or so I thought…

 

The fact is, I fought social media for nearly two years until I was sitting in my Principles of Public Relations class and was let in on a little secret: Public Relations loves social media!

 

The onset of social media meant new and creative avenues for PR practitioners to spread their word, in conjunction with traditional media. Blogs, Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc., have all created endless opportunities for PR people to tap into and target specialized publics. Had I recognized this and accepted it then, I could be a social media expert now!

 

Social Media for PR Students

As a student trying to break into social media, I have learned a few things:

  • Take it slow. I spent nearly a month reading blogs about public relations and social media before I began writing and commenting. The beauty of a blog is to voice your own thoughts and opinions, but be well read and knowledgeable about your topic. Spouting assumptions and fallacies are a fast-lane to losing credibility.
  • Be open-minded. My little anecdote was foreshadowing this tip. Even if the true value isn’t right on the surface, don’t automatically dismiss it. Social media is a relatively new area and is constantly evolving. Grab your metaphorical surfboard and catch the social media wave!
  • Be enthusiastic. If you find something you think is really cool, share it. Link to it on your blog, “tweet” it via Twitter or create a new Facebook group. Your network will appreciate the heads up and will reciprocate.
  • Be respectful, professional and mature. Always act according to these three things. Remember that when you enter the realm of social media, you are creating your own online brand. You want people to recognize your brand for positive things, not negative. *Insert golden rule here.*
  • LEARN. Through my very limited endeavors in social media so far, I have learned more than I could ever be taught in the classroom. You must take the initiative to seek out great information and soak it in. For great insight into social media, visit Lara Kretler’s blog, Chris Brogan’s blog, Strategic Public Relations and Ragan Communications.

As PR students, we need to become more aware of social media and how it applies to our profession. As I stated before, my knowledge is still very limited because I have only tapped the surface. Hopefully social media will become a larger part of the public relations curriculum. The earlier students are exposed to these tools, the more efficient we can become in our online practices.

 

Finally…

When preparing for my final paper for this semester, I realized that a traditional essay would not serve this social media project well. So, I decided that I would turn my paper into a series of blog posts to flow with the setting. So, consider this my “TermBlog.”

Do not let this fool you though. I would love comments and feedback about anything I write. This would not be the appropriate learning environment for me if I wasn’t given feedback about my work.

 

Stay tuned for the next installment about blogging!

Filed under: Social Media, Writing

The Semester is Ending!

For those that didn’t know, I started this blog as a project for my Directed Reading in Public Relations class. Since the beginning of May, I have been reading many blogs written by public relations professionals and students and have thoroughly enjoyed learning from them. It is through your words that I have begun to look at PR through different eyes and have furthered my understanding of this dynamic field.

Instead of writing a final paper for this project, I felt it more fitting to create a mini-series about social media and weave in my own thoughts about what I have learned. For the next week, I will be posting about the different parts of social media I have explored and learned to love throughout this past semester. It would be a very fun end to this semester—not this blog—to foster some discussion on social media, especially since I am finding it to be very addicting.

With that said, be on the look out for my postings and comment if you would like. Lastly, I want to acknowledge those blogs that have been excellent resources throughout this project:

Filed under: Social Media, Writing

Poor PR Writing

My Public Relations Issues professor, Bob Batchelor, recently posted a question on his blog pertaining to the trend of poor writing among public relations practitioners. In his post, he asks: “What do you think we can do to improve PR writing both while students are students and then once they get out into the professional world?”

As a current public relations student, I would have to say the best way to get through to students is to disect their writing and be brutally honest with them. Many students will not respond well to this approach (at least at first), but in time they will begin to notice the improvements in their writing. As much as I hated receiving negative feedback, it was that harsh reality that pushed me to spend more time working on my writing and developing my skills.

That being said, I think students have as much responsibility as the professors do when it comes to improving the students’ writing. Professors can teach them the many techniques and styles of writing, but it is ultimately up to the student to put them to use and perfect them. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.

Those students that truly want to be the best in their field will do everything possible to improve their writing. It’s not fair for professors to take all the blame for poor PR writing.

What do you think?

Filed under: Writing

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