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A Stellar Week

This semester I had an awesome opportunity to support my client. I drove four hours south to St. Louis through pouring rain. I was with my friend Emily, who works at the planetarium with me. Along the way, between Beatle’s songs and my very limited selection of Broadway tunes (basically just Hamilton), we were coming up with a list of topics for our panel discussion the next morning.

We were on our way to a planetarium conference, and we were so excited (if that’s not the nerdiest thing you’ve ever heard, then I don’t know what is).

The 2017 Pleiades National Planetarium Conference is the first national conference in about 30 years. Last year, the conference we went to was only regional, and we were blown away. We couldn’t wait to see what a national conference would bring to the table.

The first morning, we were a part of the first workshop. Titled “Challenges and Opportunities for College and University Planetariums,” our own director was supposed to be a panelist (he was the one who came up with the idea). But, ironically, due to scheduling conflicts, Dr. Case couldn’t even attend the conference. There’s just one example of a challenge for a university planetarium when the director is also a professor.

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Emily and I were on the panel in his stead, and it worked out perfectly. We were the only students on the panel (let alone some of the only students at the entire conference), so we were able to speak directly to how Strickler Planetarium can work with other departments, and opportunities for students. I offered some insight to our PR program and my role as account executive, ergo, social media manager, and the various events we have been able to do by working with this new team. The moderator came up to us right after the panel and gushed about how great it was to have student perspectives on the panel. And, throughout the conference, various people would stop us in the hall and say that we did a great job on the panel, or we would be casually chatting with someone and they would suddenly say, “Oh! You were on the panel Wednesday morning!” I felt like a celebrity.

The second day, Emily gave a ten-minute paper talk about her summer research project. As her summer roommate, I had witnessed some of this research firsthand, and I was so proud of her for presenting at a national conference (I had intended on submitting a presentation about the PR stuff I did last semester and over the summer, but, alas, I missed the submission deadline. Classic Katy). Emily’s project was designing and 3D printing a filar micrometer, which is a device used with telescopes to measure the orbits of double stars. Basically, it’s a tool that measures very small (from our perspectives) distances for objects that are very, very far away. And this girl figured out how to make one on her own. Her presentation went off without a hitch (even though she had to practice it in front of me multiple times before she was anywhere satisfied with it), and many people in the crowd were interested in her design and I was so freaking happy for her.

Now that we got the business out of the way, let’s move on to the fun stuff.

Planetarium conferences are great places to be. I’m obviously biased. I love being around a ton of like-minded people who are open-minded to new ideas and new technologies and who get excited over everything from laser lights to what the night sky will look like in 18 months to one science center who created a whole science day based around Harry Potter.

I also walked into the largest planetarium I have ever seen, with the best Zeiss LED projector that projected the best starfield my own two eyes have ever seen. Between the sponsor demos and various paper talks, I feel bad for Dr. Case for coming back with so many ideas of what to buy to improve our planetarium and all the different events we should do. But hey, he let us run free at a national conference, so he should have seen this coming.

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Emily and I were able to connect with a Strickler alum, Buddy Stark, who hosted the Great Lakes Planetarium Association (GLPA) conference and whose house we gratefully stayed at last year. We recognized a few more planetarians, which just proves that we’re making tangible connections with people we could very feasibly be working with in a few years’ time. We sat in at the state and regional meetings and were able to vote for some of the elections and by-law changes. I learned more about how GLPA works, and am considering joining (or trying to join) either the publications team or technology team.

But my favorite part? I met the event coordinator of the entire conference. And THAT is probably the nerdiest thing I’ve ever said (also, that I’m a PR nerd). We swapped business cards, and we tried for three days to come up with a good time for us to meet, but (understandably) Darla was extremely busy. We promised to one day have a conference call, because I think part of her was just as excited to have someone express an interest in event planning.

I sat in at two paper talks that talked about event planning, mostly for the eclipse. One presentation was basically event planning and PR 101, and I spent the whole ten minutes giggling because this is my life. My career dream is to work for a planetarium or science center as an event planner. I’d honestly be happy starting off as just an operator or whatever, but I have resigned myself to always having more ideas of community outreach and events for the planetarium than the planetarium can handle.

Written By: Katy Maurer, Account Executive

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#METOO

Picture3.pngSexual assault has always been a problem, but, until recently, it has been a lot easier to sweep under the rug. This is an unpleasant subject that causes discomfort in many circles, but people are finally speaking out.

Many big name actresses have recently come forward with their stories on sexual harassment from film producer Harvey Weinstein. He had made advances that were kept quiet until now, but he has finally been exposed.

Picture2.pngWith these accusations coming to light, actress Alyssa Milano encouraged women to bravely share their sexual assault stories. Since then social media has exploded with women sharing their own personal sexual assault stories, tagging them with #metoo.

Picture1These two small words are making such an impact, people are finally talking about an issue that has been portrayed as taboo. Women all over the world have responded to this movement. Even female senators have begun speaking out about their own sexual assault experiences.

This campaign is giving women freedom from these weights that they have been carrying around with them, some for years. The question that needs to be asked is, will this movement make a change?

If you think about it, how does any change begin but through recognition of the problem? The language and the approach we use to promote awareness is highly important when addressing serious issues. If people can finally see what is going on in the world around them maybe they will make the time to stick up for those who need it.

This campaign has made progress by raising awareness for a real problem in society. It has made an effort to focus more on the victims and their struggles rather than the offenders who try to bounce the blame off of themselves.

Rape culture is prevalent in our society, sometimes just with words. People should be able to feel safe doing everyday things like walking down the street, or going to work. Hopefully, the #metoo campaign can finally make enough people realize that something needs to change.

Written By: Hannah Young, Junior Account Executive

Is Public relations really that important in today’s generation?

JP.pngBefore coming to Olivet Nazarene University, I felt like I already had my career choice planned out for myself, or at least the outline. I grew up in a Christian family and had the privilege of being a pastor’s son. My family is from Haiti, which means they learned English as a second language, which also means they will always have a Haitian accent. Communications were always involved in my life growing up. I found myself loving it more each time when trying to translate to people what my parents say because of their heavy accent. I knew growing up I wanted to be involved with communications in my career choice, but I just didn’t know what exactly to do with it. But then after having a college visit and meet Professor Elizabeth Kerns, I truly believe my mind was set on which field of communications I wanted to continue my studies in.
After taking a year of Public relations classes, Professor Kerns always stated that “Public relations is a way to present the company’s or organization public image around the world.” According to Public Relations News, “Public relations is the management function which evaluates public attitudes, identifies the policies and procedures of an individual or an organization with the public interest, and plans and executes a program of action to earn public understanding and acceptance.”  As of right now, I’m currently enrolled in three Public Relations courses and even though I’m still confused on some things, I’m taking every day as a process.

There are a few things I’ve picked up with continuing my studies with Public Relations. The first thing I’ve picked us is you need to be ready for development of business contacts by means of individual systems, administration, or participation and supporting on occasions. Basically, you should be ready to sponsor and speak at an event with a Public Relations attitude and be ready to represent the company’s image. The second thing is composing and blogging for the web. A good writer will always write a weekly or daily blog to improve his or her writing skills and keeps their followers updated.  Thirdly, be ready for emergency advertising procedures. As a writer or spokesperson, you should be able to react throughout any situation and be able to keep the critics from ruining your image. Finally, be ready for web-based social networking advancements and reactions to negative conclusions on the web. Professor Kerns gave me an example of a news reporter at a news press conference and the media asking negative questions to get negative and biased answers.
I couldn’t express how much learning about Public Relations has changed my outlook in life in a positive way. The more I watch the sports, the news or just a TV show, I see Public Relations being used in everything. The one thing that has amazed me the most is how similar but slightly different public relations is to advertising. The primary objective is to get the word out about you, your organization, your items, and administrations to the individuals who could possibly purchase from you. Advertising is only one player in showcasing, whereas promoting is comprised of numerous things. The uplifting news about PR is the cost and the adequacy when it’s before your objective market. Public relations is always used every day in real life situations. If we thought press conferences and the news were up to date with every day, I truly believe social media public relations is on the rise.

Written By: Jonathan Pierre, Junior Account Executive 

Lessons in Time-Management

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Today, I came across a list of the “15 most caffeinated professions.” Public relations professionals are #2 on the list, right behind lab technicians – PR professionals are even above nurses and professors! This made me laugh a bit, one of those nervous, “oh no, what am I getting myself into” laughs. As a PR student, not even a professional, I feel like I’ve consumed enough coffee to last me a lifetime – at least enough coffee to make my doctor shake his head.
I was warned that junior year would be the hardest year yet, and with upper-division classes, being on the PRSSA board, ISA, and Bateman… they weren’t kidding! Even though there are some late nights, and lots of coffee, everything gets done – even when I’m complaining to my friends that there’s “no possible way I’ll be able to get everything done.”
Although I’m only about 2 months into my junior year, I’ve learned a lot of hard lessons in time-management. So, in this blog post, I’m going to share two lessons I’ve learned that have led me to scratch more off my to-do list.

  1. It’s OK to say no

FOMO: The Fear of Missing Out. FOMO is all too real. The past two years, the thought of missing out on a Taco Bell run or a day-trip to Chicago seemed worse than failing an exam. “What if they post an Instagram picture, and I won’t be in it?” and “I can’t bear to watch their fun, exciting snapchat stories from my desk” were thoughts floating through my head as I debated going out or doing homework.
I soon began to realize that the stress that was caused by not getting homework done outweighed the stress of not being in an Instagram picture. The elation that came from crossing another assignment off in my agenda greatly outweighed being included in a Snapchat.
I learned that my friends will still be there even if I don’t go out for pizza with them this one time, but my 12 a.m. deadline won’t be so forgiving.
It’s OK to say no!

  1. Utilize small blocks of time throughout the day

My main times of productivity, at least when it came to homework, would always be between the hours of 7 p.m. to 12 a.m. Although this is still a great time for me to get things done, I began to feel swamped and tired from saving everything till late at night. I then took a hard look at my schedule and realized there were times during the day, albeit small blocks of time, that I could get things done.
Normally, if I have an hour in between two of my classes, I’ll get coffee and open my laptop like I’m going to start something, but I’ll actually end up just talking with friends – soon, the hour is up. Although this hour to just relax is super necessary sometimes, it’s also a great hour to utilize if I’m feeling a little more overwhelmed that week.  If I go to the library, put in my headphones, and work for a solid hour, I can knock out about two assignments – and it’s only noon! Now, I don’t have to feel too guilty if I say yes to going out later that day.

Written By: Emma Vandermark, Associate Account Executive

What Boston Taught Me About Fake News

This semester I had the opportunity to have an amazing experience in Boston, Massachusetts. There was a variety of speakers coming from all over the country, in order to influence, encourage, and teach a group of future professionals in their industry. We had the option for most times to choose which session sounded most applicable and beneficial to our individual public relations journey.

One of the sessions I enjoyed most was titled Navigating Fake News, and it was a panel of five public relations and journalism professionals who all had a different background to assist the conversation.
John K. Carrol, one of the professionals on the panel, begun the session by stating,

“There are two types of fake news: Stories that are fabricated to make money for a specific organization or product, and stories fabricated to advance and promote a specific political agenda.”

Not many millennials may realize this, but fake news is not new, no matter how the media ecosystem has changed in the past years. A recent survey, referenced in the session at the PRSSA (Public Relations Student Society of America) National Conference, states that only 28% of the American public believe what is on the news media.

Fake news is based off of the idea of cause-related marketing. What that essentially means is that your audience is more inclined to agree with you if you are a republican or democrat, depending on their political party affiliation.

In order to effectively navigate fake news, it is important to be aware of the news silos that are present within the news media, online and elsewhere. In order to get out of this idea of a news silo, you need to create a credibility filter and understand the idea that “the internet gives you back what you’ve already told it… you essentially go to the internet to find yourself”. This idea circles back to the idea of knowing more than one media outlet. If the news is consistent with many credible resources, then you can most likely be certain it is not fake news.

There is not much we can do to stop fake news from being produced, but we can help to educate those who help spread the fake news. If we can recognize a story that is not credible, call it out and don’t share that story!

Written By: Margaret Sutton, Junior Account Executive

Four Tips For Creating The Best Social Media For Your Brand

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  1. What is the goal?

What are you trying to achieve from your social media accounts? Before you start, that goal needs to be determined. If you are trying to sell a specific product, then you need to create content supporting that product to inform customers why this product is best for them and why they need to purchase it. If you are trying to get your brand name out there you need post content that goes along with the essence of your brand. For example, if your brand has strong Christian values post bible verses, post encouraging thoughts or any content that lets your audience know what is important to your brand.

  1. Who is my audience?

One very important aspect of social media is knowing your audience. If you do not know your audience, you will not know what type of information will appeal to them. If your audience is middle aged men, then Twitter and Instagram may not be the ideal platforms to use, but Google+ and Facebook may be better. As for information, colorful infographics will not be the best way to communicate with this audience either. Not looking into your audience’s interests will cause you to fail on social media.

 

  1. What type of content should be posted?

This depends on both your goal of the platform and your audience. You want to post content that will help you achieve your goal and also something your audience will be interested in. Look into what the platform(s) you are using are mostly used for and see what companies like yours are doing on social media. When looking at your competitors, determine what they are doing right and wrong, and be sure to identify if their audience is the same as yours before trying something you saw that had a good reaction.

  1. How do can I tell what is working?

Facebook is a great platform to look at analytics. You can see how many people have seen your post and the demographics behind those people; hopefully the majority is within your target audience. The real determination to tell if your content is working well is not the amount of followers you have but the amount of interaction you have on your page. You can have 100,000 followers but if no one is paying attention to your content or taking the time to comment, like or share what is the point? If your page is creating a lot of likes and positive interactions then you are doing it right, try something different to determine what is not working for your brand.

Written By: Nicole Pilbeam, Account Executive

Celebrating Differences In PR

As a public relations student I have often found it to be extremely difficult to stay focused on one thing because there are a million different directions that you can run.

While I am doing many things, I am also often the type of person that sometimes falls into the mindset that there is only one way to do something. I generally believe that my way is the right way. Through collaborating with others I have seen that this is not the case at all.

There are many different clients in our agency and with each client there is an account executive. While we all technically hold the same position, we are all doing vastly different things from one another. We each come at problems and run our teams in different ways. At first I felt inferior to other leaders and threatened that they would do a better job than me. While it is sometimes healthy in small doses to benchmark yourself and compare to where others are it, it is not everything.

I have been learning that each situation is unique and calls for a unique way to handle it. I see things differently from how another person would. Each client is different so there has to be many personalities to fit their needs. Then after you find the right fit, the beauty of having differences from others is that at weekly meetings if you are struggling, someone else can share their ideas and help you get unstuck. It’s a balancing act. We must all be different and think differently in order to help one another succeed.

This blog may not teach you an important PR skill by the books, but I sincerely hope that it helps someone to feel comfortable with leading something for themselves.

Let us celebrate our differences and learn from one another.

Written By: Helen Berdebes, Account Executive

 

Dress for Success: 4 Business Clothing Essentials for Women

When I came to college, I never imagined that I would be dressing in business professional clothing nearly every day of the week. Between my job working in an office and being a part of Inspired Strategies Agency, I went from wearing jeans to wearing dress pants in a matter of just a few weeks. It took me a few weeks to figure out exactly what sort of clothing I should wear, but here’s a list of go-to pieces that you can’t go wrong with when you’re required to dress in business professional clothing.

  1. Black Dress Pants

Maceys.pngMacy’s                  Leivis Levi’s

The first clothing item I purchased when I had to start dressing up was a pair of black dress pants. There are so many styles of dress pants that it’s easy to find a style you feel comfortable and confident in. Black is a color that will go with any other color. You can dress it up and go all out, or if you’re having a more laid-back day at the office you can dress it down.

 

 

  1. Black Blazer

OldNavyOld Navy           MaricesMaurice’s

A simple black blazer can dress an outfit up so much. I would suggest going for one that is flexible and allows you to move around without restriction.

  1. Black Pumps (or Flats)

MaceyshoeMacy’s      DSWDSW

Depending on how professional your work environment is, owning a pair of black pumps is essential. Not only do these dress up your outfit, but they just make you look sharp. If you know you’re going to have a day with lots of errands to run, it’s good to have a comfortable pair of black flats to run these errands in. They’re still dressy, but allow you to get places much quicker and without blisters on your feet.

 

 

  1. A Colorful Top for a Pop of Color

JCPJCPenney       TBDDressTBDress

If you’re wearing black dress pants, a black blazer, and black shoes, you need to have a pop of color in your outfit! Whether it’s bright pink, powerful red, baby blue, or just a simple white top, wear the color you love most! No matter the color you choose, it will brighten and soften your outfit. You can choose to wear a nice, colorful tank top under your blazer or you can wear a blouse that can be worn with and without your blazer.

Written By: Haley Foster, Junior Account Executive

PR From Home

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Since I graduate in less than two years, the “what am I gonna do with my life?” panic has begun. What field of PR am I going to go into? Corporate? Agency? Or Non-profit? When I envision myself 5 years from now, I see myself walking into my office with Starbucks in hand and a cute Target blazer. According to the PRWeek article “Do PR agencies really need an office? Virtual working takes off in comms,” I, and many other soon-to-be-graduating PR pros, could be working in pajamas in 5 years.

More and more PR agencies are starting to convert to virtual work spaces. When I think of a job that’s completely online, I think of a better work-life balance. As PR pros, we are always on the clock, so it can be hard to find a nice work-life balance. With a virtual work space, there is more flexibility to raise a family or pursue other passions as well. With this flexibility comes more work satisfaction, I think.

Some of the benefits agencies have seen from becoming virtual are the ability to offer lower prices to clients, a more responsive team, and better employee retention because of more flexible and unrestrictive work policies. With benefits also come some downfalls, such as the ability to train new staff or the feeling of isolation.

As a PR student, it’s interesting to read about where the world of PR is headed. Now, everything is online, and bricks and mortar offices aren’t really necessary to perform a job well anymore.

Pat Pearson, an MD at Firstlight agency, said “Technology makes virtual working easier – but PR is still very much a people business where people get together to create programmes and work creatively.”

Even if our job becomes strictly online, PR is still a people-oriented career that requires collaboration.

Written By: Emma Vandermark, Associate Account Executive

Find Your Niché

This Semester at Olivet Nazarene University, we had great guest speakers come into Chapel and speak to the student body. One of my favorites was a couple named Kristin and Danny.

According to Kristinanddanny.com, “Kristin and Danny Adams are entertainers, content creators, public speakers and viral sensations who, according to Indianapolis Monthly Magazine, are “taking your co-worker’s YouTube break by storm.” Passionate about God and family, K & D post new videos every Friday that are fun and entertaining for people of all ages.  They launched their social channels in June of 2015, and already their #LaughterIsTheBestMedicine online community has grown to over 900,000 people”.

After they spoke in chapel, they came to two of my communications classes to talk about their rise to “fame” and how they handle communications and how they found their audience.

Their story was truly inspiring and it showed a lot about what amazing things God can do in your life. While listening to them, I was thinking about the best way for me to find my audience, and influence them. I have been trying to brand my social media and make my name known in the online community, but I had been struggling. The biggest thing I remember them saying is that you need to focus on WHAT you’re bringing to the metaphorical table that isn’t already out there. What makes you different from the millions of other people you see on Instagram. This comes back to the idea of branding yourself and your “product”.

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Business 2 Community: “Find Your Brand Voice on Social Media”

So if you’re trying to introduce a product or idea to the world online or in person, it is crucial to be aware of what type of brand you’re putting off, and what audience you are attempting to grab.

Written By: Margaret Sutton, Junior Account Executive