3 Things I learned from #PRSSANC2017

IMG_4996.JPGEvery year, the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) hosts a national conference for chapters and their members to attend. With locations strategically chosen to draw in attendees with a certain level of attraction, this year was held in Boston, MA. If I were to be honest, Boston, among a few others, was one of the biggest reasons I wanted to go. I would be the first director of ISA to attend, but I would definitely not be the only member of ISA going.

I was joined by four of my peers, who are some of the greatest young women I have ever had the privilege of getting to know. While I learned a lot on this trip – some surprising and some not so surprising – getting to know each of them would quickly become a highlight of the five days I spent gallivanting and conferencing around the east coast.

PRSSANC LogoBut, before I get there, I want to share with you all the three things I learned from my time at PRSSA 2017 National Conference: The Revolution Continues.

  1. Make your first impression count. It does not matter if it is 100 people or one person, your first impression on those individuals counts and you need to make it worth it. As I was prepping with my mentors for a presentation they asked me to participate in, I could feel the nerves setting in. I was agitated, anxious, and I was beginning to get jittery. Whenever I tell people that I am uneasy in front of others they are always taken aback. “But you’re so calm!” is a statement I hear almost EVERY time I reveal that piece of myself to someone else. It’s because first impressions count! No one knows you are anxious or don’t know what you’re doing unless you tell them. As my mentors told me, I am the expert to everyone sitting out in the crowd. They don’t have to know how jittery I am as long as I stand up, deliver my part, and do it with the poise and grace that my educators have instilled within me.

Was I anxious? ABSOLUTELY. But here we are, one week after the presentation, and my mentors are still receiving the positive feedback from how I presented myself. First impressions count, and you only have one shot at making it a good one. 

  1. Small schools can make big impacts. One of the most amazing parts about being at this conference was that I had the marvelous opportunity to be there when Olivet Nazarene University (ONU) got out on the radars of each and every other chapter in attendance. First, this was our first year being recognized as a nationally affiliated chapter, something that I know a lot of people have been working very hard on. To hear this announcement definitely filled my heart with some ONU pride.

But finally being nationally affiliated isn’t the big deal here; the big deal is taking not just an honorable mention but also first place at a nationally judged PRSSA competition for PR. That’s right – we won FIRST PLACE our FIRST YEAR! BOOM!! While I was not on either of the teams who were mentioned, hearing our name called was a moment I won’t soon forget and it taught me a big lesson: Big schools with powerful and strong reputations will always be scary and daunting; but little schools in the middle of cornfields still can make big waves on the biggest of stages. Those teams fought hard and their efforts made me proud. Proud to be a leader, a mentor, a classmate, and a friend.

  1. Be the leader you want others to be. As I mentioned earlier, the real highlight for me on this trip was getting to experience it with four of the greatest women I have ever met. All four of these young professionals serve under me in this agency. One is in her first semester, two are killing it as junior account executives, and the other one is in her first semester as account executive; I couldn’t be more proud of all four of them for the roles that they are in, the work they do, and the professionalism they display every day; I am proud to be their director and they helped me see the exact type of leader I want to be.

I don’t want to be a director who comes in and does her job only to graduate and leave; I want more, SO much more. I want to cultivate and foster skills within each of my staff members so I can know they are getting the exact skills they need to one-day step into the director’s shoes and follow in the footsteps of those who have come before them. I want to know that when I do graduate, I am leaving a legacy of educational development. Getting to know these wonderful ladies was an opportunity to have my eyes opened to the future of this agency and to know that it is a strong and successful future as long as individuals like them have hold of the reins.

Maybe it’s too soon for me to be feeling this way, but as a senior I can’t help but see the days ticking by. Soon enough, May will be here and I will be gone. My hope is that the ones who come after me keep going to events like these and learning what they might not otherwise have learned.

I stepped into that hotel expecting to be taught, and taught I was. Maybe my lessons don’t look the way I expected them to, but hey – I think the best ones usually don’t.

Kate

(AKA Madam Director 😉)

Written By: Kate Cox, Agency Director

 

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The Weight of Words

Following the horrific events that took place in Las Vegas, the headlines of the news caught my attention:


“Vegas attack is the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history”
                               
 – In-Depth

“Police seek clues to Las Vegas mass shooting, bloodiest in modern US history”   
      – CNBC

“The Las Vegas attack is the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history”
               – CNN

Do you notice a theme in the wording of these headlines? The first thing that I observed when seeing these news articles pop up was the amount of “est” adjectives being used to describe the shooting. While I know that these comparisons are typically made to draw in public attention, I found their use in this context incredibly disturbing.

 

Let me preface: I am by no means a psychologist, but I have always been intrigued by criminal psychology. The use of superlative adjectives, such as “worst”, “bloodiest”, and “deadliest” as mentioned in the headlines above perpetuates a hierarchy of crimes, fueling the gears already turning in criminal minds. The usage of these “est” adjectives sets a baseline for others to compete with, which can quickly add up to result in disastrous events.

 

From a public relations perspective, authorities in media must be more careful in word choice when discussing sensitive matters. Reporting and speaking on disasters is necessary to keep the public informed, but can be detrimental to the goal of the communication if it is not worded correctly.

 

Friends in media, there are so many more ways to communicate your message to the masses than to give a “You’re the Best!” ribbon to heinous criminals via headlines, regardless of the caliber of the crime. The statistics and content of the message should give the information necessary to enable readers to decide the scope of the crime for themselves, without a need for a journalist to lay it out for them in a headline.

 

In short, words are power. The recipients of this power will process and utilize it in whatever way they deem necessary. The media cannot let their words encourage those wishing to harm society. Rather than calling to action the competitive nature of criminals, reporters must condemn the act by reporting the facts and focusing on the hope in humanity that come from the event.

 

Remember, I am not a psychologist, nor a journalist. I am merely a PR student that hopes to see positive changes in the world around me, and that starts with knowing the weight of your own words.
Written by Kyla Bledsoe, Account Executive for The Exploration Station… A Children’s Museum
Visit Kyla’s Blog Here: https://pursuitsinpublicrelations.wordpress.com/

280 Characters Changing Twitter?

Twitter 280 CharactersRecently, Twitter announced that it is expanding its 140 character limit to 280 characters. Depending on whom you may ask, some would say that 140 characters is plenty, whereas others would argue that it is by far not enough space to completely finish out their thoughts.

Twitter has done an outstanding job branding itself ever since its launch. Over the years, there has been talk about changing the character limit, but nothing has ever progressed. Recently, Twitter has been testing out the 280 limit on select users to see how it plays out for good or bad.

President Trump has made Twitter one of his favorite platforms to state his personal opinions on. This being said, there has been much controversy for whether or not the character limit expansion would be beneficial. Each point-of-view varies on their feelings towards Trump, but this expansion could cause more “hate tweets” or unnecessary arguments since more content can be shared per tweet. Trump taking full advantage of his Twitter privileges has sparked more interest on Twitter as a whole, however leaving America in distress.

From a PR standpoint, I believe that this 280 character limit expansion is a great investment and improvement. People often struggle with their tweets regarding the content, emojis, hashtags, or pictures. It will provide people with more freedom to say what they need to, but will it be too much?

Some concern is over it Twitter is considering increasing its limit to become more like Facebook with a 63,206 character limit, resulting in Twitter not being unique. Twitter is meant for quick updates or expressed thoughts, but if the character limit continues to expand then what will Twitter become?

When testing this new character limit with several brands this past week, some declined the offer since most fans enjoy the traditional brevity of tweets. Twitter’s PR understands that change is acceptable in moderation and is taking in the consideration of the active users opinions.

This latest advancement will truly show if this is what Twitter needed after all to spark a new engagement level with its users!

Written By: Lindsy Hentschel, Junior Account Executive, The Exploration Station … A Children’s Museum

Visit Lindy’s Blog here: https://lindsyhentschel.wordpress.com/

From Sweats to Skirts: A Tale of Professional Development

blogdiegoIf someone were to ask me what my style was before my second semester of sophomore year of college, I might have tried to claim “athletic chic.” After entering into the world of PR, my eyes were opened not only to what it meant to dress professionally, but what it meant to look presentable on days I felt less than so. Public relations is all about capturing the attention of the public and maintaining their respect, which is much simpler to do when presenting yourself in an eye-pleasing way.
By no means am I identifying myself as a “fashionista” per say; I just now recognize that a clean, put-together look tends to garner more respect and trust than an ill-fitting or thrown together look. Some simple ways I upgraded my wardrobe to accommodate this image shift was by phasing out sweatpants and most t-shirts from my daily wear and increasing the number of dresses and skirts in my closet.

Most people (myself included) do not have a full wardrobe of dressy outfits, nor the budget to spend on a whole new wardrobe. My accumulation of new (and used) clothes took just over a semester of shopping and deal-searching, and is certainly not complete. By rationing out money and scanning sale racks and online deals, you are certainly going to be able to upgrade your closet in a short amount of time.

You may be asking, “Why is image so important?” In the world of public relations, being professionally dressed is an easy way to establish yourself. Having a clean-cut appearance on the outside gives the impression of an ability to maintain order personally too, which is a key aspect of PR. Professional attire is most certainly not required at all times, but is necessary in appropriate situations. When professional attire is not required, wearing clean, appropriate clothing is sufficient to leave a long-lasting impression.
This clothing shift is by no means a call to toss all of your old sweatpants and comfy sweatshirts, it is only a reminder that many people’s first impression of you is largely based on your image. There is nothing wrong with dressing down around friends and family, or on a lazy day at home, but you can never know who you may run into when in the public eye.

I cannot control whether or not I have my life together at times…yet I can control people’s initial perceptions of my life; maybe it’s time for you to trade in your sweats for skirts to leave a lasting first impression.

Written by: Kyla Bledsoe, Account Executive, The Exploration Station…A Children’s Museum

Visit her blog here: https://pursuitsinpublicrelations.wordpress.com/

PR Responding to Natural Disasters

Florida Prepares For Major Hit By Hurricane IrmaIt is no secret that there have been SEVERAL natural disasters this past month. Hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, tornados, etc. With the tragic losses of precious lives, the remaining victims are still pushing through for survival.

As a Public Relations major, I believe that PR professionals should be responding to these natural disasters in a timely fashion as well as helping these targeted communities as best they can. Since PR professionals are passionate for people and breaking news, there are multiple ways to react. Here are five methods for how to properly act on these horrifying events:

1.) Press Release

Getting a press release out as soon as possible is the most beneficial way for people to be in the loop of the natural disaster. For example, Hurricane Irma was a category 5, making history of being the strongest Atlantic hurricane thus far. This being said, Irma was rapidly moving from place to place, destroying everything in its path. If you were not living in Cuba, the Bahamas, Cape Verde, the Southeastern US states, etc, then you were probably not affected by the destruction that took place. Being on the outside looking in kept people on their toes, and they were constantly reaching out to find information regarding the who, what, when, where, why, how questions from the aftermath. The sooner the press release is distributed, the easier it is for people to understand the severity and effects of the storm.

2.) Compassion

Putting the people first is what PR is all about. Being passionate for helping and showing compassion goes a long way. Focusing on the people, destruction, rebuilding, safety, and precautions are a must. If your company sends PR professionals to help restore the affected areas and comfort the victims, then you are making a difference in this world and getting your name out there as well. If more of the population in this world were selfless and compassionate for others, then PR would peak even more. Recruiting volunteers or sending materials will have a positive effect in the long run.

3.) Donations 

Giving a generous donation to the affected areas will truly help and show Christ’s love. Reaching out to churches or local businesses in your community, or starting a trend of sending whatever you can will show how important people are to your PR company. The amount of damage won’t even come close to being restored for a while. However, with enough donations, love, and support, it is quite possible to come close. With big donations, come big thank you’s. This is a great opportunity to get your company’s name out as well as personal branding. If people know that you care, then it will show a huge transformation and outlook on your company as a whole.

4.) Social Media

With the majority of the world being on social media, a great way to keep people updated is through the use of several different platforms. Giving reports, showing pictures, releasing updated information, prayer requests, or featuring quotes from victims, shows how well-educated your company is on major events going on internationally. Using hashtags, locations, tagging people or places, pictures, statuses, tweets, snapchats, etc, gets the word out quickly and updated news for people on the go. Likes and retweets will also spread awareness. Logos are key here.

5.) Be Prepared

Preparation goes a long way. Since there are going to be many more natural disasters in the near future, it is best to prepare for them now. Begin equipping your team for the worst. You never know which areas will be affected, so make sure to have an emergency crisis plan. Also preparing for how the people will react to natural disasters can get your company ready for having new mechanisms for safety, service, or help unlike any other company. Standing out by being bold, being on top of your game, and being understanding will benefit both the company and the people in need. It isn’t always about the branding during the natural disasters. It is about the safety of the people and helping them so they are not as at risk. Evacuations are consistent, but remaining calm and doing everything in your power will show generosity and possible quotes to use later in stories from further witnesses.

Written by: Lindsy Hentschel, Junior Account Executive, Exploration Station… A Children’s Museum

Visit Lindsy’s blog here: https://wordpress.com/post/lindsyhentschel.wordpress.com/1699

 

My “PR Crisis”

During the second semester of my sophomore year of college, I decided that I wanted to explore the major of Public Relations while maintaining my Multimedia Journalism major. In all honesty, I didn’t expect to like it as much as I do. In fact, it was a filler class at first and I just thought people in PR had their lives together.

Shortly after becoming a part of the PR family, I absolutely fell in love. I was becoming fully interested in my classes, trying to engage with all things, reading more blogs and many other social media aspects. But I’m starting to have my own public relations crisis: I can’t stop! I find that within everything I do, I always tend to find the PR in it.

My mom was taking a picture of my brother a couple of days ago. I noticed that one of the buttons on his shirt was missing, his shirt was bulky in some parts, and his belt wasn’t properly centered. I stopped my mom, so that I could help my brother fix himself. He had to look great for his picture, right? They both rolled their eyes, “You are so particular,” said my mom. Me, particular? When did this happen? I stopped to think. Public Relations has changed my life. This isn’t even half of the PR I’ve noticed in me. I see things so differently than I did before, and notice things that some people don’t. I read news differently and listen to company stories differently. Not only this, but I’ve noticed that I have so many thoughts and ideas running through my head almost 24/7–something that I never noticed before about myself.

Public Relations has changed my life. I am a crazy PR person. I’m more structured, but at the same time more all over the place than I was before. It’s not a bad thing at all; I’m just having my own “PR Crisis”.

Written by Goldene Brown, Junior Account Executive

Visit Goldene’s blog here: goldenebrown.wordpress.com

We Spent the Summer Planning an Event We Had No Control Over

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For the past four months, whenever anybody caught a glimpse of the solar system tattoo on my right arm, they would all ask me the same two questions: “So, you like space? Are you excited for the eclipse?”

Well, obviously. YES.

I spent the summer at school. I had three jobs for most of it (for a brief period I had four), and it didn’t feel like summer at all. In addition to working at Menard’s, working as an office administrative assistant for the Chemistry and Geosciences department, and doing planetarium shows on the weekends (and then Bear’s Training Camp for three weeks), I was still maintaining social media for the planetarium. I created and scheduled posts about the history of eclipses, and how ancient civilizations interpreted and understood them. My focus – everybody’s focus – was getting the community ready and excited for the total solar eclipse on August 21.

We changed our public show schedule to try to get more people through our doors. Instead of scheduling shows every two weeks and changing the show every month, we did the same show, about eclipses, every Saturday night. That’s twelve Saturdays, with two shows a night. I saw the same show at least 30 times throughout the summer, once I include private shows requested by various community groups or camps and the extra shows we added to our weekend shows the week before the eclipse.

I can probably quote the entire show word for word. I know I can hum the music, because it still sometimes gets stuck in my head. But it was so worth it.
This is my passion. It still throws people off when I say I’m an English major who loves space and who works in a planetarium, but that’s okay. I began planning for the eclipse last October. I requested off of work and texted my sister telling her to clear her schedule too, because I was going to stay at her house.

Back in March, or maybe April, the planetarium director, Dr. Stephen Case, began organizing an eclipse expedition. He reached out to faculty and administration and reserved a few buses for a group to drive down to a church in Murphysboro, Illinois, on August 21. Murphysboro is just outside of Carbondale, which was the point of longest totality, so we knew it was going to be a popular place to be. Dr. Case had contacted the pastor of that church to reserve the parking lot in August, a year before the eclipse. We’re nerds, what can I say?
Another operator, Emily Rull (who just so happened to be my summer roommate) was just as excited. She spent her summer doing research and observations for her Honors Program research project, but at nights and at our planetarium shows, she and I would talk about how we hoped the weather stayed clear, and that more people needed to come to our shows, and how we sometimes heard people joking about how they didn’t need or want any eclipse viewers and how we wanted to just smack them in the face and EXPLAIN THAT THEY NEEDED THEM AND THEY WERE VERY IMPORTANT.

We never did that. But the three of us (Dr. Case, Emily, and I) did go to the Kankakee Farmers Market twice to hand out eclipse viewers for free. In total, we handed out at least 2,000 viewers. We ran out our first day there, in July, so Dr. Case ordered another thousand for our next visit in August. I wasn’t able to go to our second farmers market visit, but I heard that we ran out in less than two hours. There was reportedly a huge line of people stretched through and around the farmers market of people who were there specifically for our eclipse viewers.

As the eclipse drew nearer and nearer, more and more people kept asking to buy eclipse viewers, and we started to get nervous because our supply was dwindling fast. Some friends at Menard’s approached me to see if I could snag some viewers for them. Many people involved with schools, summer camps, group homes, or churches kept calling trying to order viewers in bulk. In the last three days before the eclipse, I got at least 20 phone calls every day of people asking the same question: “Do you still have eclipse viewers?”

That question grated my nerves more than I ever thought any question could.

The last two weekends of our public shows completely sold out. We aren’t a large planetarium, with only 50 seats, but I have only worked maybe three other shows that have completely filled up. These shows were actually over capacity. Once all of the seats filled up and we still had a line of people stretched halfway around the planetarium, we began letting people stand in the back and sit on the floor. We did what we could to get as many people as prepared as possible.

And it all paid off.

I drove down to the St. Louis area the day before, to stay with my sister. Her house is about an hour and a half from Murphysboro. I met the Olivet group at the church the next morning, and for two hours we just waited. It was hot as Hades down there, but it was a perfect cloudless day. I was restless, and paced the parking lot taking pictures for social media and looking through the telescope to track the moon’s movement and laughing at my sister who was laughing at my restlessness.

We had no control over what the sun and moon were doing in the sky. We couldn’t control the clouds, or the temperature, or the thousands of other people in southern Illinois that day. But when the moon completely covered the sun and it became night at 1:18 in the afternoon and we could see the corona and we could see the stars – I cried. Emily and I laughed and hugged and applauded, along with everyone else watching. Our hard work over the summer paid off, sure. But it was such a blessing to be able to actually witness something like that for the first time.

And in seven years, we’re going to see it again.

Written by: Katy Maurer, Account Executive, The Strickler Planetarium

Visit Katy’s blog here: https://karuma301.wordpress.com/

Ollies Follies Social Media

The second full week of classes has begun, which means that Ollies Follies has come to an end.

For those of you who do not know what Ollies Follies is, it is a competition between classes which includes a variety of fun activities for students to participate in. It kicks off with a block party, then there are athletic games, wacky games, and the week ends with the variety show. Each grade gets t-shirts and participates in these events; this year the overall winners were the seniors.

befunky-collageGreen: Freshman, Yellow: Sophomores, Blue: Juniors, Pink: Seniors

Social media is a big component of public relations and Olivet is great at keeping theirs updated.

ASC (Associated Student Council) does a great job promoting every upcoming event. Before school starts, every student receives an email that includes a calendar which has all the activities for the upcoming semester, including when the Ollies Follies activities begin and the time and location for every event.

There is always something on either Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat about all of the upcoming events. They even post while the event is happening. If people were unable to make it to the variety show this past Sunday, there was a live stream! I think this is a great idea because it gets more people watching it

Since being at Olivet, I’ve noticed how great they are at promoting and getting the word out there of the upcoming events. Students are constantly receiving emails about them, and even during chapel while people are walking in there are slides on the big screen showing the events coming up within the next few weeks.

Promoting and reaching out to your intended audience is so important! You want to get people to show up to the events so you need to keep talking about it or people might lose interest in them. Post about the events wherever you can think of and whenever you can.

Social media is always a great place to talk about things that are coming up because everyone is on it. Put up flyers about the events, send out emails, and do whatever you can to get the word out if you want people to gain interest and show up!

Written by Rebecca Plomero, Junior Account Executive

Visit Rebecca’s blog here: https://rebeccaplomero.wordpress.com/

ISA Leadership Visit Manteno Elementary

Two Olivet Nazarene University students and one faculty member were invited to Laura Lubben’s fourth-grade class at Manteno Elementary School on Tuesday, September 12.

 

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Lubben invited her student’s parents to visit the classroom for thirty minutes to describe how they use math in their careers. Kerns responded as a parent of one of Lubben’s fourth-graders.

Liz Kerns, Assistant Professor of Communication, said, “Sharing how I use math in my role as a college professor can be explained in one easy word: grading. I asked Ms. Lubben if I could share with the class how public relations and strategic communication professionals use math in their careers and have a few student leaders join me to share how they have used math in PR campaigns they have run in class.”

Two students joined Kerns at Manteno Elementary School. Kate Cox is a senior Public Relations and Strategic Communication major and Agency Director of Inspired Strategies Agency, Olivet’s student-run, strategic communication agency. Jessie Kilbride is a junior Public Relations and Strategic Communication major, Junior Account Executive for Inspired Strategies Agency, and Club President of Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) Olivet Chapter.

“Today, we were lucky to have Mrs. Kerns and two college students from Olivet, come in and speak to my class in regard to public relations and how they use math and numbers in their field,” Lubben said. “They each explained what public relations entails and brainstormed with one of their client projects on budgets and statics. The students were able to work together,  thinking about how they would use numbers to create a public relations campaign.”

During an exercise to demonstrate PR, the fourth-grade class collectively came up for ways to increase awareness and attendance of Manteno families to The Exploration Station… A Children’s Museum in Bourbonnais, Ill. After thinking about traditional advertising methods such as billboard, newspaper ad, or television commercial, Kerns asked the young students if they could name one local business they remember seeing publish an ad.

“The students struggled to identify local companies using traditional promotional methods,” Kerns said. “Once we identified the target audience as families in Manteno, I asked them where they go during the evening or weekends with their families. We were able to identify local sporting leagues, the library, Dairy Queen, and one student’s grandma’s house as common locations on the weekends. The students began brainstorming immediately how they could creatively promote the museum at these venues.”

The admissions office generously provided an Olivet pen for each of the fourth-grade students. Lubben stated, “The first thing a student said was, ‘Look the pen is a little billboard’.”

Kerns said, “We might have a surge of spectacular Manteno graduates join our Tiger family in the Fall 2026! I look forward to having any of them in class after I watched their arms go up with excitement in order to share their ideas.”

What I Learned on the First Week of My Public Relations Internship

I just finished the first week of my public relations internship with the Museum of Science and Industry. Let me just say, it was nothing like I expected it to be. I went in thinking that I would only be watching and taking notes.

To my surprise, I was given a hands-on assignment on the first day. By the second day, I was running errands with people from WCIU-TV. Upon the end of the week, I had already been to a few meetings and worked on my first “media alert.”

I’ve learned so much in just the four days that I’ve worked. Although I’m already comfortable with communicating, I had to adjust to meeting the people my department as well as other departments. I have been learning more about my colleagues and getting more of an understanding of their roles/titles.

I suppose one of the biggest things I’ve learned after this week is that public relations is unexpected. There’s never just one thing you have to focus on, there’s always more. No single day is similar to the other. This is primarily why I think I enjoyed my first week so much. Each day, there was a different task. Not only this, but I was actually “doing.”

I have already made so many mistakes and my colleagues have helped and corrected me. I sent a draft of a media alert and when I received it back, there were red marks all over it. This was very intimidating but it’s what I needed in order to do a better job. My colleagues made me feel comfortable and went over my mistakes with me. What I’m trying to say is, I realized that it’s okay to make mistakes and by doing so, it will only benefit you.

I’m so excited for the rest of my journey as a public relations intern and towards the end of my internship I will reflect on everything I’ve learned. I’m prepared to make many more mistakes but I am also prepared for my success!

Goldene Brown

Read the original post here!