Public Relations For Peaceful People

The wild ramblings of an aspiring betterer of the world

Month: September, 2013

Are You Friends With Your College?

If you’re like me (and about a gazillion other people) you have at least some sort of presence on the internet and social media. Be it a Facebook page, Twitter account, Linkedin profile, or what have you; everyone is online in some shape or form and if you’re not, you’re totally missing out.

I’m preaching to the choir I suppose, seeing as chances are you’re reading this internet blog on a computer screen, but the message is still important. The ability to discover information about things that interest you and to meaningfully connect to what you care about has become so easy. I would venture to make the assertion that it is easier than ever before. Learning is going on at an unprecedented rate and scale and it’s only going to grow from here. there are a lot of smart people doing a lot of smart things online.

Did I mention that like every college student everywhere is on social media? According to Erin Chapman, a news staff writer with Collegiatetimes.com, “Between 85 percent and 99 percent of college students use Facebook.” And that was waaaay back in 2011.

This is why it’s so important for colleges and universities to develop comprehensive social media strategies, and why I chose to develop a Personal Learning Network to teach me how to develop a comprehensive social media strategy for an institution of higher learning, specifically community colleges. This blog will serve both as a justification of why community colleges should be on social media, and also as my initial step towards my PLN goal, a place that myself and others can refer back to as a kind of starting point in the search for insight about the successful social media strategies of colleges and universities.

One of the first things I noticed was this video:

While it offers no solutions, it does provide solid statements that evidence the need for community colleges specifically to be on social media because of the differing composition of students. Many more community college students commute which makes it harder to meaningfully connect to college life. Social media may be able to help with this.

Another place where I discovered some possibly useful information was in USATODAY.com’s college section. While not focusing on community colleges, this site summarizes how some of the most successful colleges across America utilize social media in new and interesting ways and can certainly offer some insight into possible techniques, tips, and strategies that could be implemented in the community college setting.

Lastly, there is this article from USnews.com that says that during a recent survey of over 7000 high school students “68 percent of respondents noted that they used social media to research schools” and that “66 percent of prospective college students said that schools should have a social media presence.”

Honestly I’m surprised it isn’t more, but we all know how apathetic high school kids can be.

While this is by no means anything more than a very basic starting point, hopefully this blog can help people who want to know a bit more about social media for higher education, and why it is important for all colleges to understand the importance of utilizing social media. I know it has piqued my interest.

Hopefully next week I’ll have my copy of “Share This: The Social Media Handbook for PR Professionals”  and I’ll be able to begin referencing it in my blogs as I have been told it is an amazing resource for all things social media and PR. Still, I hope you all enjoy seeing the beginnings of my path on the quest for this knowledge.

Till next time.

I’m About To Instagram All Up In This, Straight Flexin’!

It definitely took me awhile to get interested in Instagram, but lately I’ve been #straightflexin like nobody’s business.

At first I didn’t see the appeal; wasn’t it just kind of a mixture between Facebook’s pictures and Twitter’s hashtag function? I already had a profile on both of these sites. Why would I want to waste more time on the internet on Instagram doing something I already do on Facebook? I post my pictures there for my friends to look at and comment on, so I really didn’t see the point.

It took a bit of prodding but eventually one of my buddies got me to make a profile and do a little, shall we say, flexin’. At first I used it very sporadically, not yet understanding how to utilize the hash tag feature and just taking random photos like this little beauty right here:

Instagram

This was the third photo I posted on Instagram, and it’s still one of my favorites. The picture is of Eastern Michigan University’s Student Center building in Ypsi during the evening and although I don’t have the original anymore, it looked nothing like the vibrant and colorful photograph you see here.

Instagram has all sorts of cool (and very easy to navigate) filters and effects that you can apply to your photos before publishing them. There are an innumerable amount of ways you can alter your photo to get the desired effects and honestly it’s a bit addicting. I could spend the entire blog post explaining the ins and outs of how to use Instagram, but I’d rather just let this guy do it. Work smarter, not harder right?

So the hashtag function is (in my humble opinion) one of the most important components of Instagram, especially when taking a public relations perspective into consideration. When you post your photo you get the option to give it a title/label/comment. It is at this time that the usefulness of the hashtag becomes evident. See, when you put one of these in front of a word on instagram it acts in the same way as it does on twitter, effectively linking you to everything that has the same hashtag.

I didn’t know about this function when I posted the photo that I showed you above, but if I had I would have tagged it with #EasternMichiganUniversity #EMUeagles #Ypsilanti #Ypsi and various other words and topics that I feel relate in some way to my photo, kinda like this.

Instagram 1

As you can see, I have learned a bit more about hashtags since my meager beginnings uploading photos to the internet. I’m no expert though, seeing as I still rely on iPhone screen shots to make copies of my instagram photos.

If any of you know of a better way to save my favorite Instagram pics, please let me know down there in the little ol’ comments.

With the hashtags attached, both my followers as well as anyone who goes on instagram looking for any of those topics will likely see my photo. It is in this way that, when done correctly and creatively, Instagram can be a very effective tool in terms of growing awareness of a brand, networking, and engaging the  public.

Not only are many well recognized organizations utilizing the heck out of the  photo-sharing capabilities the site offers, but with the recent addition of the ability to record, edit, and post video to Instagram some companies are choosing to fully embrace the various functions of the site to help them grow their brands and effectively communicate not just to, but WITH the public in a whole new way.

Did I mention that Instagram is owned by Facebook?

Well it is, and with the kind of money and creative thinking that is present within the Facebook organization, I would look forward to Instagram continuing to grow, evolve, and improve.

Also, If YOU are truly interested in straight flexin’ you can scoop the tee shirt right here. I hope this blog post has been informative, insightful, and super-duper-all-around-awesome.

And a funny video to play us out:

Until next time.

Guess Who Got An Internship?

This guy!

Yep that’s right. I now have a desk, a phone, and a private office with a big window. I’m not getting paid in the monetary sense just yet but I have a feeling that what I’m going to learn about public relations over the next 15 weeks is probably worth more than what they generally pay interns nowadays anyway.

Did I mention that I’m interning with an actual PR firm?

No?

Well I am, Martopia Public Relations Group to be exact. Martopia or MPRG for short.

I was driving home this afternoon after my second full day interning and decided that how this all came about might make a good first PR blog post. So here’s the story of how I got my first internship:

I was bartending recently for Fabulous Food Catering or as we like to call it- Fab, a company I occasionally work for while finishing my degree. I got the job a few years back because my little brother’s then-girlfriend’s aunt owns the company while her brother, who’s also a good buddy of mine is a cook there. Small world right?

Anyway, I was bartending this event a month or so ago because Fab has the WCC in-house catering contract and while pouring drinks was chatting with those in attendance. Occasionally my studies would arise as the topic of conversation and I never hesitate to demonstrate my interest and enthusiasm regarding the PR field when given the opportunity.

One of these conversations, unbeknownst to me at the time was with a woman named Susan Ferraro. Susan just so happens to not only be a Senior Account Executive at Martopia, but “a past president of the Detroit chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA Detroit)” among so much more. You can see her biography here.

Well by the end of the evening I had her business card and she had the promise of a future email from me.

The next day I sent her a friendly email and shortly thereafter we made plans to meet at her office for an informational interview. I did my research and prepared as best I could (Thank you CTAC-357 Interviewing as Communication!) then sent her my résumé and a few writing samples. We met and had a wonderful conversation. She told me about Martopia, gave me all sorts of information about PR, and critiqued my documents. I listened well, spoke confidently, and asked her a bunch of questions I had thought up beforehand.

Not long after the interview I sent a follow-up email to thank her for the opportunity. I received a response from her informing me that they now had an opening for an intern and I was welcome to apply. Needless to say I was totally stoked!

We set up a time for me to come in to be interviewed for the internship. I met with Tausha Moore, Director of Agency Operations for Martopia which was a very pleasant experience, and left feeling positive and anxious about the potential to move forward.

I quickly sent a thank-you email to both Susan and Tausha and was elated when I got the response asking for additional references. I replied with the contact info of three people who know me well both personally and professionally and nervously waited to hear back.

I followed up once more a few days later while on vacation in Arizona and hoped for the best. I flew home from Phoenix on Tuesday, September 3rd, the day before classes start. I got in around midnight and promptly hit the sack.

I woke up the next day to a voicemail from Susan asking that I give her a ring. I called her back and she told me that I got the internship! Needless to say, it was a good day.

I’m two days in and learning by the minute. This semester is going to be tough but I heard somewhere that good things don’t come easy.

Wish me luck.