My Blogress: One small step for the public relations world, one Giant leap for Emily McCoy

•December 9, 2009 • 2 Comments

As a final conclusion to the assignment aspect of this blog, I’d like to take the time to reflect over my blogress during this past semester. Regardless of when these posts were posted, I constantly found myself thinking “OH, i need to write that down, that would make a great blog post.” And now, I’d like to part from this blog (only temporarily, until the end of finals at least, I certainly plan to return) with a few thoughts on how my blogress (blog progress, if I forget to mention that before) has made me grow as a public relations professional.

My New Love Affair

-First of all, if the only purpose of writing a blog was to practice writing, then I would call it well worth it. Just learning how to formulate my own opinions in something simple enough to understand, yet witty enough to want to keep reading, yet intelligent enough sounding so that people may actually consider my opinions was a difficult enough task, and I can only imagine that writing in the real public relations world would prove to be as tricky.

-Secondly, starting a blog with a specific topic in mind (public relations, duh) is a great way to become even more of an expert on the topic. Sure, I’ve taken the classes, written the paper about the industry, even gone on a few interviews to prepare for a real life in the PR world, but I don’t think I’ve ever put as much outside research into the industry as I have this semester, and for that, I am thankful. The term “research” has such a horrible sound to it, I just imagine myself swamped in a storm of books and articles, but research doesn’t have to be so scary; in fact, research can be fun.

-Thirdly, blogging is a great way to network with other people in the industry. Even networking with my felllow peers through commenting and posting on each others’ blogs has proven helpful. I have learned a lot about my peers, and I consider being able to learn about people a talent, a talent very useful for the public relations industry. Networking with real professionals can be a scary thing, but if you can take a little time to get to know them, the better your chances are for being able to really hit a note with them, and benefit each other.

-Finally, this blog has helped to encourage me to embrace social media, as I have mentioned in oh, just about every single blog I have written. Even just practicing how to imbed links, pictures, video clips, and articles is important if I ever want to make it in the PR world.

On that note, it’s been real world! Fear not, I’ll soon return! I’m hoping to continue my blog next semester and gear it specifically towards my internship. Until then, if anyone is reading this, I hope you’ve enjoyed my thoughts about the industry, I hope to see you there some day soon!

Top Skills for a Public Relations Professional

•December 9, 2009 • 1 Comment

As I’ve mentioned before, it’s pretty safe to say that as of the past couple months, and for the next six months to come, I have been and will remain in a constant state of semi-panic about entering the real world of public relations. Will I ever get a job? Will it be something I actually enjoy? Will I be behind in the social media aspects of the public relations industry? After talking myself down from the ledge (metaphorically speaking, come on people) on more than one occassion, I have realized that I just need to start (it’s never too late to start, right?) honing my skills I’ve already acquired, and also working on new skills. I came across this article from Dave Fleet‘s webpage about 14 skills and attributes desired for new public relations professionals.

Of course, there were the typical skills that I have learned about since Communications 101 like writing skills, communication skills, attention to detail, and a good work ethic (all of these taken verbatim from his post of course), but there is also a semi-surprising (maybe not surprising to social media experts like our generation, but perhaps to an older generation of public relations professionals) list of other skills and attributes that are extremely desirable:
– Blogging
– Microblogging
– Social Networking tools
– SEO
– Coding
– Blogger Relations
– Social Media Ethics

Interesting how three out of these seven skills involved some kind of blogging, eh? How can it be that a simple knowledge of how to blog, and how to blog successfully by reaching an audience, is such a desirable trait in public relations professionals these days? This is simply the direction public relations has taken. I can’t stress it enough that although I may not always be quite on board, social media is the new word of mouth, even though word of mouth is still considered to be the most effective form of communication. I now say this to all of you (but mostly to myself): Embrace the future. Take advantage of social media and force yourself to become an avid part of it. Because if you don’t? Well, you’re pretty much screwed.

Twitter: The new “Word of Mouth” Communication?

•December 9, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Ok, now before you assume that I am just going to slam Twitter and other social media some more, here me out. I promise I am not QUITE as old-fashioned as I sound. The point of me writing this post is to ask the questions of whether or not Twitter could be considered the new form of word of mouth communication, and if so, how it came to be this way? Specifically, I am extremely interested in how the public relations and restaurant industry come together and work together, and how word of mouth public relations (or possible Twitter for that matter) help the industry out.

I found the following YouTube video about a specific restaurant opening in Charleston, South Carolina, and thought it was interesting what the chef/owner had to say:

The one part I found the most important was the part where he said something along the lines of “if the public relations team promises a grand restaurant, and then customers come and don’t find that, the public relations team looks bad.” This is so true; so often, I find it easiest to just jump to the highest compliment of something, or just overstate how amazing a product or service is when I’m trying to promote it. But as public relations professionals, we have to remember that while yes, we are salespeople in a sense, we also have to be honest, and not overpromise.

I know I mentioned Twitter, and this is how I am tying it back in: my question is, could the use of Twitter by restaurants help their word of mouth public relations, beyond actual word of mouth communication? I work at Rosebud on Rush, an Italian restaurant in downtown Chicago, and from my experience, I can say that above all else, the restaurant relies and thrives on word of mouth communication. My guess is that 8 or 9 out of 10 customers that I speak with who are new to the restaurant heard about it from another friend. Since Roesbud doesn’t currently utilize Twitter… should it? Would Twitter help, or does Twitter simply not reach our target audience?

Social Media: Here to stay, or fading away?

•December 9, 2009 • Leave a Comment

After watching this video, I couldn’t help but feel a bit helpless in my selfish wish that social media calms down a little bit in the coming of the new year. It’s not that I’m not a social media user, because I certainly will be the first to admit that my Facebook page is probably checked upwards of ten times a day. BUT, I can with some confidence say that I am not a social media abuser. Even forcing myself to write this blog was a bit of a mental struggle (although now, I have to admit that I am enjoying it quite a bit). I guess my main concern when it comes to social media is that it is rapidly replacing ALL forms of face-to-face interaction, and I am a huge fan of the face-to-face action.

In the public relations world, face-to-face communication obviously happens. However, I dare say that it is no longer the number one form of communication. Conference calls, virtual meetings, emails, etc are more frequent than any of us seem to realize, and actual person to person interaction is not nearly as prevalent, or even needed anymore. In my own limited public relations experience working with the nonprofit organization Canine Motivated Therapies, I have witnessed this lack of need for face-to-face communication.

Throughout the entire semester, my team communicated with the director of CMT through email and phone calls only, never actually meeting with her face to face until the day before our presentation in class. Ha! Can you believe it? And the day I met her, I felt like I already knew her so well, I felt almost awkward when speaking to her about how much I already knew about her. While I will admit that speaking with her so much previously before meeting her made it a little more comfortable, I think that is a bad thing. Public relations professionals, above all other people should have completely unshaken personal skills. At this rate, I fear that actual personal skills will be obsolete in the next few years. So I ask of you all… stray from the social media! Go hang out with real live walking talking people! It’s for the benefit of your own health, I swear!

Techno-what-i?

•December 9, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Technorati. It’s a website that I never thought I’d use, and that I now find myself using almost every day. With my recent blogress (blog progress), I have become a little more aware of the whole blogger world that exists out there, and have more importantly come to find that a lot of important information and research lies in the blogosphere. I never thought that I would actually become an avid blogger, and now that I am, I am happy to know how to use Technorati.

David Sifry, Founder of Technorati

Technorati.com is a search engine for blogs founded by David Sifry. You can type in a word or phrase and then the search engine will return a search through millions of blogs to find what you were looking for. In the world of public relations where blogging and micro-blogging have become such an integral part of the industry, technorati is an excellent resource. On the note of blogging in general for the public relations industry, I am just starting to realize what an excellent source of networking the blogging world can be.

Just in my own preliminary public relations specified blog search, I have come across lots of professionals and students alike who I would love to get in contact with. I also think that organizations should learn to take advantage of technorati by using the correct keywords to gain attention to their blog. Through my work with a nonprofit organization recently, that was one of the problems we came across with in creating our blog: how do we make sure people know that our blog exists? Just through my own blogress, I have really started to learn how all these different media techniques can come together to create a seriously kickass public relations plan.

Tiger’s Tale

•December 9, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I know, I know, this is probably the zillionth post about Tiger you have all seen in the past week. But I don’t care, and on that note, I’ve decided to take a different approach to judging this poor, rich, lost soul. I’m going to defend him and be the first to take his side…

….

I am of COURSE just kidding. Sadly for Tiger, and sadly for my own creativity’s sake, I can find almost no redeeming characteristics in Tiger anymore. I can’t help but recall a very similar scandal back in the beginning of the year with Michael Phelps getting caught smoking weed. I remember watching every single possible update on whether or not he’d talk openly about his mistake, and now I only hope that Tiger will do the same, and hopefully be able to move on with his career. Here is a video I found of Phelps openly discussing his mistake and how he plans on handling it in the future.

I know that Tiger Woods has already issued a statement apologizing for his past transgressions against his family… but what’s with the hold up? Why did he release the statement so long after the incident? Is he going to lose his endorsements? More importantly, will he loose his overall reputation as THE golden boy of athletics? What does it take for a celebrity to bounce back after a scandal such as this, and how can a creative (not to mention extremely well paid) public relations team help to redeem their client’s reputation?

I think the most important thing here is for Tiger to take full and complete responsibility for everything he has done. Now with new reports circulating about the loads of different women he has reportedly been with, and how Tiger might possibly be a “sex maniac”, it is really time for him to come clean, and then hope that American can learn to forgive and forget. As far as his Swedish supermodel wife, well… Tiger should consider himself lucky if she ever decides to forgive and forget.

Nonprofit PR = Zero Budget

•December 9, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I am currently enrolled, and just finishing up, my Public Service Communications class here at Loyola. The class focuses on choosing a nonprofit organization to work with the entire semeter, and help them to create a new or updated PR plan. My team and I chose to work with Canine Motivated Therapies (CMT), a nonprofit organization dedicated to utilizing animal assisted therapy to help people with different kinds of physical and mental disabilities. The organization was somewhere between well-established and brand spakin’ new, which ended up proving to be a challenge for our team. How are we to suggest our new ideas without offending what they have already created?

Fortunately, the director of the organization was extremely gracious for our help, and very open to new ideas. My question is, how is nonprofit public relations different than for profit public relations? Obviously, the hardest part about working on a new public relations plan for a nonprofit organization is that there is usually little to no budget whatsoever. In our case, we had a whopping $0.00 to work with. However, I have learned that the public relations industry has found its way into all different kinds of outlets, luckily providing many free outlets.

CMT already had a pretty established website, so we decided to leave that alone, but utilize social media in order to raise more awareness about the organization, and hopefully in the process gain more volunteers. We created a Twitter account for CMT, as well as a blog. Both of these are obviously free, and great ways to gain support of an organization. We also hosted a virtual event which we were able to promote through our blog and tweets about the event. All in all, it turned out to be an amazing experience, dare I say my first taste of “real life” experience. While I can’t say that the nonprofit industry is for me, I can say that I learned many valuable lessons through working with a nonprofit, lessons I feel will definitely help carry me through a career of public relations. What do you all think? How does nonprofit PR differ from for profit PR? Or is there even that big of a difference?