2016 Habits for Life and Public Relations

Happy 2016 PR Coordinators! It’s hard to believe 365 days went by so quickly and now we have a brand new 366 days to make our mark on the world (yay for February 29th, giving us an extra day to accomplish things).

For this post I’m going to talk about what you can do to refocus your mind and habits for 2016 that will help you in PR and life. Then next week I will finish my blog series on parts 4 and 5 focusing on crisis communication and culture.

This year focus on what you want to accomplish in your career and your life by writing out tasks that will lead towards your goals. That way you can make sure by the time 2017 arrives you are ready for a new set of challenges!

As PR pros we have to have quick thinking, constantly be learning, have excellent people and communication skills, and be creative. Maybe those four traits are what appealed you to the PR field (for me it did), but they are also positive traits to have in your everyday life too. They help you grow as a person and be ready for new challenges. So here are some tips to keep your mind focused this year on your life and career.

  1. Quick Thinking
    Crises and unexpected situations can be a constant struggle in life, something falls through at work or your car breaks down, so you need to be ready to think on your feet to quickly solve the problem the best way possible. You do not want to waste half a day trying to find a five minute solution. So when you have some free time during your day (maybe when you’re at lunch) write down some common scenarios that could arise in your life/work. Then jot down some solutions you could have to help solve the issue.
    Life Example: Your car starts making some weird noises and you know it needs to be looked at quickly. Have a list of numbers of family or friends who could help you or have a few local auto shops you could call and have your car inspected.
    PR Example: Your job requires you to plan multiple events throughout the year and sometimes option one isn’t available. So have a list of multiple caters, venues, and florists available in a handy location.
  2. Constantly be Learning
    Nothing in life ever stays the same, so just because you’re out of school that shouldn’t stop you from teaching yourself new things. With technology constantly changing we are forced to keep learning or fall behind, but this shouldn’t restrict you from only learning about the newest technology. Teach yourself that language you always liked, learn to cook some new meals, or study up on some topics of interest. Public relations is a growing and ever changing field, because our focus is on the public and social media we have to always be ready to change to continue growing in our field.
    Life example: Take one hour every week to spend it teaching yourself something new.
    PR Example: Always be ready to learn about constant social media trends and issues by reading up to date articles and trending news. As you learn about the next trend, you’ll become a bigger asset at work. Try getting in the habit of reading one or two articles every morning or evening to always be aware of industry changes.
  3. People Skills and Communication
    Unless you never leave your home dealing with family, friends, and the public is a daily activity for most people. Developing relationships and communicating with people helps you to grow as a person. Both of those skill sets are vital in the PR world because we are communicators. Whether we are communicating to the public on something new or helping to inform on an issue, if communication isn’t done right we have to fix miscommunication with crisis communication. This relates to our everyday life because if we are trying to work out a dispute with a loved one we need to be able to effectively communicate our point of view while still being able to hear and understand their view.
    Life Example: You and your roommate thought there was an agreement made on informing each other when there would be visitors, but communication was lost and now you both are upset. Learning to effectively communicate with each other can help solve the problem and clear things up for in the future.
    PR Example: Your new project at work requires you and three other coworkers to create a new advertising jingle by the end of the day. This task screams people skills and communication! A good way to be prepared for this task is to brainstorm ideas with the group and discuss the best option and more forward together.
  4. Creativity
    Your creativity helps your imagination to grow and can be one of your greatest assets. This allows you to help give creative gifts to family and friends, decorate your home, put together a great wardrobe, and more. Creativity can be a huge asset at work because if you can create new things before the competition, you can become more valuable. There are many different forms you can use to be creative including: words, art, decorating, gift giving, sewing, etc.
    Life Example: Try to stay creative throughout the year by working on small projects. Maybe paint that old bookcase, sew yourself a new blanket, or learn to sketch. This will help your mind to grow and give you a nice break from life’s stress.
    PR Example: Look at new and past advertising campaigns and imagine how you would change them for the better. This will help to keep your mind sharp and constantly be ready any upcoming projects.
    ***To make it more advance, give yourself a time limit***

Let 2016 be the year that you grow even more as a person and PR professional. Don’t let bad habits overtake your life, but instead focus on your goals and dive into the year with success all throughout your life!
Until next time stay warm!

Tackling Crisis Management as a PR Pro!

Happy early Friday! I wish everyone an enjoyable and hopefully warm weekend! As we are getting ready to end the second full week of 2015, I thought a blog topic about being prepared for the New Year would be helpful.

We all deal with problems in our lives, both personal and professional, but we can be prepared for the problems at work. As PR practitioners we always have to be ready for different situations. Although we may wish for a perfect outcome, we can be prepared for problems. This is where crisis management comes into play.

Crisis management is when a business needs to handle an emergency situation quickly and accurately. The best advice I can provide is plan ahead. Have a plan for possible problems and decide on the best ways to handle the situation. For example, the vice president of a company decides to quit and go to a local media outlet and claim the company is mistreating employees. Your business needs to be ready to prove their innocence with facts, or if the claim is true own up to it, and explain how the problems will be solved.

Before I describe some steps to follow, always remember the objective of crisis management. The objective should be to minimize the damage of the company’s reputation and long term impact. This helps to ensure the company will survive after the crisis has ended. So here are some of my opinions for the best way to handle a crisis.

1. Get the facts

Before talking with the media and public find out all the correct information. You can’t expect to solve the issue if you don’t fully understand it.

2. Own up to the problem
If your company is to blame for the current circumstance, own up to it! By accepting blame for your part in the situation, it can show the company isn’t trying to hide anything. By denying responsibility, the truth could eventually be discovered and that crisis will be worse than the current one.

3. Solve the issue
Now that you know the problem and accepted responsibility for any parts you may have, it’s now time to figure out how to solve the situation. Meet with business officials and work out an ideal plan of how the company will approach the situation. You may not be able to solve it all at once, but be sure you’re heading in the right direction.

4. Choose the proper media channels
Depending on the type of crisis your company is dealing with, it’s important to use the right form of channel to communicate with your audience. For instance, if the company posted an inappropriate Twitter status, use Twitter to address how the problem will be solved. However, the larger the situation is you may need to use more channels. Just remember all social media posts should contain the same message. Having different responses will show inconsistencies and appear as if the company is hiding information.

5. Choosing the right spokesperson
When addressing the crisis, try to have a recognizable company figure in front of the camera. By using a familiar face, the public will be more trusting about the received information.

6. Learn from the mistakes
Remember what lessons were learned during the crisis and don’t let it happen again! Take each situation, good or bad, as a learning experience that can help you and the company in the future. Whether it’s from incorrectly handling social media or ensuring the same crisis doesn’t happen again.

So whether you’re a company official or just a PR pro trying to improve on your skills I recommend practice! Take a fictional crisis and imagine how you would handle it. Write out all your steps and talk it over with a friend or colleague. The more practice you have the better you can be!

Have you ever dealt with a difficult situation or problem? How did you handle it and what did you learn? Comment below!

Until next week have an enjoyable weekend!
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PR New Year’s Resolutions 2015

Happy 2015! I want to start with apologizing for not posting any blog entries during December, but the holidays kept me from having any free time for my blog. But now I’m back and ready for an all new year of PR blog entries to share with you!

This week’s post is going to focus on how you can improve your PR skills in the New Year. Making New Year’s resolutions are always popular, but difficult to continue throughout the year. I like to write smaller goals that will work towards a larger resolution. That way when I complete my smaller tasks I feel accomplished and it encourages me to stay focus on my larger goal! So I hope I can help you achieve some of your PR goals this year.

Here are a few goals you can focus on for 2015:

1. Discipline
Although PR allows you to be creative, it’s important to remember to discipline yourself. It’s easy to work on fun and creative campaigns, but the backbone in PR are the skills you will need throughout your career. They include: writing, focusing, researching and interpersonal skills. So for 2015, be sure to set aside time to determine if you are giving those basic skills enough attention. And if not, take 30 minutes out of your week to practice them.

2. Negotiation
It’s important to always keep the public updated with information on your company or client. One of the best ways to spread your message is through the media and you’ll need to effectively communicate with journalists. You can do this through email pitches, in-person meetings, a brief video about the topic, or any other way you can grab their attention. During that brief time you need to inform journalists about the importance of your topic. Try improving your negotiating skills this year by practicing on friends or co-workers. Even challenge yourself! When you’re with a group try to pitch a fun activity and see how many agree with your idea. Be sure not to be pushy or waste ten minutes about your idea.

3. Creative Thinking
Never let your creative thoughts stop! You would be surprised how a midnight snack can bring about a great idea. So for 2015 try to be creative in all aspects of your life. Whether it’s a new DIY project or filming a fun YouTube video, this can help your mind stay active and be ready for the next PR campaign!

4. Networking
It’s never too early or too late to network with other professionals in ALL career fields. A new connection can open many possibilities for you. From insightful PR advice to a new friend who can introduce you to a possible client. Try attending a local networking event or even get to know some of the workers at your favorite coffee shop!

5. Attention to Details
Grammar mistakes shouldn’t be your only concern when it comes to the details. As a PR professional it’s important to anticipate large and small problems, evaluate situations, and analyze data. I like to view PR as looking at the “Big Picture” while still analyzing every frame. To test your attention to details try playing puzzle and search & finds games. Also, take a situation you may come across and analyze it from the beginning to end.

To sum up this week’s post remember to never underestimate the importance of your PR skills. PR is an ever changing field because we constantly need new ways to interact with the public. Try to maintain your basic skills even when learning new ones and you will be grateful!

Now I want to share with you my PR New Year’s resolutions. My goals are to become a better communicator with journalists, network more often, and learn more about the different industries in PR. Please comment below your PR Goals for 2015.

Until next week have a Happy New Year!
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Maintaining Brand Loyalty as a PR Coordinator Part 2

Welcome back! Today I will explain the importance of maintaining brand loyalty and some steps that can help you to maintain it with your current and future audience. A brief summary of last week’s post explained building brand loyalty can help create a positive reputation for your client while gaining a loyal audience base, who will consistently purchase your brand.

So last time you helped Pete, from Pete’s Pets, create a brand loyalty following and after a year you are finally seeing your results! Pete has consistent customers who choose to shop at his stores because of the safe products. However, Pete’s Pets noticed they are not gaining as many new customers and are looking to you for the answer! Don’t worry there are some easy steps you can take in your Pete’s Brand Loyalty Campaign to help generate a new audience while still maintaining your current customers.

1. Consistency
Even though you are trying to reach a larger public, you can’t forget to maintain the company values of your client. You can maintain their values while still showing off a different side of the company. For instance, Wendy’s offers their customers full sized portions of their burgers by “not cutting corners”. But you can still inform the public about another positive service. Wendy’s also offers healthy alternatives for kid’s meals. You were able to maintain the company values while still reaching a new audience, parents who want to ensure their children eat healthy.

2. Customer Feedback
It’s important to listen to the public. If they are asking for “longer lasting” bubble gum or better customer service representatives it can benefit the company by trying to solve those problems.

3. Personal Identity
When you build brand loyalty, you are also building a sense of identity for your client. The audience who only purchase your client’s products will relate to the company with a sense of identity. For instance, people who only purchase Bounty Paper Towels, view Bounty as part of the family; since they always rely on the paper towels to help clean up messes. As a PR Coordinator, help your client create a personal identity through their company and it will help them to better relate to the public.

4. Social Media
Social media is a positive way to communicate with an audience, if done correctly. Don’t try to create multiple new social sites, but never update the content. It’s better to have one or two consistent social media sites than five that never receive updates.

5. Marketing Objectives
Brand loyalty customers purchase the product, not because of price but because of reliability, reputation, or commitment. So it’s important to always keep your audience updated on what your client offers. You can do this with three specific objectives.
1. Mind Awareness – Be up to date with competitors then remind the audience why your client is still number one. You can do this by showing how your client is maintaining their reputation or updating their products to fit their customers’ needs.
2. Brand Attributes – This shows how the client’s brand fits the needs of their audience. You can show this with examples through advertising, social media, or in store promotions.
3. Call to Action – This is best used when targeting an audience who is ready to purchase a new product. For instance, targeting college students in August when they are looking for the best laptop/tablets to use for schoolwork.

It’s important to remember that maintaining brand loyalty helps your client keep a loyal customer base. Maintaining brand loyalty also means keeping up to date with the changes in society and your customers. Don’t forget it’s important to always try and bring in new customers, but you still need to maintain loyalty with your current audience. So now that I provided you with the information, let’s see how you can help Pete’s Pets maintain their brand loyalty!

Pete’s has a loyal following of dog and cat owners, but they are being consistently asked about when small animals and products will be available. So Pete wants to begin expanding their customer base to small animals (hamsters, rabbits, birds, etc.). Although you will be targeting different pet owners, Pete’s values will still stay the same. Pete will continue to offer safe, American made products to large and small animals. But now you are going to inform the public about the new safe products Pete’s is offering. To better relate to the public, you create a store mascot/symbol for Pete’s Pets. You named her Safety Katie and she is a brown rabbit icon you can view online. Safety Katie will help everyone learn about all the safe products sold at Pete’s Pets. Safety Katie is all over social media and the company’s website and she is reaching out to a whole new audience while still being useful for Pete’s current customers.

Now by following those steps you were able to continue working with your client and help him reach a new audience without excluding his current and loyal customers. And if you noticed throughout your Brand Loyalty Campaign you utilized your marketing objectives.

Mind Awareness – Heard what the public wanted (small animals) and took action.
Brand Attributes – Informed the public about the positives of Pete’s Pets (Safety Katie).
Call to Action – Using advertising and social media to encourage the public to shop at Pete’s Pets.

I know I provided you with a lot of information, but if you want to learn more about brand loyalty you can read the Marketing Profs articles. Also, Retention Science posted an article that discusses the difference between Customer Loyalty and Brand Loyalty.

Thanks for reading and please post any comments or questions below for me to answer. Until the next post have a great week!
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PR Campaigns: Creative Ways to Interact with your Audience

Hello PR Readers! With October suddenly upon us we have autumn traditions, cool nights, Halloween activities, and candy to enjoy! As a PR Coordinator try to take advantage of the holidays and use it as a way to interact with your audience. Interacting with your audience can create a better image of your company and create a lasting relationship. So instead of focusing on the short term goal of earning sales try to focus on a long term goal of brand loyalty.

There are many ways you can interact with your audience and show your brand in a positive light. The purpose is to be unique and to stay away from similar ideas being used by your competitors! However, great unique ideas don’t just appear in your mind. Usually you’ll go through five or ten bad or boring ideas before you finally come up with a great one. And don’t be afraid to brainstorm with friends or coworkers. By bouncing ideas off each other you can create a great plan with a piece from everyone’s ideas!
So how do you start to come up with an interactive concept for your audience? I find it helpful when you try to focus on a certain theme. That way your brain isn’t scattered, but you’re still able to think freely. Here is a list of some areas you could try.

1.Humor
Focus on a theme that would involve making your audience laugh and enjoy themselves. For instance, Hershey is trying to encourage adults to purchase their candy brand for trick or treating this year, how can you persuade your audience? Create a quiz that will determine what scary or cute costume will match your sweet tooth this Halloween. For instance, a woman who enjoys traditional Halloween costumes (clown, pirate, etc.) could receive the response that a traditional Hershey chocolate bar would be perfect for her light heartedness relating to Halloween. This will help to encourage the public to buy Hershey candies, but also have a positive image in the public’s mind throughout the year.

2.All Ages
Try having a theme that centers on a family friendly activity that parents and kids can enjoy. Let’s use the Parker Brothers game, Monopoly, because the company hasn’t been receiving as much social media activity and they want to try to increase their online popularity. The company can use Facebook and post simple and fun non-competitive ways to play Monopoly for all ages. For instance, a family that has three children between the ages of eight and eleven can try to play Monopoly the Camping Edition! Simple clear instructions can explain that instead of owning property you can visit other “camp sites” and instead of paying bills or taxes you have to try to offer camping advice on how to start a fire without a match or things to avoid when camping. This activity can increase positive words about the game and provide non-competitive ways for families to play.

3.Creative
Within the past few years Do It Yourself (DIY) projects has become more popular thanks to Pinterest and HGTV television shows. And the best part of DIY projects is they are usually inexpensive and can be a lot of fun. Your client, Valspar Paints, wants their audience to know about different ways their products can be used instead of the traditional way of just painting the walls. Since its Halloween you deiced to kick off the campaign with a Halloween themed project! By using Valspar’s Pinterest account every few days you can post a photo and instructions of a new way to use their product. For example, using their product to paint a pumpkin instead of the traditional gutting and cutting. This saves more time and by using different colors can help you create a truly unique pumpkin that will last the entire Halloween season!

To summarize this post, building and maintaining brand loyalty is very important in keeping your client or business doing well. By brainstorming ideas (especially bad ones) with a group can help you find that one great idea. Never be afraid to think outside the norm and away from your competitors. And know your audience! By knowing your audiences you can better create a campaign that will target them and your client’s goals.

Finally, I want to share with you a current campaign for this Halloween season called “Halloween Hills”. The company, Target, used their Instagram account to offer their audience creative DIY projects and recipes for the Halloween season. Their audience is able to interact on the site by clicking on a “trick” or “treat”. Then they can post on the photo which project they tried and enjoyed. If you visit their site, you can see they utilized a Funny, All Ages, DIY, concept for their audience!

Well I hope you learned about creative ways to build a campaign concept and how interacting can help to build brand loyalty. Be sure to check out next week’s article which will focus more in depth about brand loyalty and how you can help your company or client achieve it!
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