Sunday, November 23, 2014

Misuse of Social Media Spells Trouble For PR

Although the use of social media has become a requirement in the public relations field, it can also have its downsides.  Not only does the rate at which information disseminates make a PR professional’s job even harder, but controlling public discourse has become nearly impossible. 

The recent GamerGate issue is a perfectly example of this. What started out as an attempt to expose a gaming journalist, Nathan Grayson, for supposedly giving a female game developer, Zoe Quinn, a positive review of her game simply because they were thought to be dating, snowballed into many women within the gaming industry coming out against the sexism within the industry and within the games themselves. The resulting hash tag, GamerGate, came about as a response to those women that were speaking out, sometimes harassing them via Twitter and even sending them death threats.

Among some of the people that spoke out about the gender issues in today’s games were Arthur Chu, a former Jeopardy contestant who has been published in many places online discussing the issue of sexism in games, and Ian Miles-Cheong, editor-in-chief of Gameranx, a popular gaming magazine.

A statement that Cheong made made him the target of GamerGate, however the people of the movement didn’t attack Cheong on twitter, but rather Arthur Chu, the completely wrong person.

This is where it get’s interesting for public relations professionals. How do you represent your client in a way that clears their name entirely when in order to do so you would have to find a way to address every single person that attacked your client on Twitter? That’s borderline impossible, especially when most people involved with GamerGate remain anonymous, using different usernames and e-mails to mask who they are. How can you change the audience’s view about incorrect facts when you don’t even know who your audience is?

The answer is, you can’t. Social media at its best is a way for public relations professionals to do their job, to interact with their audience and to present consistent branding. Social media at its worst means almost a total lose of control for public relations professionals.

What do public relations professionals do when the one tool they use the most turns against them? Let us know how you would handle this situation as a PR professional in the comments!  

This guest blog post was written by PRowl staff member Hannah Litchfield.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Why Learning How To Code Can Enhance Your PR Career

As technology becomes more ingrained into our everyday lives, do you ever stop to wonder exactly how those websites and apps are created? Learning programming languages, such as HTML, CSS, or Javascript, are additional skills that could be added to your resume and increase your marketability. 

New Ways to Help Clients
If you identify an aspect of a clients website that could be updated, having basic web development skills would immediately fix the problem.  Rather than going through loopholes to find a developer, you could easily do a minor update; thus saving your client money and forging a better relationship.

Join a Startup
Have you ever thought of doing public relations for a tech startup? Learning how to code can give you a foot in the door. Having, at most, a rudimentary understanding of programming languages allows you to communicate with everyone at the startup about the product or service. This makes you an invaluable part of the team and helps to grow the company.

Ways to Learn

  • Programs, such as GirlDevelop It, host classes specifically dedicated to teaching women how to code.

  • If you are still in school, and have a few extra credits, a minor in computer science or digital media technologies would also help.

Learning to code can be an incredibly beneficial skill, but don’t feel pressure to code just because everyone else is learning. If staring at a computer screen with a bunch of letters, numbers, and symbols is not your cup of tea, that’s completely understandable. But, I encourage you to give it a shot. Those symbols on the screen can turn into programs that make your life and career easier and profitable.

This guest blog post was written by PRowl staff member Janelle Grace.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Interview Moves (Like Jagger)

Winter break is quickly approaching and with it comes prime job hunting time.When it comes to the interview, we've had posts on how to land one, proper attire, and even informational interviews. However, we haven't given as much attention to the body language we use.

We know that body language speaks just as loudly as our verbal communication and we're aware of obvious movements we should not use...but what exactly should we do? A recent article on Mashable pinpointed several very useful tips to keep in the back of your mind while trying to score your dream job. The following are just a few that I personally found surprising and may help you as well.

  • Don't make direct eye contact. "Um, excuse me?" I said the same thing. Although most of us have been taught to do this, too much direct eye contact can be a bit unsettling for the interviewer. Instead, opt for what the article calls "direct face contact." Choose several different points on the face to focus on for seconds at a time for a more natural gaze.
  • Show your palms. Studies have shown that when your palms are facing up, it sends a signal to our limbic brain communicating honesty, engagement, and positivity. Patti Wood, a body language expert, says, "It’s one of the reasons we shake hands, to show the open palm. It’s so tied to survival instincts ... If we don’t see open palm gestures, it puts us on our guard."
  • Plant your feet on the ground. This tip is also grounded (no pun intended) in science. Apparently keeping your feet planted firmly on the ground makes it easier to think quickly. It allows you to move between the limbic reptilian brain (creative thought) and the neocortex brain (rational thought) to answer highly complex questions more quickly. I suppose that's where we get the phrase "Think/quick on your feet."
For the complete list and even more tips to put you a step ahead of the rest during interview season, read the rest of the original article here. Best of luck!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Tourism PR: Cities Need PR Too

When you think about public relations, a lot of areas come to mind like agency, entertainment, and event planning. One industry that you may not think of is tourism PR. It was not until after my study abroad experience that I began to consider this as a viable field I wanted to pursue. It combined all the things I loved- Philadelphia, traveling, and public relations. The only problem was I knew little to nothing about this rarely mentioned industry. But a few information interviews later, I've come up with some “need to know” points about travel PR:

  • It’s not just about travel. This industry isn't simply about marketing to travelers so they visit your city. You’ll be working with a lot of different industries that encompass the visitor experience from arts and entertainment to local hotels and hospitality.
  • You need to know your markets. Tourism PR works to reach the domestic, international, and niche markets, so it’s important to know who your audience is. These can include either a specific city like Boston or London or a group like the LGBT community. Being aware of the culture or needs of who you’re reaching will affect your messaging.
  • Bloggers are changing the job. The increase in travel bloggers is affecting the way tourism PR professionals are doing their job. Now, travel bloggers are pitching THEM! These freelance bloggers pitch their post ideas in the hopes of getting their stories picked up and purchased.
  • Sponsorships are increasing. Not only are travel bloggers changing the industry, but so is sponsored content. The future of tourism PR will see less traditional pitching to media outlets and more sponsorships.

Tourism PR isn't simply about promoting your city in the hopes of attracting visitors. It encompasses so many elements and industries that it’s often similar to agency life. But of course the most important thing to remember about tourism PR is that it takes a passion for your city and a love for showing what is has to offer.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Holiday Shopping in Your Inbox

Prepare for an inbox of coupons and promo codes this holiday season.

We've taken e-mail for granted. We use it most often for business purposes rather than personal purposes, but it remains a tactic for marketing professionals everywhere.  E-blasts, promotional codes, weekly updates, and blog content are all sent out as attention-grabbers via e-mail.

(Source: Here's The Thing)
According to Experian Marketing, over 90% of marketers are using e-mail in their marketing plan this holiday season. This puts e-mail in a more common place than social media. Chances are companies are using free media regardless, but their audience and focus are both factors of what channel receives the  most effort. Ultimately, we check our inboxes compulsively for the sake of business, so why do marketers reach out to us on the same outlet for the sake of consumerism?

The biggest holiday sales and shopping occur online, surpassing Black Fridays sales on Cyber Monday, the Monday following Thanksgiving. It's a virtual world for the holiday shopper, e-commerce and digital marketing staying one step ahead of the game.

As aspiring communication professionals, we understand that everyone has something to promote. Send out my e-blast, I'll send out your e-blast. Digital marketing is a perfect opportunity to differentiate marketing from public relations, and furthermore, organic promotion from that of paid advertisements.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Why Every Company Needs A #AlexFromTarget

I’m sure you are all well aware of topic that was trending on twitter, #alexfromtarget.  I mean who isn’t? The internet is a strange place. The topics the internet makes popular not the topics you would think.  PR professionals are forever trying to find that “thing” that the internet is going to take and run with.  The hashtag Alex from Target was the most random hashtag but somehow everyone on the internet love it. 

The New York Times did a study trying to figure out why #alexfromtarget was so popular.  There were many speculations that this was a marketing stunt from Target.  There was also talk about this just being some random girl, posting on Twitter a Target employee.  Trying to figure out just how this happened.  Andrew Lih, a journalism professor from American University cannot find anything.   He said “the internet is more like your local high school where inexplicably the crowd picks something that is not that interesting and elevates it to popularity status.”

As future PR professionals and working with social media, staying up to date with trend topics on Twitter and Facebook.  There is always a new topic or new hashtag that people are using throughout the country and the world.  Companies all over try time and time again to find a topic that people will hashtag on Twitter.  There is no certainty about the internet and what becomes popular becomes popular for now reason at all. 

Target used Alex, their staff member, to their advantage.  They knew just how to capitalize on the hashtag.  One part of knowing how to have a trend take off is knowing your public.  By knowing your public, it is way easier to figure out what your followers are going to respond to.  The better you know your audience when creating a content plan the more activity your company’s account will receive and also the more followers a company will gain.  What do you think about the hashtag Alex from Target?  

This guest blog post was written by PRowl staff member Kristen Hallahan. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Capstone: A Survival Guide

You’ve made it through almost all of college; you’re feeling experienced and ready to take on the world. There’s only one (huge) thing standing in your way: capstone.  Capstone is the culmination of every course you’ve taken in your major.  It’s basically a test to see if you’re ready for what’s beyond the comfort of the classroom.  

Although it is intimidating, if you do it right, you’ll be confident in your abilities after graduation and you’ll have an awesome piece to put in your portfolio.  Don’t fret because here are some tips to help you get through it.

Time Management:  More than anything else, this course is going to challenge your time management skills.  You know how teachers always say, “This is not a project you can do at the last minute?”  And we all know that’s usually not true, except when it comes to capstone. 

If you’re not starting to work on this project the first week of class, then you’re already behind.  Understandably, most people have work, internships and other classes going on while they are taking capstone. But if you don’t make this project your top priority, you’re setting yourself up for a panic attack mid-semester.

Teamwork:  Obviously, all college students love working with groups. And it’s no surprise that group work is going to be a major part of your career no matter what you do.  Here’s the trick, instead of looking at working with a team as a hindrance, use it to your advantage!  

In the case of capstone, doing the whole thing by yourself would be extremely difficult, if not impossible.  It’s going to be tough, some days you’ll be freaking out, other days your teammates will be freaking out.  Just remember the only way you’ll get through it is by working together.

  Seems like a no-brainer, especially if you’re a communications student, but you’d be surprised.  By failing to effectively communicate, you’re only going to make it harder for yourself.

If you don’t understand part of the assignment, make sure you ask.  If you know you’ll be especially busy one week, let your team know.  If you need clarification from the client, reach out to them.  Make sure you are checking in with your team, your instructor and the client every step of the way to avoid miscommunication that could set you behind. 

There will be times when it feels like it’ll never be over, like you’ll die before you get through capstone.  It’s going to be one of the hardest things you’ve ever done, but in the end it will be worth it.  Good luck!

Do you have any survival tactics for getting through capstone?  Let us know in the comments! 

This guest blog post was written by PRowl staff member Genevieve Greene.