Tuesday, December 31, 2013

What's Your Social Media Personality?

This is a little bit like the quizzes you find in the back of a Seventeen Magazine. What kind of social media personality are YOU? Check all that apply.

PR Daily posted this infographic that breaks down the type of people who are using social media, and it's pretty spot-on.

Most PR students and professionals (myself included) would most likely fall under the "Ultras" category.  We love our social media and we're proud of it and we might even find ourselves getting a little antsy when we can't check it several times a day.

However, there are definitely some classifications that aspiring PR pros don't want to fall under.

  • The Peacocks
It's great to have a lot of followers, but social media isn't a popularity contest. If most of your audience is people that have no relevance to what you're saying, you might as well be talking to yourself
  • The Ranters
Sometimes it's hard to contain our opinions, especially on hot-button issues. It's in our PR nature to want to respond right away. It's okay to speak your mind, as well as it's well thought out and appropriate. Ranting is never encouraged.
  • The Ghosts
What good do anonymous or "fake" profiles do you? If no one knows who you are you can't gain much credibility. Online safety shouldn't be taken lightly but as long as you're smart about what you put out there, you can still be honest about who you are.

So, which social media personality are you? Are you a cross between a few or a completely new breed? We want to know!

Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 Taught Me

With just a day and a half left in 2013, I think it's pretty important to recap what we have learned as PR professionals throughout this year. Otherwise, we might just make the same mistakes in 2014.

  1. PROOFREAD! If we have learned nothing else, I hope this blog and all of the mishaps we have covered have taught us all to read very carefully before clicking 'post.'
  2. Twitter is actually 120 characters. That's right, not 140 characters. If you want your followers to be more interactive, leave them a little room to interact!
  3. Some social media platforms are just trends. With new social networks and applications launching everyday, it can be difficult to determine which ones to invest your time in. Besides, in a few months they may just be swallowed up by an even bigger powerhouse. Simply stick to the needs of your client and its audience and choose platforms based on their needs.
  4. Relax. Of course this easier said than done. Of course we will probably have a few breakdowns in 2014. But, at least we're going to make an conscious effort. Right?
  5. Stay true to yourself. Yes, I am going to end this list with a corny cliche, but this corny cliche is definitely relevant. It's easy to lose yourself in your client, workload, tweets, and Instagram posts. But the best thing you can do for your client is to remain true to your standards. After all, that's why they hired you.
What are some lessons that you learned this year? We would love to hear about your experiences. Comment below!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Best Social Media Campaigns of 2013

With 2013 coming to a close, it has been a year full of some impressive communications campaigns. From Facebook, to Twitter and Vine, it is safe to say that many brands are becoming comfortable with social media outlets for communicating and advertising. Overall, their unique and sometimes powerful messages increase brand awareness effectively.

Here are a few of the top picks:

Dove Real Beauty Sketches

This 3 minute clip has over 130 million views and gained immense popularity on Facebook. Although Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty has been around for a number of years, this video evokes many emotions in the viewer. Specifically geared at women, a forensic artist asks different women to describe themselves physically, then has a stranger also describe their physical appearance.  The end sketch results are significantly different. Ultimately, Dove’s brand is trying to change the perception of beauty and encouraging women to not be so hard on themselves.

Guinness Basketball Commercial

This commercial by Guinness does not sport any flashy party scenes or scantily clad women. Instead, the ad, which has received millions of hits online and thousands of shares on Facebook, conveys a message about friendship and love. The commercial starts off with a few guys playing a game of wheelchair basketball. At the end of the game, all but one of the guys stands up and walks away. The next scene shows the men having beers after the game, with one still in his wheel chair. The narrator says: “Dedication. Loyalty. Friendship. The choices we make reveal the true nature of our character." Since Guinness aligns its brand with masculinity, this commercial was a unique and refreshing approach to advertise the brand.

#MyJourney by Honda

Inspired by a couple that drove for 8 years around the world in their Honda Civic, this innovative social PR campaign encourages consumers to embark on a journey, take an image from their journey, and tweet the picture using the hashtag #MyJourney. The hashtag allows you to follow people on their longest or shortest trips, and also increases global brand awareness by using a large social media outlet such as Twitter.
More and more companies are learning how to utilize social media in order to advertise and increase their brand awareness. With the ability to reach millions of consumers in just seconds, it is a tool that needs to be used in order to keep up with competition.
What are some of your favorite social media campaigns of 2013? Leave us a comment and share your thoughts!

This guest blog post was written by PRowl Staff Member Tessa Cohn.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Top 3 Blog Posts of Fall 2013

As 2013 comes to an end, I always love reflecting on the most interesting and most popular blog posts of the semester. This past fall, each of the blog posts below have reached over 100 plus views, and for good reason. Each blog post embodies all of the elements that make a blog post outstanding; well-written, newsworthy, timely as well as unusual.

1. The Scandalous Side of PR
Written by Lauren Bentley 
The most read blog post of fall 2013 takes a look at ABC's hit drama, Scandal. This is a must read for all of the Olivia Pope fanatics out there!

2. How Introverts Can Succeed in PR
Written by Cara Graeff
Not everyone in PR has to be aggressive and loud! Take a peak at the second most read blog post of fall 2013 to find out why introverts can have amazing careers in PR. 

3. Miley Cyrus, PR Pro?
Written by Hiya Ray
Oh Miley. If she hasn't ruled 2013, I am not sure who has. Be sure to check out this blog post to see how Miley's antics are truly just good PR work at the end of the day. 

These top three posts were written by PRowl Public Relations staff members who all happen to be strategic communication majors in their junior year at Temple University. We cannot wait to see what our staff members produce in 2014! Cheers to 2013, Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Best Ads of 2013

AdWeek chose their top ten ads of 2013. 
You can check them out here.

The list includes KMart's Ship My Pants commercial

and the Dove Real Beauty Sketches commercial, among others.

The ten videos that made the cut had a lot in common.  They were all either touching and heartwarming, like Chipotle's "The Scarecrow" commercial or hilarious like the Geico "Hump Day" commercial.  Just as a story needs to be newsworthy by maintaining relevancy, the same goes for advertisements.  Ads achieve relevancy by making an impact on their viewers. These top ten ads do this by giving viewers something to take away, like a funny phrase (i.e. HUMP DAAAAAY) or a message that resonates with the heart.

Which ad is your favorite? What makes it stand out? We want to hear from you!

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Best (Or The Worst) PR Blunders of 2013

As this is the last full week in 2013, PRowl has decided to recap the year for our readers in PR style, as only we can. To kick things off, here are a few unfortunate incidences that could have been prevented with a little public relations insight.
  1. White people don't get AIDS, at least according to Justine Sacco, PR director at InterActiveCorp (IAC). On Friday, December 20th Sacco sent out a tweet before boarding an 11 hour flight from London to Cape Town, South Africa that read, "Going to Africa. Hope I don't get AIDS. Just kidding. I'm white!" During her wifi-less flight, not only had she become a trending topic, but so had the tag #HasJustineLandedYet. Sacco's insensitive tweet angered people worldwide and she was unable to do any damage control. Once she did land, she deleted her Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook accounts without offering an apology. Sacco has since been let go from IAC. 
  2. Do these yoga pants make me look fat? Don't ask Lululemon co-founder, Chip Wilson, this. After several complaints from customers about the brand's black yoga pants being too sheer, Wilson states, "They don't work for some women's bodies. It's really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure is there over a period of time, how much they use it." Naturally, women everywhere were offended and outraged. While Wilson did later issue an apology, it hasn't seemed to help falling sales this year. 
  3. Funeral crasher. During former South African President Nelson Mandela's memorial service on Tuesday, December 10th, Thamsanqa Jantjie seemed to steal the spotlight. He attended the service posing a fake interpreter for the deaf. Standing just a few feet away from some of the greatest world leaders, including President Barack Obama, Jantjie continued making false motions and gestures for hours, signing neither in American or South African sign language (which covers all 11 of the country's official languages). This not only speaks to a lack of security, but a lack on the PR coordinator's part as well.
  4. Going bananas on game day. Home Depot also found itself in hot water this year after tweeting a picture of two African-American drummers and a white drummer in a monkey suit with the caption, "Which drummer is not like the others?" While the tweet was pulled immediately, it wasn't fast enough before the internet was able to get ahold of it. However, Home Depot did handle damage control quite well, apologizing and firing both the person and the outside agency responsible for the questionable tweet. While they did not disclose information about the employee or the agency, Home Depot's spokesman Stephen Holmes said, "We have zero tolerance for anything so stupid and offensive." Way to go, Depot.
  5. Ever walk into a room and realize everyone was just talking about you? About a month ago, JPMorgan attempted to utilize Twitter to relate to their customers. Twitter users were encouraged to tweet finance-related questions to their account using the tag #AskJPM that would be answered by JPMorgan Vice Chairman Jimmy Lee. However, a simple survey could have clued in the company that most people aren't fans of their work. Less than 24 hours before the chat was set to begin, Twitter users began using the hashtag to tweet sarcastic and anger-filled questions to the company. They decided to cancel the Q&A tweeting, "Bad idea. Back to the drawing board." Now that seems like a sound idea.
Don't let this list discourage you; 2013 wasn't all bad! Continue reading our "Best of 2013" series this week to discover all of the highlights of this phenomenal year!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The End of New Music Promotion?

Shortly after midnight on Thursday, December 12th, Beyoncé dropped her fifth album, “Beyoncé,” completely unannounced. On iTunes, 14 songs and 17 videos suddenly appeared with no prior promotion. Earlier that same week, when asked about what’s to come in 2014, the Chairman of Columbia Records, Rob Stringer said, “Obviously, at some point, Beyoncé will put a record out.” Little did anyone know that “at some point” meant later that week.

As of Wednesday, December 18th, “Beyoncé” has reached #1 on the Billboard Charts, set a new iTunes record and sold 828,773 copies worldwide. In a press release published after the album went on sale, Beyoncé said, “I didn’t want to release my music the way I’ve done it. I’m bored with that.”

Six months ago on Friday, June 14th,“Yeezus,” Kanye West’s sixth solo album leaked to the public without any singles being released prior. This is highly unusual for a rap artist in today’s day and age. Most rap artists, such as Drake, 2 Chainz and even Jay Z, always release radio singles before releasing the album. In regards to releasing a single, Kanye said, “We ain’t got no single to radio. We ain’t got no big NBA campaign or nothing like that….When I listen to the radio, that ain’t where I want to be no more.” Now, Kanye’s album “Yeezus” is still being discussed, as well making its rounds on many of the “Best Albums of 2013” lists.

With world-renowned musicians such as Beyoncé and Kanye releasing their albums with little promotion or no singles, this begins to beg the question: Once one attains a certain level of celebrity, is marketing and promotion no longer needed? Typically, recording artists carefully craft promotion plans that begin advertising the release of a new album months in advance. These plans are meant to hone in on the image that the artist is looking to promote with their new album, release singles, give interviews and even perform parts of the album.

Many artists would be unable to get their new music off the ground without the help of marketing and public relations and it seems that only the elite few are able to successfully release their music without doing this. As this trend seems to be continuing, it’s up to public relations professionals to keep an eye on this, especially as some of us may be working for celebrities one day.

What do you think about Beyoncé dropping her new album unannounced – is this an effective approach that could be applied to other celebrities, or does it only work for artists such as herself and Kanye?

This guest blog post was written by PRowl Staff Member Rachel Draghi

Saturday, December 21, 2013

A Look Back: Black Friday Fiasco

This year’s Black Friday tradition seemed to step on the toes of another popular tradition: Thanksgiving. Stores such as Wal-Mart, Kmart, Macy’s, Kohl’s, etc. opened on Thanksgiving evening starting as early as 5PM. It seems as though the majority of shoppers were not thrilled about Black Friday imposing on their holiday. See Below:

As you can see, consumers were going back and forth about the early door busters this year, but the numbers don’t lie. It turns out the stores that opened on Thanksgiving night sacrificed their sales on Friday. A survey conducted by The National Retail Federation estimated spending fell by 2.9% this year.

Besides the drop in profit, stores also have to worry more and more about mayhem in their stores. Every year there are stories about fights over the last inexpensive television set or iPad, but Black Thursday only increased the violence. Stores such as Wal-Mart acquired popular hashtags like #Walmartfights and #Brawlmart which had thousands of tags overnight. Police activity and security had to be increased this year more than ever.

So the question is, is all of this worth it for the retailers? Is it worth it for the consumers? We want to know your opinion, so comment below!

This guest blog post was written by PRowl Staff Member Nicole Leo.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Email Inbox Etiquette

An email inbox can be overwhelming. Especially in the generation of text messages and tweets, answering emails can seem very time consuming. As an aspiring PR professional, realize you will be relying on email a lot. Winter break is a great time to get organized and catch up!

Although email is a great tool, it can also be a downfall when it is disorganized. During past internships, the number of emails I received in just one hour was intimidating. Here are a few times to keep your inbox organized and to keep yourself sane:

Keep it as unread – If you don't want to read the whole email now, save it for later. Most of the time I am in such a hurry to clean up my inbox I click through emails without reading the whole thing. Instead of skimming through emails, keep it flagged for a little later when you have the time and patience. 
Check your junk mail folder – You never know what is in there until you check it! Try to check it once every day to make sure aren't missing an important message. 
Organize by subject – Creating folders for my inbox was such a lifesaver. If you have a lot of unread notes, organize by subject or sender to get through the important stuff first.
How do you organize your inbox? Let us know!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Instagram Has The Best of ALL Worlds?

The social media network that pushes people to capture and share moments continues to expand their niche. Instagram, the photo-sharing network is now offering direct messaging. This new feature was introduced on Instagram last Thursday.

Does Instagram really have the best of ALL worlds? They managed to create an all rounded network. They now offer videos and direct messaging, which could cause  people to become hesitant on venturing out onto other social media networks. As for me, the moment Instagram introduced  the aforementioned features, I abandoned both my Snapchat and Vine apps seeing that Instagram now provides their features.

From a business stand point, Instagram certainly created an area for organizations, marketing managers and aspiring entrepreneurs to reach their target audience in a more efficient way. Organizations are now given the opportunity to showcase their product through Instagram video. Companies can now show a product demonstration or even submit a video of someone using their service. Gone are the days, of a business having only one option to get to their audience. With the new direct messaging, companies could now get more personal with their consumers. Sending out pictures of their new product or new offering to their selected fans is now an option. Click here to see the video on Instagram Direct Messaging.

What are your views on Instagram's  new features? Let us know!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

#LeadThemOn with Leading Hashtags

Hashtags, or key phrases that identify a topic on social media, are incredibly popular on various platforms and sites. As PR professionals, we should be constantly thinking of new ways to revamp what's already out there to increase visibility and up engagement . We must find creative ways to give users something they can engage with, rather than just respond to. In a sense, you have to lead them to your brand or idea instead of just stating facts and hoping people got the message.

Leading hashtags, also called Mad Lib hashtags are ones placed at the beginning of a post to start a sentence that the user can finish. It gives them the chance to go beyond the message and truly engage your content. As with normal hashtags, leading hashtags should still be well thought out and catchy so that users remember to include them in their posts. Remember, instead of the user creating a post that includes your hasgtag, they now have to create a sentence that flows with it, using your hasgtag as a springboard of sorts. Because the user has to put a little more work in, you have to make it worth their while.

There are so many advantages to creating a leading hashtag for your next social media endeavor. Not only do leading hashtags introduce a topic, they start a conversation. Users have the chance to share their personality and opinions while engaging your content. Because the hashtag comes at the start of the post, it receives more visibility. Before you know it, you'll be trending!

While leading hashtags can be great conversation starters, it is up to you to keep the conversation going. As users participate, take feedback, analyze how your audience is responding, and decide the next topic of conversation from there.

Have you ever used or generated a leading hashtag? Share your experience with us!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Crisis Communication Crash & Burn

Employee scandals.
Illegal activity.
Product recalls.
These, and more, are all things that call for crisis communication.

Temple University recently announced the cancellation of seven sports teams and has found itself in the midst of a situation that could use a lot of crisis communication.  While an initial announcement was made, there has been a lot of backlash from students, parents and faculty about the issue and minimal information has been provided from the university.

I'm not here to place blame on Temple, I am simply analyzing the situation from the perspective of a public relations student. While I haven't had much first-hand experience with crisis communication, I've learned a great deal about it and there are several things that should be done in an instance like this:

  • Get accurate information out fast. If you don't the press will and word of mouth will and the message you were hoping to convey is hopelessly lost in translation.
  • Never say "no comment". Always have something to say, or others will end up putting words in your mouth and taking your caution as avoidance and guilt.
  • Use empathy. Put yourself in the shoes of the people that are being affected. Make it known that you are doing so. Generic responses and cookie cutter actions are only going to show people that you're disconnected with your audience.
Based on what I've learned during my education here at Temple, the university could up their crisis communication and handle the situation more effectively. It's a tricky issue, I think everyone understands that. What would you do if faced with such a crisis?

Saturday, December 14, 2013

How To Run A Meeting Like A Pro

Meetings are an unavoidable part of the professional world and college life. Most of the time meetings can be somewhat productive, others drag on with uninspired talk and few conclusions reached.    

The key to having more productive meetings lies in careful planning and some guidelines. This can make or break your meeting.
  1. Ban all electronic devices from note taking. Apart from the person keeping minutes, no one should have a screen to hide behind. All too often I see someone in a meeting with his or her phone hidden under the desk checking some e-mail or Instagram post that just couldn’t wait. Warn the group to keep their phones away and provide pen and paper when needed. The less distractions the better the productivity of the meeting. 
  2. Plan the meeting with actionable steps in mind. All too often people leave meeting thinking they just wasted an hour of their life or thinking that they could of just handled this group project over e-mail which leads to miscommunication and missed deadlines. Ensure that everyone in the meeting has something to do as a result of the meeting and recount what was done at the end of the meeting. 
  3. Keep an eye on the clock. Keep track of how much time is spent on one subject at a time. Having time constraints creates a sense of urgency and purpose to the meeting. Keep moving. Start on time and end on time. 
  4. Have a solid to-do list and make it visible for all in the room. Keep the agenda short and if you can’t come up with any solid decisions that need to be made, cancel the meeting.
  5. Reoccurring meetings should be short and highly structured to avoid the “business as usual” atmosphere. No meeting should be exactly the same.   
  6. Write up the minutes of the meetings and e-mail out action items. Appoint someone to keep track of who’s responsible for doing what and by when. This helps people understand that the end of the meeting signals the start of taking action.

These tips are great for a traditional boardroom meeting. If you’re feeling bold, hold a walking meeting to a park or an open and quiet space. This can be a good way to bring energy to an important discussion.

All and all, keep organized and always have purpose to any meeting you attend or host.

This guest blog post was written by PRowl Staff Member Nathan Wilson

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Death of the Press Release

If there's one thing that reporters always say it's that they're busy. They're constantly under deadline and their phones are ringing off the hook. They don't have time to read lengthy pitches. The key is to keep it short, sweet and to the point. 

The age of social media in which we've found ourselves has changed the art of pitching even more. Instead of emails, reporters are looking to their Twitter timelines for information and potential stories.  How can press releases possibly compete with 140 character pitches? They probably can't.

Okay, so maybe that's a little extreme.  However, I think that there is something to say about the effectiveness of press releases.  PR professionals might be too quick to resort to the traditional press release in times where a simple pitch email with no attachment or a quick tweet (120 characters to leave room for response) might do just as well.

We all know how frustrating it is for a reporter to disregard a carefully thought out pitch and release, and I think it would be more beneficial to simply send the pitch and not attach the press release.  If they want details, they'll reach out.  The email size will be smaller without the attachment so maybe they'll be more likely to open it! I'm not afraid to admit this might be too simplistic of a media relations viewpoint.

What are your thoughts? Is the press release here to stay or will it soon go the way of snail mail?

Sunday, December 8, 2013

How To Strengthen Press Relations

It’s no secret that public relations representatives and journalists need each other to complete their jobs effectively.

Without journalists, public relations reps wouldn’t have anywhere to send press releases advertising their client’s upcoming events. On the other hand, if a journalist wasn’t getting any press releases, what events would he or she write about for their publications?

For most public relations professionals, tips on writing a great press release are picked up early in news writing and media classes. However, one thing that isn’t taught is how to form long lasting relationships with journalists at local publications.

In order to form these relationships with media members, it can be beneficial to look into these practices:

1. Send press releases well in advance- Like public relations professionals, journalists have tight schedules. It is important to keep in mind that many press members have their schedules worked out a month or more in advance, so sending that press release a week or two before an important event may not yield a strong press turnout. Sending a press release as early as possible will not only increase the chance of media coverage, but it will also show local press contacts that you respect their schedules.

2. Be Responsible- not desperate- with follow ups- It is always a good idea to follow up if a reporter has not responded to a press release you sent a week ago, however, reaching out multiple times within a few days is not going to get the event covered or pitch read. Often times, journalists’ email inboxes are swamped with press releases each week, so making a single phone call a week after it has been sent is a good idea.

3. Give information, not opinions- As most public relations professionals know, press releases should be concise and may include quotes and background information for good measure. However, journalists want the facts, not opinionated adjectives that describe the event. Including these words would only waste space and time when a journalist is trying to read through a press release.

Sticking to these strategies will show journalists that we as public relations folk respect their positions.

This guest blog post was written by PRowl Staff Member Maggie Wurst.