April Fool’s Day; a brand’s opportunity to shine.

With April Fool’s Day being last week, it seemed as if one trend was popular on social media: brands promoting joke products, some of them more believable than others.  Some brands, such as Fruit of the Loom, announced their products (mini “underwear irons,” in their case) as far in advance as a week ahead, in order for more people to buy into it.

As a fan of American Eagle on Facebook, I stumbled upon a video on my news feed promoting American Beagle Outfitters, a clothing line for dogs.  I thought it was an interesting idea, as there seems to be a new trend of dog owners dressing up their pets.  I even told my parents about it.  It was not until reading an article on PR Daily that it occurred to me that it was a hoax.

This day of pranks allows for brands to let their creativity shine through on social media outlets, and many of the products were imaginative ideas that most consumers would probably welcome, but would be impossible to produce.  For instance, Domino’s UK tweeted a picture of a Domino’s “Edibox,” a pizza box that instead of being made of cardboard, is entirely pizza crust, with the tagline: “Why think outside the box, when you can eat it?”  Another clever post was Tic Tac’s announcement on Facebook of a pack dubbed “Tic Tac Shakeless,” that claimed to be engineered to prevent people from shaking their Tic Tac boxes, so others would be less likely to notice and ask for a mint.

Taking advantage of a unique day to allow for clever utilization of social media is a smart way to gain publicity. Most of the joke products didn’t seem so authentic that people truly believed them, but if executed well, they seemed to be almost believable enough to get some consumers wondering. Best of all, they get people talking.

In the instance of American Eagle, fan response to American Beagle was so high that the company now claims to be offering a limited edition line of dog clothing this fall.  They also took advantage of the gag to promote a good cause-the video leads viewers to a page where they can donate to the ASPCA.  It’s good to know that I was not the only one who fell for their joke!

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By: Allison Knouse

Allison is a sophomore communication interest major with a minor in journalism.  Along with being involved in PRSSA-UD, she is a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars.  Follow her on Twitter: @allisonkuhnouse.

 

A Heart Issue: Is PR a force for Good, or Just Another Business Objective?

“The days of PR spin, lightweight messaging and covering up corporate activity are long gone. PR is the corporate conscience”

-Chris Wermann, corporate affairs director of Home Retail Group.

After reading an article in PRWeek by Ruth Wyatt, I was drawn to really question the motives driving me towards a career in public relations. Do I simply desire a comfortable salary? Do I just want to write and use social media as a career? As I examined my drive, I found it delves so much deeper: I aspire to use my public relations skills to make a difference in my community and the professional realm. Specifically, my dedication to non-profit organizations stems from a zeal to see organizations grow and for professionals to thrive with passion for their work. Despite public relations’ history of scrutiny, ultimately PR professionals are responsible for ethical practice and should use their skills to make a difference in the community.

First, let us define the subject at hand: public relations is a management function in which a company or organization builds and maintains relationships with various publics. This definition of PR as a management function is relatively new; now-a-days, the public relations team is represented at the top-tier of business, which is a grand evolution from its previous position.

“Ten years ago the communications team was often the last to know what was going on. It was at the end of the food chain and not properly plugged into the inner workings of the business or the board,” says Stuart Jackson, former communications director at EE. Now that the past days of PR spin are but a memory, the field is climbing the organizational ladder and taking greater responsibility in reputation management activities.

In order to avoid returning to a dark place, public relations professionals need to proactively develop ethical practices. As a service to our communities, ourselves, and to continually bring esteem to the profession, PR teams need to develop values for truth and proper representation of the organizations they are employed by. Though some company priorities may not align with ethical practice, we’re responsible to put our foot down on unethical actions- if your company relationship ends and you’ve developed a reputation as an unethical representative, you carry that weight with you for the rest of your career. We can help shape the overall reputation of the field by meeting clients’ objectives with effectiveness and a respect for ethical representation.

You can start taking professional steps now to shine a light on ethical practice by reading articles on public relations mishaps; challenge yourself to analyze what went wrong, how situations should have been handled, and look for warning signs of where ethics began to be cast aside. Remember these signs for your future career or in any situations you may face at an internship!

By: Brooke LeMunyon

Brooke is a junior mass communications major with advertising and english minors. In addition to PRSSA-UD, she is also a leader in InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and a brother in Alpha Phi Omega. Follow Brooke on Twitter using @brookelemunyon.

Public Speaking: Not Just Another COMM Major Requirement

Talking. We do it all the time (some of us never stop), and yet, it’s a skill undeveloped among most students, even COMM majors. Muddling through does not equal the ability to do something well. Speaking clearly and professionally is crucial in any field, but especially in public relations. Here are a few tips on how to spruce up your speaking:

Stop verbal tics: Get rid of “um” and “like.” Pre-professionals have no excuse to talk like high schoolers. Using such phrases is a bad verbal habit, easy to do and surprisingly hard to control. Make a conscious effort to not use these phrases. Think about what you say while you say it. When you hesitate, pause in your speech. Sometimes, speaking too quickly spirals into a nervous over-usage of verbal fillers. To overcome this, get comfortable with a little bit of silence. It sounds better to take a breath rather than fill the air with more “likes” in an effort to keep a speech or conversation going.

Know your audience: Assume your audience has no idea what you’re talking about, and you’ll usually be right. Just because you understand the details and know what to leave out, doesn’t mean your audience will. Spell out details, including the obvious ones. Even if your audience is familiar with the basics, including these points helps you paint a more comprehensive verbal picture and provide context for the “important” part of your speech.

Be professional: Adopt a professional tone with all audiences. Speaking to a group of students is not the same as speaking to your friends. Use a clear, even tone and act like you’re presenting a business plan to a group of executives. Your casual audiences deserve an understandable presentation just as much as your professional audiences.

Be prepared: Mentally gather a few words for situations where you may be called on to present or provide opinion. If you already have the key ideas in your head, you have the hard part of public speaking mastered. This is the way to learn how to speak on your feet – and those occasions come more often than we expect.

The art of speaking is worth brushing up on. It’s our first impression in an interview, the key factor in client presentations, and a necessary part of teleconferences. It may be tough to improve, but at least there is no shortage of chances to practice.

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By: Maddie Brooks

Maddie is a junior mass communication major with a minor in public health. She is a UD Social Media Ambassador and a member of PRSSA-UD, Lori’s Hands, and InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. Follow her on Twitter, @BlueHenMaddie and @Mbrooksinde.

My trip to PRSSA 2014 National Assembly

Life is a trip, not a destination.”-Fred Cook, Chief Executive Officer, GolinHarris International.

Over the past weekend, I had the great honor in representing PRSSA-UD at PRSSA 2014 National Assembly in Charleston, South Carolina. As a delegate, I voted to elect the new National Committee for 2014-2015. It was more than just casting a vote on a ballot slip. Ultimately, I represented my Chapter at the University of Delaware and kept in mind the attributes and goals our members would like to see in a new National Committee.

Ranging from advocacy to professional development positions, the National Committee truly serves as a resource to all PRSSA Chapters across the country. If our Chapter was faced with an ethical dilemma that required greater attention than available at UD, our executive board should be comfortable enough to reach out the Vice President of Advocacy for advice and additional insight. If our Chapter accomplished an achievement or completed a successful fundraiser, we can directly communicate to the Vice President of Public Relations for online coverage. The students that will soon serve in these positions are passionate about their specific responsibilities and helping Chapters achieve greatness overall.

As Fred Cook said during National Assembly, your life continues to take you to new places and encounters.  Being a part of PRSSA on a national level and in a local Chapter is a trip. With experiences that push you out of your comfort zone, members never know what they will learn next. The knowledge learned from being a PRSSA member fosters real life experiences and professional development in the public relations and communication related fields.

The newly elected National Committee is definitely, ‘in for a trip,’ and PRSSA-UD is looking forward to watching them cruise with success!

By: Natalie Hines

Natalie is a junior mass communication major with minors in advertising and leadership. She has been a member of PRSSA-UD since 2011 and has served two positions on the executive board. She is truly honored to serve as Chapter president of PRSSA-UD next year! Connect with her on Twitter, @NatalieHines1.

Juggling Jobs: A Winter Well Spent

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Winter break: a season of life I usually reserve for rest, relaxation, and binge-watching my favorite TV shows on Netflix. Contrary to my usual plan, this winter brought me the pleasure of working not one, but two communications internships. When I set out on my job search, I would have been satisfied with any job. However, the alignment of the stars and a little persistence in the application process led to these exciting opportunities.

Throughout the week, two of the three workdays I spend in UD’s own Office of Communications and Marketing as the content manager for ‘Blue Hen Says’ social media sites. Though as a student in the digital age social media savviness tends to come naturally to an extent, I knew much less than I originally thought. Being a content manager required hours of research on how to effectively use social media not only for professional use, but more specifically for higher education. As fellow Blue Hens already know, Winter Session usually turn campus into a ghost town. However, my responsibilities lied in showing students the exciting things happening at UD when it’s much less populated. We strategically planned Facebook posts for weeks at a time, coming up with campaigns for exciting events such as the Camelback Mountain Ski Trip. On warmer days (and when I say warmer, I mean above freezing) I was free to explore campus and take photographs for posts: snowy scenery, fundraising for Greek philanthropies such as UDance, and students trying to stay warm!

Throughout the internship, staying updated on any and everything on campus marked the most difficult part of my job. At a large university like UD, finding information takes effort when there are so many details behind each event, achievement, and news story. Furthermore, pushing through the challenges proved a worthy task: feedback from followers showed we were doing something right! Though there’s so much more to social media management than I thought, it was a fun way to break into a part of PR that effectively reaches wide audiences, especially that of my colleagues!

The other three days a week of my winter experience took place at the American Diabetes Association (ADA), a non-profit organization based in Wilmington, Delaware. I never worked in a city before, so this began an exciting, yet somewhat intimidating new adventure. Though I started this internship with some experience in my communications tool belt from a summer job, I knew there was much more to learn. The ADA epitomizes a small work environment: only five of us make up the dynamic team. However, what it lacks in size it makes up for in character. My fundraising and special events manager, a recent graduate herself, immediately took me under her wing to show me the ropes; I accompanied her on meetings with potential event team leaders and administrative volunteers. The passionate and loving staff made every effort to show me the reason for our work: the mission of finding a cure for diabetes and improving the lives of those affected by the epidemic.

My responsibilities revolved primarily around planning and promoting one of our biggest events of the year, Tour De Cure, a cycling event to raise community awareness and involvement, as well as funds for diabetes research and treatment. I learned how to use to create promotional fliers and e-newsletters, which sparked my previously almost non-existent creativity. Non-profit organizations such as the ADA focus on fundraising and donations to fuel their services and features, so as public relations pro in-training, this meant creating and managing relationships with our publics, showing them why the ADA is important and how they could help us make a difference in the community.

The most challenging part of this job comes from the pressures of working under a deadline. In event planning PR, be prepared to work your tail off for several months or more before your event. For our Tour de Cure event in May, we already needed to work out every detail, have a set communications plan with goals in mind to accomplish every work day. Though minimal time proposed a challenge, I find it creates an exciting, motivating work environment. My favorite part of the job stems from the passion my co-workers aroused in me, not only for the cause we support as an organization, but also for my career. Seeing the fruit of my labor and receiving feedback from my team identified some of my strengths and ways I can continue to grow as a professional. I found a work environment in which I feel comfortable and plan to pursue in the future of my career.

By: Brooke Lemunyon

Brooke is a junior mass communications major with advertising and English minors. In addition to PRSSA UD, she is also a leader in InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and a brother in Alpha Phi Omega. Follow Brooke on Twitter using @brookelemunyon.

A Sterling Silver Winternship

Being at a school with a winter break of an excessive 10 weeks seemed like a perfect opportunity to opt out of laziness and take on an internship. I have spent the last 4 years working at a summer camp and was not willing to give that up just yet so I knew getting a jump start on gaining experience through an internship was ideal for me this winter. As a member of PRSSA-UD since my first semester freshmen year, I was not completely lost when beginning my search this past October. I listened to numerous guest speakers, revamped my resume at an informative Skill Slam, expanded my networking skills, and took note of what professionals look for when hiring. Then, after a Skype interview with my first potential employer, they offered me the internship.

Fast forward to the present where I’m in my fifth week interning at Cynthia Gale (CG), a sterling silver jewelry company in New York City. I have been loving the exposure to all aspects of an independently owned and operated small business. My day-to-day duties range from designing a line plan for our most recent collection, setting up an email blast for an upcoming event or sale, to even running around the city with our stylist finding a wardrobe for a photo shoot. During my time at CG, I have become well rehearsed in telemarketing, I have expanded my skills with InDesign, and I have become more aware of the persistent need for staying up to date on all forms of social media for a company like Cynthia Gale. Working with the CG team, including the designer Cynthia, has been a rewarding experience that PRSSA-UD has prepped me for. I feel more familiar with the working world and I am excited to take on my next job or internship where I will gain more knowledge regarding potential future professions.

By: Allie Kory

Allie is a sophomore communication and psychology double major. She is a member of PRSSA-UD and of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. She hopes to pursue a career in the advertising or public relations field.

Reflect on this semester by reading The Semesterly!

We are pleased to share with you the Fall 2013 issue of The Semesterly, PRSSA-UD’s biannual newsletter. Enclosed, you’ll find articles from your fellow members on their experiences with PRSSA this fall. We encourage you to read and reflect on the semester.

Thank you to our newsletter writers and our PR Director, Natalie Hines, for working so hard to put this together!
Read The Semesterly below!

Semesterly2013