Bring in the spring with PRSSA-UD

Fall 2011 Accomplishments

Last semester, PRSSA-UD increased meeting attendance by 30%, gave away more than $3,500 in scholarships, kicked off our mentor-mentee program which grew by 700%, and much more!

This semester, we’re looking forward to doing so much more including bringing the infamous Intern Queen to campus, hosting a variety of Skill Slam activities and speakers, going on agency tours, and bringing back our PRSSA Challenge event! So, pull out those calendars and save the dates for these events.

Want to see a program that’s not listed here? Let us know! Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, or email Chapter president Abby Stollar at astollar@udel.edu.

February

–       Wednesday, Feb. 8: Spring Activities Night

–       Monday, Feb. 13: First General Meeting, 5:30 p.m.

  • New to PRSSA? Learn more about us! Returning member? Get connected this semester and hear from a top PR professional!

–       Monday, Feb. 20: Intern Queen event, 8:00 p.m., Trabant Theatre

  • Lauren Berger, the “Intern Queen,” is a nationally-recognized author and career expert who had fifteen internships while in college. Come hear the CEO of “Intern Queen” reveal her secrets of finding and succeeding in the perfect internship.

–       Week of Feb. 20: PRSSA dues due to PRSSA National

–       Tuesday, Feb. 28: Skill Slam, 6:30 p.m.

March

–       Friday, March 2: Agency tour

–       Monday, March 5: General Meeting, 5:30 p.m.

–       Tuesday, March 13: Skill Slam, 6:30 p.m.

–       March 15-17: National Assembly

–       Tuesday, March 20: PPRA’s Career 101 event (7 p.m. – 9 p.m.)

  • Last semester, Jessica Lawlor visited PRSSA-UD. Lawlor says PPRA’s Career 101 was one of the most beneficial events she attended as a student, as she met and networked with top industry pros. PRSSA-UD will provide transportation to this Philadelphia event.

–       March 23-April 1: Spring Break

April

–       Monday, April 2: General Meeting, 5:30 p.m.

–       Tuesday, April 10: Skill Slam, 6:30 p.m.

–       Monday, April 16: General Meeting, 5:30 p.m.

–       Tuesday, April 24: PRSSA Challenge, 7 p.m.-10:30 p.m.

  • Last year, we hosted the “PRSSA Challenge,” a one-hour strategic planning competition, and it was a huge success! (Just check out the national recognition we received in PRSSA National’s Chapter News!) Members of all ages and experience levels can participate and will leave with a polished portfolio piece.

–       Monday, April 30: Spring Networking Event

  • At our premier networking event, meet PR professionals in a one-on-one setting at Klondike Kate’s!

May

–       Tuesday, May 1: Final Skill Slam, 6:30 p.m.

–       Tuesday, May 15: PRSSA Study Social, 6-9 p.m.

  • Free pizza, fruit, drinks, snacks, AND study space? We’re bringing back our PRSSA Study Social to help you prepare for your finals!

Additional

–       PRSA Delaware events

  • Keep a lookout for opportunities to attend a PRSA Delaware event!

Just Five Minutes

Networking. A word, the word, heard every day in the job world. At a time when employment rates soar, the worst position to be in is ours—recent college graduates or those headed that way. If our parents are being let go from jobs they’ve held for over thirty years, how are we expected to land our dream jobs? Or any minimum-wage, ‘pay the bills and get by’ type of job, for that matter? Networking. It’s about the only key to success at this point.

We’re told to get good grades, volunteer our time, and give back to the community. We’ve been told this throughout high school and now the same is being reiterated throughout college. These are all seemingly important; but if everyone does this, then the only way one would stand apart from another is by who he or she knows and how they can help them get to that next level. Now don’t fret—if someone in a high profile job doesn’t come to mind immediately, it doesn’t mean you are all out of luck, because just two weeks ago, that person was me.

I traveled to Washington, D.C. a few weeks ago with fellow girls from our Chapter to visit Ketchum PR, tour the Capitol, and meet with Senator Tom Carper and his Public Relations staff. As always, after meeting professionals, we were handed business cards of almost all and were told to “Keep in touch”.

Because I am interested in the governmental aspect of PR, I decided these professionals would be especially important to follow up with. I sent out e-mails to all those we had met that day. I expressed my gratitude for taking time out of their days to meet with our group, and for all the advice they had shared. I also asked them to keep in touch in the future for any potential job opportunities. Five minutes is all it took.

Not expecting a response out of any of these professionals, I simply felt good about sending a quick thank you note their way. Within two days, I had received responses from all three women. All saying thank you for the follow-up message, thank you for visiting us, and most of all, thank you for keeping us in mind when considering future employment opportunities.

Perhaps the best e-mail was my third, however. Emily, Carper’s Communications Director, asked me what I specifically meant by “future opportunities”—how soon is the future, she asked.

I told her about UD’s winter session and that I would be back at home in Virginia for those six weeks. She offered me the opportunity to intern in their DC offices as a Public Relations intern.

I didn’t know anyone working on Capitol Hill. I had no crazy, cool connection that would get me to the top fast. I simply sent out an email and asked for an opportunity. That opportunity was granted and for that, I am unbelievably thrilled as well as gracious to PRSSA for making it a possibility. Networking is what got me to my dream internship, and it can do the same for you. An internship, job, career—they’re all out there; so what are you waiting for?

Written by Mollie Berner.

Ketchum Washington D.C. Field Trip Recap

My older sister warned me that when you begin making friends at college, besides asking what your name is, they initially ask what your major is.  My reply?  A Communication Interest major.  About 8 out of 10 times people stare at me with a blank face and either asks what is that or what can you do with that major in life.  Two extremely tough questions for freshmen to answer.  Fortunately after joining PRSSA, engaging in their activities and listening to speakers, I began to realize that public relations is an excellent career path for Communication majors. But what exactly is PR?  It’s not necessarily what PR is, but more of what PR can be.  PRSSA’s recent trip to Washington D.C. told me exactly that.

Entering Ketchum PR Agency in Washington D.C., we were given the opportunity to sit down with three experienced and knowledgeable individuals who currently work at Ketchum—and enjoy what they do every single day.  Chartése Day first discussed the health care side of PR and works with companies such as AstraZeneca.  Alli Sherman talked about how she formed her interest in Ketchum’s Consumer Health branch, and she works with brands such as Clorox.  Both stressed how important social media is, and how they are currently trying to “integrate” all forms of social media as one.  Some key parts of any type of PR are protecting the brand, preparing the client for potential issues, and being proactive and educated when new clients approach the agency.

Nick Ragone, the Managing Director of Ketchum’s D.C. Office also advised us as students looking for a career in PR to create a positive “online footprint.”

  1. Have a professional look to your Facebook page
  2. Make sure your resume contains links to your blogs, sites, etc.
  3. Have Twitter followers who reflect who you are
  4.  Publish as much as you can and make yourself known online

The day continued, and we had the chance to sit down with Senator Carper and his Communication staff including Emily Spain and Ian Koski. It was truly an honor to meet Senator Carper and learn from his advice.   He left us with four key pieces of advice.

  1. Do what is right
  2. Treat others as you want to be treated
  3. Focus on excellence and achievement
  4. Never give up

I believe that these wise words stuck with each and every one of us.  Emily and Ian talked to us about what their agendas consist of: updating web sites, press release, meet & greets, conferences, and, of course, social media.  They brainstorm new ideas and ways to incorporate social media into their daily work while continually adhering to government ethics rules. They talked about the importance of establishing good relationships with the press and local newspapers and how they go about getting their latest news out to the public.

Overall, the day was an amazing opportunity that has helped me answer the question of what PR can be.

Written by Natalie Hines.

“Night with the Pros": Demystifying a Career Path

For a moment, if reading this from the perspective of an upper classman, revisit your freshman year and envision some of the anxieties it is possible you felt as an inexperienced freshman in terms of choosing the “right” major, “right” classes, and dreaming of a career that was both attainable and rewarding. According to Dr. Fritz Grupe, founder of MyMajors.com, “it is little wonder 50 percent of [college students] who do declare a major, change majors — with many doing so two and three times during their college years” (as qtd. in Ronan). If you are currently a freshman, like I am, then certainly these concerns have occurred to you once or twice in the last few months.

On that note, having only experienced what feels like a brief moment of college life over these couple of months, perhaps the greatest piece of advice I’ve received thus far came from a professor who encouraged his undergraduate students to seek meaning and knowledge in the courses they took, not to choose classes destined to land them a job and a sizeable salary. As much as I intend to avoid “preaching to the choir” (I am clearly not as skilled at avoiding using clichéd phrases in certain blog posts), I think it is fair to say that many of you involved in the Public Relations Student Society of America here at UD, and in the public relations concentration in general understand that it will take time and hard work before landing a so-called “dream job”.

This concept is not meant to seem cynical, but to accredit all of us getting involved in PR, we won’t mind beginning with an entry-level job that may not be extremely lucrative if it means we get a shot at working in a field that makes us happy.

I say this because, until recently, I was worried that I would not figure out what it is I wanted to do in terms of a career. Then, after getting involved with PRSSA-UD, I found what feels to me like a family of other students who share the same goals and interests. The organization has been such a huge help for me in terms of discovering what the field of public relations is all about, and has been very comforting in giving me the sense that my future holds a space for a potential career in this field.

More specifically, on November 10, PRSSA-UD hosted “Night with the Pros”, an event that has really encouraged me to join the field. Three very honest and down-to-earth speakers, Katie Wilson, Lisa Quinn, and Alex Schnabel, gave students a fantastic insight into the world of PR and what their jobs entail on a regular basis. Their generosity in sharing personal stories and advice, as well as their willingness to speak with us afterwards, was really gratifying, and I feel lucky to have heard them speak. Listening to these young professionals helped me begin to understand that the field of PR travels in many different directions, and that it is possible to hone in on a specific skill or interest and still find the area of PR that makes sense to you. All of the speakers acknowledged, as well, that your first job may not be your permanent one, but it is a great way to get “a foot in the door”. Ultimately, I learned from them that your job should make you happy, and should be something you love to do. Financial stress may be present early on, but with enough hard work and dedication, the job of your dreams will find its way to you.

Article Cited: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10154383/ns/business-personal_finance/t/college-freshmen-face-major-dilemma/

Written by Sara Penchina.

Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous: #Twitter style

Who is the one celebrity that you love and would do anything to meet? We all have one. Unfortunately, you’ll likely never get to meet your dream celeb in person, but Twitter is quickly helping you connect to your favorite stars.

When you follow these celebrities, you get a glimpse into their life — what they are doing every day, what new TV shows, movies, or events they have coming up, and just advice they have learned over the years. Following celebrities on Twitter can be a gratifying feeling for those of us who would love to meet a celebrity but know that it is a one in a million chance. Knowing that you are getting a play-by-play of your favorite celebrity’s day is the closest thing to meeting the real live person. It makes you feel like you do have some connection with them because you are getting constant updates from the celebrities themselves. There is also the occasional time that you will get a real interaction with a celebrity if they answer your tweets.

Some celebs announce big news to their Twitter followers before even announcing it to the press. For example, when Kim Kardashian got engaged this year, she told her followers first. Kim tweeted, “It’s true… Kris and I are engaged!” Her sister Khloe Kardashian tweeted, “I can’t believe I was able to keep this a secret but now I can scream all I want about it! Kim is engaged!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! OMG!!!!!!!!!!”

Twitter also allows for other celebrities to react to celebrity news. This summer Beyonce announced that she and Jay-Z were expecting their first child together. Once the news broke, the Twitter community reacted to it. Beyonce’s former Destinys Child bandmate Michelle Williams tweeted “OVERJOYED! a friend never tells! :).” Chris Brown tweeted “Congrats on the baby B and Jay.” Usher tweeted, “Woke up to the news that BEYONCE IS PREGNANT! So happy for her!!! Congrats B and Jay-Z!!!” and Kim Kardashian tweeted “I’m sooo happy for Beyonce & Jay Z!!!! Be’s preggo!!! Congrats!”

While Twitter allows us to hear from celebrities about their lives and exciting news they have to share, it also allows for us to hear about their reaction to sad events that go on. When Amy Winehouse passed away suddenly this year the Twitter community reacted to her death by sharing comments about her incredible talent that the world lost. Demi Lovato tweeted, “Amy Winehouse.. So sad. Unfortunately the world lost an incredibly talented woman to such a powerful disease… addiction. #RIP” Jessica Alba tweeted, “So sad about Amy Winehouse -she was so talented. Really tragic.” Demi Moore tweeted, “Truly sad news about Amy Winehouse. My heart goes out to her family. May her troubled soul find peace.” Rihanna tweeted, “Dear God have mercy!!! I am SICK about this right now! #DearAmy”

In true para-social interaction fashion, Twitter allows us to feel as though we’re part of celebrity’s life. Who needs E! news when you have Twitter?!

Written by Caroline Davis.

A Blog on Blogging

Just a few months ago, if someone would have recommended I start reading a certain blog or perhaps start my own, I would have thought they were crazy. ‘Blog’ in my mind corresponded the days of Xanga when my friends and I would write endless posts about everything that happened during our day and thought that everyone was interested in reading what was essentially a public journal. I did not want to go back to that. However, over the summer I was exposed to a whole new world of blogging that forever changed my idea of all that the blog world has to offer.

It all started with a little free time that the summer offered and my newfound interest in health and fitness. With some exploration, I came across the world of healthy living bloggers; people dedicated to living a healthy life of exercise and good nutrition (with the occasional, necessary indulgence) and publishing daily posts on how they keep up with such a lifestyle. I immediately became hooked on several of these blogs and soon enough had a Google Reader filled with new exercises, healthy food and workout inspiration! But in just a short time, my Google Reader began to fill up with all different genres of the blogs available on the Internet.

My discovery of healthy living blogs led to the realization that a vast collection of categories exists in the blog world. For basically any interest whether it be books, television, fashion or even public relations, there is a blog out there for you. This not only means that you can find a blog based on any of your interests, but you can also start your very own blog about whatever you wish! Any capable and interested writer has they ability to create a blog literally at their fingertips. Moreover, some of the greatest information I’ve heard from PR professionals is that “good writing is hard to find these days.” A blog can not only be a new pastime, but also serve as an easily accessible writing portfolio to potential internships or employers. As students looking to pursue a career in public relations or communications in general, we are always looking for ways to network ourselves and find a way to stand out.

PRSSA E-board President, Abby Stollar and Meetings Director, Janie Sikes set great examples with their personal blogs. Abby’s PR and Political Commentary and Janie’s i carry it in my heart have been more than just a hobby – their blogs have brought them both many opportunities. Abby admits that blogging is one of the best things she has ever done professionally and has opened the door to many other writing opportunities such as guest posts for other blogs including the Barnes and Noble National blog! Abby and Janie both agree that a blog is also a great place to provide your resume and a portfolio of other relevant and skilled writing samples. According to Janie, having a blog helps you hone your writing skills. The only way to improve is to practice and a blog is a perfect way to do just that. Blogging is also another form of social media, a hot commodity in public relations. Blogging makes you more accessible and allows others to network with you. With an ‘about me’ section, others can easily contact you.

I personally have not yet started my blog but it has been something on my mind lately. While I plan on creating a blog, I’m trying to figure out the voice I plan to express and what I want the focus at the heart of my blog to be. So get out there, explore the blog world, and find your blogger voice too!

Happy blogging!

Written by Jamie Lawlor.

What is Public Relations?

Before the fall semester began, I had absolutely no idea what the term Public Relations meant. The only time I had ever even heard the phrase was watching “Sex and the City.” Carrie Bradshaw’s best friend, Samantha Jones, was the CEO of her own PR firm. That was the extent of my knowledge. I had never really thought about that career or what that job would entail. To be perfectly honest, I only enrolled in COMM309: Intro to Public Relations, because another class that I wanted to get into was full. But when Professor Bartoo kindly explained to us on the first day of class what it actually meant to be in the PR field, I began to realize that even though I didn’t know it, I have been surrounded by PR my whole life. An advertisement on a billboard that I pass while driving, logging onto the University of Delaware website and seeing blurbs about Homecoming, or even a brochure that’s handed to me while walking to class, public relations is everywhere. However, I still had no idea what an actual professional in the PR field would do in a typical day. If you asked me to picture a PR consultant in their natural state, I could not have done so. One of the definitions of PR given to us from our textbook is from Glen T. Cameron, of the Missouri School of Journalism. Cameron defines the field as the “strategic management of competition and conflict for the benefit of one’s own organization-and when possible- also for the mutual benefit of the organization and its stakeholders or publics.” Again, still clueless.  It wasn’t until we had the assignment to interview an actual professional who works in PR that I finally began to see what working in PR meant.

The assignment was to find someone that works in PR, contact them on the phone, set up an interview which will take place in their office, and write a report about it. My group contacted and interviewed Doug Eppler, the Public Relations Manager for Tipton Communications in Newark, Delaware. Before going on the interview, I researched Mr. Eppler to find out more information about his background and his key responsibilities for Tipton Communications. I was shocked to find that although Doug had a good amount of experience in communication related fields, a large part of his background involved working in theatres and the tourism industry. How do theatres and tours prepare you for working at a PR firm? Well, surprisingly they relate quite a bit. Doug’s Linkedin page describes his tasks as the Tourism Development Specialist for Winterthur Museum & Country Estate. Some of Doug’s responsibilities were, “marketing the world-class, world-renowned museum to Motorcoach tour operators, group travel leaders, private group trip planners, social clubs, etc., serving as liaison to state and county tour and travel offices and coordinating group travel advertising,” to name a few.  In the actual interview, Doug explained how his background as the Toursim Development Specialist, prepared him for his current job at Tipton Communications. He may not have to give tours anymore, but similarly to how he had to get tourists interested in the estate, he now has to get target audiences interested in his client’s product or service, whatever they may be.

From both my research and interview I started to see that there is no uniform public relations consultant. Just like PR can be found in various ways around my world, PR officials can be found in different places and different environments. There’s political PR, sports PR, television PR, and more. It’s the diversity of this industry that has kept me extremely interested in possibly pursuing a career in this field.

Written by Emily Kitching.

           

Die-Hard Fan

As a red-blooded American male, sports have become an integral part of my life.  While this may just sound like every other guy you know who loves to watch sports, I assure you I am different.  So, when the NFL officially ended it’s 130 day lockout on July 25th, I couldn’t have been happier.  The condensed offseason meant there would be a flurry of players switching teams in an unprecedented period of time.  Free agency would be cut down to two weeks, and the pre-season would start with minimal practices taking place.  This meant, as a football junkie, I would be following what would normally be a three month period of offseason activity in the span of two or three weeks.  My mind was spinning.  How would I keep up with all of these players changing teams, and how would I be able to fully comprehend the enormity of this lockout ending.  The answer? Twitter.

I had been a casual Twitter user up until the lockout ended, and it’s safe to say that I am no longer using the site casually.  What Twitter enabled me to do was to follow all of the football “insiders” from various news outlets who could provide me with instantaneous updates from the rumor mill about who was headed where, when, and for how much money.  While the casual football fans were stuck watching ESPN hoping a news flash would jump across the screen, I was getting those news flashes hours in advance from credible, plugged-in sources.  This is when I realized that being on Twitter is like having your very own news network, catered exactly to your interests.  However, Twitter has done more than provide me with news of the players on my fantasy football team.  Twitter has kept me culturally informed more than anything else.  I used to find myself on the outside looking in when it came to politics, economics, and current events, but not any longer.

Don’t let people fool you. Twitter is not just a forum to vent or a place for people to post their sporadic thoughts.  Twitter eliminates the problem of the gatekeeper in the media by giving us unbounded access to any and all information we choose, with the simple click of a button.  Recently I have found myself following developments of the “Occupy Wall Street” protests on Twitter from different newspaper columnists around the country, as well as following political debates from the viewpoint of several different media outlets.  Simply put, Twitter is a great way to immerse yourself in the fast paced world we live in today, as it organizes the entire day’s events for you on one convenient feed. The beauty of Twitter is that by joining you become a member of the media, reporting news to anyone willing to listen.

Written by Alec Nathan.

5 Differences Between Chinese and American Social Media Sites

QQ, RenRen and Micro Blog (also known as “Weibo”) are some of my favorite Chinese social media sites, although Americans have probably never heard of them.  They are closely tied to daily social networking for Chinese younger generations.  Instead of only visiting those sites in my comfort zone when I came to America, I decided to experience American social networking as well.  However, after using Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms. a question popped into my mind: Why do most Chinese social networking sites look so similar to each other while American sites are so different?  Here are a few reasons why:

1. Different Needs and Purposes: Because Chinese social media is booming but still not very advanced compared to American social media, Chinese online users, especially the younger generation, tend to seek out content mostly about entertainment.  Their ultimate purpose is simply to gain happiness and joy through these social networking sites.  Also, there are a variety of interesting applications listed in those sites, such as video games, radio stations, online live shows, and an online store for decorating their own blogs or Facebook pages.  There is even a system of “internet money” that users can buy virtual presents and gifts with, and people even have the ability to express their feelings with moving emoticons.  However, the relatively simple needs might not be satisfying to American online users who tend to absorb different types of content so as to achieve or meet their goals.  Examples of this include online job or internship searching and academic discussions.

2. “All in One” vs. “One-on-One”: This might be the most obvious difference between the two country’s social media sites.  The fundamental reason why QQ, Weibo, and RenRen look alike is because all of them contain similar functions and applications.  This means that even if you only open and constantly use one site, you still can be offered the same level of service such as watching video and listening to the radio stations. This is much more convenient.  Unlike the structure of Chinese sites, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Linked-In have distinct characteristics, which appeal to certain types of people with certain needs.

3.Target Audience Varies Depending on Each Site: The ‘all in one’ model targets general online viewers, regardless of if their age or education level.  Everyone can obtain their own satisfaction through social media, whereas, the ‘one-on-one’ model gathers specific ranges of people sharing similar levels of social values and knowledge altogether in order to make progress and act in their best interest.

4. Distinct Mindsets Reflected by Cultures: One thing that RenRen has but Facebook does not, is a section showing the amount of online viewers that visit your personal page. Most individuals have a strong desire to share more interesting content to help increase the number of visitor hits. This is only more exemplified by the level system on RenRen, which teaches that with more friends a person’s “level” may increase, and those who are newcomers to the site have a much lower level of popularity.  The more attractive your webpage looks like, the higher amount of “fans” you will get, which is a common phenomenon showing how important Chinese people care about how others think about them more than caring about themselves.  Although this is a universal aspect to modern culture, it may be stronger in Chinese culture, due to the sense of collectivism as opposed to individualism, where every single person goes their own way without paying too much attention on other peoples’ expectations.

5. The Extent of Awareness of Using Social Media to Brand Yourself: After participating in the PRSSA-UD Twitter Chat Skill Slam last week, I was surprised by the amount of students eager to become PR pros in the future and that used Twitter to look for internship opportunities.  I was also truly inspired by how sophisticated they present themselves by writing blogs including their own portfolio and resume. In general, Chinese college students are not aware how they can use social networks to build their careers while American students really take advantage of these online tools.

Written by Kathy Hu.

Below are my personal web pages from each Chinese social media site that I mentioned above.  Get a sense of how Chinese popular social media sites look and how Chinese and American social media differ, so that they can learn from each other:

Renren: http://www.renren.com/profile.do?id=277792718
Weibo: http://www.weibo.com/2163593131/profile?topnav=1

My Earthquake Encounter with Twitter

The advent of Twitter never appealed to me, as I have always been a complete addict of Facebook. To be honest, it was (wrongly) advertised to me as “just Facebook statuses” and “pretty much pointless.” I believed them. I truly did not need a Twitter to be interconnected with my friends. But then a little thing called peer pressure happened. Because my friends all started getting Twitter accounts, naturally I did not want to feel left out. I wanted to be trendy and up-to-date on all the latest fads and fashions of my generation. I caved in and made an account, but I was still not convinced that Twitter had any sort of meaning for my social life. I was so unenthusiastic about it at first that my first tweet was a simple phrase: “first tweet.” Original, right?

BOOM. The East Coast Earthquake of 2011 hits on August 23rd. What was a scary and intense moment for most people turned out to be a very calm moment for me. Two of my co-workers and I were outside, running a few errands for work. Suddenly, my sister texted me saying there was an earthquake in State College, PA. I had no idea what she was talking about. We got back to the office, and heard the stories from our other colleagues who had felt it. No one had heard much news about the scope of the quake.

I decided to log onto Twitter to see what my friends’ experiences had been. For some reason, I noticed something that I hadn’t really paid much attention to on Twitter before the quake. In the “Trends” section on the lower right side of my account, “earthquake”, “a 5.9”, and “Virginia” were showing up. For anyone who does not have a Twitter account, trends are essentially the most common phrases or words that Twitter users are posting in their tweets. Twitter users can customize their accounts to show worldwide trends, or just the trends in one specific country. When a Twitter user clicks on a trend, it brings up a page that identifies all of the people using that phrase in their tweets (granted their tweets are not protected). I clicked on “#earthquake”, and found that a variety of news organizations had used this hashtag in their posting. In that same posting, many of them also included an article detailing what exactly happened.

And that is how I got all of the information of what happened. I learned where the epicenter was, how large the earthquake was, the damages (minimal, of course), and the area which it affected. This was how I got my news.  Just through a scanning of the Trends on a social media site. I was amazed at the fact that I could learn so much about what happened without even having to turn on the TV.

Identifying Public Opinion and Key Publics

As a public relations student and future professional, I find the implications of the “Trends” feature on Twitter astounding.  For one thing, it can easily help a PR professional identify public opinion. PR professionals need to be able to identify public opinion on certain issues to better help their organization or client adapt to the public. The “Trends” feature allows PR professionals to see what people are talking about in a quick and efficient manner. This can be very beneficial to a PR professional because by clicking on the trend, they can see who is tweeting about an issue. The tweets that show up may disclose information that includes an opinion about the issue at hand. This can identify public opinion, or can help you to indentify a specific public that your organization wants you to target (based on their thoughts that have been tweeted). The beauty of the “Trends” feature is that although it identifies a commonly used phrase or word, there could be a multitude of different opinions surrounding the issue that the trend refers to. A PR professional could find a variety of different opinions regarding a certain issue by scanning just one trend page.

Opinion Leaders

People who have specific opinions on an issue may serve as opinion leaders, who will, in turn, influence their followers. Since many of the followers of the opinion leaders may not have Twitter accounts, it is crucial that a PR professional reach out to the opinion leaders. Once this is done, the opinion leaders can influence their followers. Now, this is not to say that all the followers will not have Twitters; in this case, PR professionals can identify specific followers and reach out to them directly. This is also not to say that every opinion leader has a Twitter account. But many people who post strong opinions about an issue will want their followers on Twitter to see this and be influenced by the content.

What started out as a pretty pointless forum that I used to post things about my day-to-day life became a tool that I will use as professional in the public relations field. The use of social media in the workplace environment is very interesting and becoming very important. Even though I didn’t feel the earthquake itself, I was rocked by the amazing qualities and usefulness that Twitter has for the professional world.

Written by Bobby Schrader.