Social Media: Channel for Free Speech or the Catalyst to Political Unrest?

We’re all aware of the political unrest presently unfolding in the Middle East. Most of us, connected and worldly university students that we are, probably found out through our constant and beloved social media sites. It’s how we share ideas, current events,and now political operations around the world, and why wouldn’t we tune in to hear the latest news?

Social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Youtube are facing issues regarding their policies of sharing and political neutrality. These sites are increasingly being used by activists and pro-democracy forces, especially in the Middle East and North Africa. Faced with posts urging rebel action, videos of rallies and military practices, groups uniting anti-government communities, and photos of civil unrest and destruction, social media is being forced to elucidate the limits of the fuzzy gray area between free speech and, well, TMI. Unless calls to violence or violent footage’s involved (which are taken down by the sites because they are against policy), socialmedia conversation remains in shades of gray.

Current turmoil has put social media companies in a delicate position: how to
accommodate the growing use of social media for political purposes while remaining neutral and maintaining the policies that granted their services international popularity. The rules are not so black and white, especially when facing these issues on a global scale.

Can a social network provide neutral service when navigating the treacherous territory of international politics? How much information is too much to share on social media, and who owns it? Who has the right to determine speech limits when the channel crosses the borders of time and space? When the issues discussed have the potential to overthrow governments?

Stay logged on and we’ll find out.

Written by Gabriella Chiera.

What’s in a Challenge?

A challenge is always meant to test your mettle as an individual; consequently, not everyone looks for one. The PRSSA Challenge was designed to be just that – a true challenge for all of the participants involved. Essentially, the name of the game meant that we were to compete against one another, and our desire to be a part of the winning team would drive us to work harder and think more quickly than the other teams. In the end, our efforts to create the most effective PR strategy would force us to hone our skills.

As a new member of the University of Delaware’s PRSSA chapter, as well as a recent transfer student, I jumped at the chance to register for the Challenge, which was “a one-hour strategic communication campaign planning competition” to be held on March 14. Even so, I must admit that I was a bit intimidated as the evening commenced. Not only was I well aware that I’m still not technically in the major, but I also have yet to even take a Public Relations course–how was I to help my team build a solid PR proposal?

Of course, I had very little time to ponder my question any further, as we were promptly given our task. For the evening’s competition, we were asked to create a plan that would increase the membership of ONE: University of Delaware Chapter. The ONE Chapter at UD helps to build Bono’s international awareness campaign about poverty and disease in Africa. Our clients shared their mission and encouraged us to be creative. Within the hour, we brainstormed ideas, further researched our client, and wrote a plan; after submitting our plans, we presented our ideas to the panel of professional judges, as well as ONE’s President Conor Leary.

Through our efforts to construct a PR strategy, I learned a lot from my own teammates–Kayley Conti, Lauren Rutkowski, and Stephanie Wight; however, I also gained new insights through the other teams’ proposals, too. While our plans for ONE had common elements, it was interesting to hear each team’s proposals. Through the challenge, I not only learned about public relations strategy, but I also became better acquainted with other members of our chapter. Ultimately, for me it was time very well spent, and I look forward to seeing what other things PRSSA has in store for me–I know still have a lot to learn and am eager to do so!

Written by Janie Sikes.

Charlie Sheen—A PR Nightmare, or “Winning” Record Holder?

For the past few weeks, Charlie Sheen has been a PR professional’s worst nightmare.  Sheen has pretty much taken over the task of managing his image, even making this comment about his publicist of over seven years, Stan Rosenfeld:

“I respect Stan, he was doing the best he could … but … I probably would have come up with something better.” (The Australian)

Ouch.  Can you blame Rosenfeld for resigning after that?  With Sheen’s lifestyle including regular violence, drug abuse, and prostitutes, Rosenfeld definitely was never at a loss for things to do.

But on the bright side for us PR pre-professionals, celebrity “meltdowns” can be a great way to learn.  Sheen’s debacle can teach us a lot not only about crisis management, but also social media!  Sheen’s debut on Twitter set a Guinness World Record for reaching one million followers in just over twenty-five hours! In addition, other Twitter profiles (@Sheentranslator) as well as web sites (livethesheendream.com) dedicated to Sheen’s personality are going viral just as quickly.

Sheen seems to be getting the hang of social media quite quickly, creating hashtags for his most recent catchphrases, sending #tigerblood, #winning, and #planbetter to the top of the trending lists.  He has also apparently grasped the concept of tweeting pictures, such as his first post on Twitter showing a picture of him with one of his “goddesses”.  Outside of Twitter, he has also utilized Ustream.com to air his live streaming show, Sheen’s Korner, which led to Sheen announcing a tour called My Violent Torpedo of Truth/Defeat is Not an Option.

Sheen seems to be using social media so effectively (in his own way) that PR professionals are abuzz wondering if he’ll actually emerge from this whole debacle still “winning”.  Jerome Cleary says, about Sheen’s firing from Two and a Half Men, “I do not think it adds to the damage because the public obviously loves it…now the door is white open for either reality TV or another TV show…” (AFP)  Peter Shankman went as far as to wonder if this whole thing is just a PR stunt (AOL News).  While that may seem a bit extreme, Charlie Sheen definitely makes you wonder once again, is there such a thing as bad publicity?

Sources:

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/charlie-sheens-public-relations-agent-quits-amid-tv-rants/story-e6frg6so-1226014852991

http://www.aolnews.com/2011/03/04/is-charlie-sheens-world-record-setting-twitter-presence-an-elab/

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5g0dTPFQTbT-GHTicUyTz0ePtlgwQ?docId=CNG.d30777a4857e4804acfba9058a4da4df.81

Written by Brittany Berger. 

The 21st Century ‘App Boom’: Beneficial to Whom?

Need to find a fancy restaurant for that anniversary you forgot? There’s an app for that. Need a flashlight to find your apartment key that you dropped? There’s an app for that. Lacking a cowbell for you town’s major football game? There’s an app for that. Those five words have only recently begun resonating in the minds of tech-savvy consumers with the advance of smart phones and tablet computers.  This rise has not only led to a huge demand for innovative applications and competition, but companies have also used this to their advantage as a new way for consumers to access their products. Do these applications really benefit companies or are they attempting to jump on the bandwagon without checking to see what they are getting into?

With new tablet computers such as the Dell Streak 7 and the Motorola Xoom coming out to compete with the iPad, many companies are acknowledging that they need to jump into gear. Mobile computers (smartphones included) are the new PCs/Macs and no one wants to be left out of this generation. Corporations are utilizing this rapid rise in mobile usage through applications and mobile web-sites. Applications not only work as a reverse marketing strategy to get the consumers to come to them rather than them shoving ads in the virtual faces of customers, but they also provide an experience for the consumer rather than simply information. Stores such as Target and Express have broken into the app industry with “one touch shopping” by providing customers with the option of mobile applications rather than mobile websites, or in other words – experience over information. Disney has combined the best of both worlds into their app for Verizon smartphones. Although it is expensive, $9.99 for 6 months, it provides all wait times for rides, restaurants and FASTPASS tickets; maps are given, and you can even create a schedule for yourself of what shows you want to see. Leave it to Disney to create the world’s best application much like they created our childhoods.

According to the New York Times, within the next four years there is expected to be a rise of approximately $24,000,000,000 in app revenue. Clearly it is essential for businesses to jump on this bandwagon, headfirst with a blindfold even because this is the new generation – the mobile generation, the app generation. Are you on the bandwagon yet? If not, don’t worry. Take your time and research your smartphones and tablet computers before you buy, because this trend isn’t going anywhere. Need a place to research? There’s an app for that.

Written by Chelsey Rodowicz.

PRSSA Challenge!

Ready to put your knowledge of public relations to the test? Join us for the first-ever PRSSA Challenge, on Monday, March 14, in Gore 302 at 7 p.m. Registration is free, but space is limited, so sign up here as soon as possible! Registration ends Friday, March 4.

Participants will be broken up into teams of five to construct a strategic communications campaign for a new organization on campus, ONE: University of Delaware Chapter. Participants will be given the background information necessary to creating a comprehensive campaign plan.

The PRSSA Challenge will provide the opportunity for our participants to share their PR skills with fellow peers, as well as acquire new skills as they compete to create the best presentation for a real life organization. Presentations will be shown to a panel of judges consisting of respected PR professionals, including our Chapter’s professional adviser Jeffrey Jackson and Galanaugh & Company’s Karen Galanaugh. Participants will each receive a certificate of completion, and winners will receive individual prizes and their names included in a press release about the activity to PRSSA National.

For more information about the PRSSA Challenge, please visit our Facebook event page.

The PRSA Delaware Media Experience

Picture completing a project under the close supervision of a boss. Now, I want you to imagine completing this same project under the close supervision of 45 bosses. This was how I felt at my first PRSA Delaware meeting when I was told to speak in front of the 45 PR professionals at this week’s meeting. Although I felt nervous speaking in front of public relations practitioners, I successfully introduced myself. Introducing myself to all of these potential employers was just one of the many opportunities I had at the PRSA Delaware meeting!

The panel of Delaware media gurus facilitated a discussion on familiar topics including what a journalist, or gatekeeper, looks for in a press release to an overview of Delaware’s news trends today. The guest speakers representing broadcast and print media emphasized newsworthiness in a media release. Submitting a media release surrounding the topic of fifty layoffs would not be sufficient, but if the article focused on the economy and job layoffs regionally, then the media release presents much more newsworthy material.
The importance of social media, rather than just traditional media, was also discussed. Some PRSA members were scurrying by activating multiple twitter accounts while others were preparing podcasts, and their actions showed me the true importance of social media among public relations practitioners.

Written by Alex Albanese.

To the Internship and Beyond: Networking as a Student Intern

Over the past summer and for a short period during winter break, I had the amazing opportunity to intern for the corporate communications department of a leading global hospitality company. I was blessed with experience, opportunity, and most prominently, a fit of anxiety. Upon finishing the internship, my head reeled with doubt: what if I never get another internship? Is one enough? What if they forget about me when I leave and no one ever hires me again?

In an effort to reassure myself, I’ve become a networking aficionado. I’m convinced that networking is half the battle when it comes to finding a job—especially in a public relations or communications field. I’ve come up with a few networking tips that have helped me keep in touch with coworkers and classmates, communicate with professionals, and even score the ever-elusive next internship.

Make your presence known, inside and out:

Throughout the duration of my internship, I worked to make myself visible. With the help of my boss and her team, I was permitted to sit in on meetings, write for both internal and external forums, and submit my own work to upper-level associates. By attending meetings with other associates or external vendors, I was able to introduce myself to a variety of people who work for a variety of fields. It helps that they were also able to recognize my name from the various articles, blogs and announcements that I wrote and submitted to supervisors who became familiar with my work.

In hindsight, I can see that such personal networking can be accredited to the team I work with, who put me on assignments that required me to contact many people throughout the company, causing me to be proactive in getting my name heard!

Give a little of yourself away:

One enormous recommendation I have for networking through your internship is the traditional business card.  Today, business cards may seem trite when compared to our social media networking, technology 2.0 habits of communicating our information, but they can actually be quite useful. You can order them online (they’re inexpensive) or use your nifty PRSSA-provided cards (which also demonstrate what an active PR pre-professional you are).

During my last week I handed out business cards with my contact information to people I had met throughout the company, along with hand-written thank you notes to those who I had worked with extensively. Most people were really impressed by my thoughtfulness, and when I returned to work over my winter break, I noticed that one of my bosses still had my note, and my business card was tacked onto her wall next to her phone!

Actually keep in touch:

It may feel like you’re being a nuisance, but keeping in touch with your past colleagues, bosses, or business partners can be really important. Create a LinkedIn profile, and connect with people you met throughout your internship, classmates, and even teachers. You’ll be able to upload your resume and achievements as well as receive recommendations from people you’ve worked for. Social media, when used appropriately, can be a valuable channel for networking.

Another way I kept in touch (and still do) with my bosses was through email. Since I knew I was returning to work over the winter, every few months or so throughout the fall semester, I emailed one of my bosses asking about what new projects they were working on so that I could keep up to date.

I also occasionally emailed them questions I had about communications-related schoolwork. Or, if I had been working on something particularly relevant to my internship while I was at school or had important updates, I would send it to them to show them how I am improving my skills, and thank them for helping me pave the way. For instance, I was working on a presentation about social media, which is something that my boss does often, and I emailed her for suggestions or notes.

Note about the emailing: Just remember that they are professionals, and very busy, so keep your emails occasional, concise, and polite, and gauge exactly how much they need to know. If you maintain a friendly professional relationship, they’ll be impressed by your persistency and desire to improve, and you get a chance to remind them how amazing you are!

Written by Gabriella Chiera.

Crisis Public Relations- Drunken American Red Cross?

As I was following the PR world on Twitter last week, I watched a very interesting event unfold. During the night of February 16th, an employee who tweets for the American Red Cross accidently tweeted a personal thought under the organization’s twitter account. Gloria Huang posted on Twitter, “Ryan found two more 4 bottle packs of Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch beer…when we drink we do it right #gettngslizzerd.” Immediately Twitter filled with tweets responding to the shockingly inappropriate Red Cross post.
With the expansion of twitter and other social networking sites in the business world, people often juggle personal and professional accounts for multiple social media outlets.  Gloria made an honest mistake, but her tweet was a reflection of the American Red Cross, a well-respected organization that is a player in the international community. Such a comment is a true case of a need for crisis PR.
How would you fix such an enormous blunder that reached an international scale? Many agree the Red Cross handled the situation appropriately.  Instantaneously, the tweet was deleted, but deleting a tweet could not fully reverse the damage that had been done. So the Red Cross took a few other steps to repair its’ reputation. Quickly, a new tweet appeared, “We’ve deleted the rogue tweet but rest assured the Red Cross is sober and we’ve confiscated the keys.” This response not only acknowledged that a mistake had been made, but also showed that the Red Cross has the confidence to laugh at itself. The Red Cross also addressed the mistweet as a “twitter faux-pas” on its blog.
In the blog the Red Cross said, “While we’re a 130 year old humanitarian organization, we’re also made of up human beings. Thanks for not only getting that but for turning our faux pas into something good.” Because the mistake was attended to with an air of grace, many followers of the Red Cross showed their understanding by pledging donations monetarily and expressed interest in attending blood drives.
Here are some key lessons that can be learned from the Red Cross  mix-up are as follows:

“1.When a crisis occurs, address it quickly.

2.  Respond to the crisis in the same forum where it occurred, as well as putting to work other available social media networks.
3.  Be honest about the mistake.

4.  Apologize for the mistake.

5.  Don’t panic.

6.  Use the moment to humanize your brand.”
You often hear that any press is good press, and in the case of the mistweet, this was proven to be true. Because the mistweet included the mention of the small brewery Dogfish, the brewery stirred interest on an international scale. To show their thanks for the free advertising, many distributers of Dogfish joined the twitter conversation and offered beer-for-blood promotions! The mistweet went from an unprofessional crisis to a gain for both the American Red Cross and Dogfish Brewery! By spinning a story with creativity and humor a major crisis can be transformed into good press. Next time you are faced with a crisis, look upon this mistweet case for guidance!
Written by Sarah Vlach 

 

From Newark to New York: Top three things I learned during my internship at Hunter PR

Written by Kayley Conti

This past winter I was awarded an internship at a fabulous Madison Avenue public relations agency, Hunter Public Relations, owned by PRSSA-UD’s national advisor, Grace Leong. During my 5 weeks at Hunter PR I was exposed to the field of Public Relations up close and personal.  Here are the top three things I learned about PR:

1)     In the field of PR, there is no such thing as a typical work day

I know it is drilled in our heads by our PR professors, and guest speakers, but its true! I came to know and love the unpredictable work day filled with surprise projects. In a “typical” workday I did everything from calculating media impressions, writing press materials and creating media lists to arranging and mailing a gift basket to famous ice skater Johnny Weir!

2)     PR professionals must always be on their toes, ready for crisis to occur

My very last week at Hunter PR I was asked to help write press materials for a coat drive at a school  in the Bronx hosted by a pro bono client.  Being the day after Groundhog Day, the plan was to have my supervisor dress up as Staten Island Chuck, New York City’s local groundhog, to meet and greet the kids and help hand out coats. When an ice storm hit NYC that evening, the event was cancelled and postponed to the following day. With press materials already approved and ready to be pitched to media, suddenly we had to start over.

3)     PR professionals must learn to be “jacks of all trades” knowing everything there is to know about a specific client or industry

Upon receiving the assignment of creating press materials for the coat drive, I was asked to do some research and find out how we could use Groundhog Day to promote our event. I now know more than I ever thought was possible about Groundhog Day! Here are some of my favorite facts:

1)     Staten Island Chuck’s formal name is Charles G. Hogg; he resides in the Staten Island Zoo.

2)     Chuck has a 76% accuracy rate at predicting Spring’s arrival.

3)     Last year, upon emerging from hibernation, he bit Mayor Bloomberg’s finger.

I truly enjoyed my experience at Hunter Public Relations. As a future PR professional, I highly suggest all PR students (and members of PRSSA) jump at any opportunity for an internship. After my short 5 weeks at Hunter PR, I am excited and ready for the workforce I will be thrown into upon graduating from UD in May.

Principal of Icahn Charter, Danny Garcia; NYC Clothing Bank board member, Mary Lanning, our very own Lauren C., Jason Winocour as Staten Island Chuck, me and coat drive voluntee

Spring Semester News

PRSSA-UD has a busy semester ahead! We will be taking our members on multiple PR-related field trips, including one to New York and another to a Phillies game, and to the regional activity hosted by Penn State University PRSSA. We also have a great speaker line-up for our general meetings. Check out this tentative schedule below, and mark your calendars now! We hope you’ll join us for all the great events we have planned this semester.

FEBRUARY

–        Wednesday, Feb. 16th: Philly Ad Club “Personal Branding Boot Camp”

o   St. Joseph’s University, 6:15pm-8:15pm

§  Carpool from UD, Leave at 4:30 p.m.

o   http://www.phillyadclub.com/philly-ad-club-students-personal-branding-boot-camp-successful-interviewing.html&type=all

–        Thursday, Feb. 17th: General Meeting

o   7pm, Kirkbride

–        Week of February 21st: Want to join PRSSA-UD? Look for our dues collection areas around campus to pay your membership dues.

o   Locations and times TBA

–        Friday, Feb. 25th: Agency tour at Aloysius, Butler, & Clark in Wilmington

o   2:00-3:30pm

o   Tour AB&C, and hear about PR and agency life from CEO John Hawkins and Public Relations Coordinator Natalie Peters

MARCH

–        March 1st: Dues due to PRSSA National

–        Thursday, March 3rd: General meeting

o   Speaker TBA

–        Monday, March 14th: PRSSA Challenge

–        Saturday, March 26th: Regional activity at Penn State University

o   “The Reality of PR: A Survivor’s Guide to the Public Relations World”

o   http://prsurvivorpsu.wordpress.com/

APRIL

–        Thursday, April 7th: General meeting

o   Speaker TBA

–        Thursday, April 21st: General meeting

o   Exec. Board 2011-2012 Elections

MAY

–        Monday, May 2nd: Spring Networking Function
Yours in PRSSA,
Abby Stollar
Chapter President