Performing on the Public Relations Stage

By Laura Hepp

Musical theatre. The heat from the spotlight, the echo from the microphone, the anticipation from the audience. What more could one possibly want? Growing up, I performed in many musical productions and jumped at any and all singing opportunities. What can I say? This little girl knew she wanted to perform and she had a passion for doing just that. Now, I’m a Communication Interest major at the University of Delaware. Does that mean I gave up on my dream? Absolutely not. My dream just expanded. As a child, I always said I wanted to be a Broadway star. Now, I will proudly declare I want to be a public relations professional (although, I certainly won’t turn down a Broadway role if offered).

One might say this is a drastic change, but I would beg to differ. While appearing different, musical theatre and public relations actually stress the same key components.

1. The Importance of Networking

Ah, yes, the key to success in the public relations field plays the leading role in the musical theatre realm. Having a connection with the director or production staff can get you that impossible audition slot and/or the chance to play your dream role. It’s all about who you know.

2. The Audience

In both fields, every action must be made with the audience in mind. When auditioning, a performer must tailor song/monologue selections to the audition panel. Selections must reflect the performer’s strengths and the panel’s desires. During a live show, actors must modify their performances to their specific audience. Did the crowd laugh for a long time after a joke? The actor must pause and resume when appropriate. Did the crowd stay silent after a joke? The actor needs to proceed and make further acting choices accordingly. Disseminating messages to your target audience is all about listening and responding.

3. Promotion

What performer hasn’t posted a Facebook status or tweeted about his or her show? We want everyone to hear our show-stopping solo or watch our lengthy tap-dancing number! Generating buzz online and in-person ultimately fills seats in the audience!

4. Team Work

Yes, most performers want to be front and center. Most performers want the lead roles. Most performers definitely want recognition. However, the best performers aren’t the ones with the widest vocal range or the most dance experience. The best-of-the-best want their cast mates to shine just as brightly as themselves! Highlighting the strengths of others, building a positive atmosphere, and working towards a common goal will benefit the overall performance. Sound familiar? To achieve the utmost success, PR pros must adopt the same behaviors in their work environments!

5. Be a Passionate Professional

When approaching their work, PR pros and musical theatre performers must be ambitious and determined! Needed skill sets for both professions include taking direction, always seeking areas for improvement, quickly learning new material, and maintaining confidence at all times.

See? The two aren’t so different after all! The Broadway-dreaming little girl inside of me is definitely not disappointed. Instead, she sees how the fields overlap and agrees that crafting media pitches, tweeting, and representing an organization are new ways to shine in the spotlight. Public relations is a new stage for me. On it, I plan to perform the rest of my life. So let the curtain rise and start the overture, because I am ready for my entrance!

Nick+Jonas+Nick+Jonas+Joins+Cast+How+Succeed+SRQICu8Aadqx(Photo courtesy of zimbio.com).

Laura Hepp is a freshman Communication Interest major with a minor in Theatre Performance Studies. She is an active PRSSA member who will be joining next year’s executive board as Vice President of External Affairs. She works as a Blue Hen Ambassador and is also involved with Vision A Cappella, E-52 Student Theatre, and Intervarsity Christian Fellowship.

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Are There Too Many Social Networks?

A recent article posed the question: “Are there too many social networks?” At the bottom of this particular article, there were six different ways to share the page with readers’ various social networks. One could tweet the article, share via Google+, send as a Facebook message or “like” the page, pin it to one’s Pinterest board, or share via LinkedIn. In a world that has come to rely quite heavily on social networking sites, whether for use as a past-time or to stay up-to-date with worldly events, when do we start asking ourselves “how much is too much?”

So many interesting social networks are easily available to consumers, and we find ourselves giving our attention to these various sites. From Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to Google+ and LinkedIn, each site serves a different purpose, but each one allows users to connect with others and share personal information with them.  Each social network’s public relations team is also responsible for publicizing their site with catchy statements describing what the site’s purpose is and why you should create an account.
Facebook: Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life.
Twitter: Instantly connect to what’s most important to you. Follow your friends, experts, favorite celebrities, and breaking news.
LinkedIn: Manage your professional identity. Build and engage with your professional network. Access knowledge, insights and opportunities.
Google+: Google+ aims to make sharing on the web more like sharing in real life.
Pinterest: Pinterest is a virtual pinboard. Pinterest allows you to organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web.

With such strong PR teams, how can consumers not help but feel that they would be left out if they didn’t join every social networking site available?  Not only is it confusing to keep track of each account and ensure that pages are up-to-date, it is highly time-consuming! Few people realize how addicting social networking can be, especially since we are social beings by nature. We love knowing what others are up to at all times, but with the amount of networks available, this curiosity has become almost intrusive. People really don’t need to interact at all to see how others are doing. They can simply check any of their friends’ various social networks.

So, the problem is, how do we find a balance between keeping up with all of these networks without becoming consumed by what each site has to offer?

We must consider that although these networks are an entertaining past-time and may be a fun means of checking up on friends, it would benefit us far more to use them professionally. Instead of spending time seeing what others are up to, focus on what you are doing. Spend enough time on each network each day to keep up your image, but don’t allow too much time to get carried away. Instead, get out and enjoy what the world has to offer beyond virtual reality.

Photo Credit: http://techankit.com/

Carolyn Beatty is a freshman at the University of Delaware.  She is a communication interest and English professional writing double major.  She currently serves as the Publicity Coordinator for Harrington Theatre Arts Company and is also an active member of PRSSA-UD.  Follow her on Twitter @carolyn_beatty.

Promote service by clicking “post” or “tweet”

We can all agree that social media has immensely shaped our current businesses, organizations, education and of course, our everyday life.  But how has social media and its influential powers shaped service and volunteerism?

Twelve years ago, Youth Service America, an organization dedicated to promoting youth service, globally launched their annual campaign known as Global Youth Service Day.  It is currently the largest service event in the world that incorporates youth and children volunteers. On April 20-22, 100 countries in over 6 continents will be volunteering and serving others in their communities or to organizations.  Each school, youth group, or club create their own service event that better their communities or benefit a specific organization.

Youth Service America (YSA) track who is attending by the use of social media.  This year, each group of volunteers had to access a Google account and download the Global Youth Service Google Doc under the Template Gallery.  Through the Google Doc Template, groups could then start to plan their service project.  Each service event is then counted and considered an active participant in Global Youth Service Day (GYSD).  Also, through the YSA website you can download flyers and handouts to easily spread the word about the event.  There is also a Global Youth Service Toolkit, available to download online with helpful tips and ideas.  The tips included how to use social media to promote projects.

Three to five months ahead of an event, YSA states to begin to reach out to local radio stations, newspapers, magazines and TV sources and make significant contacts for the future: a key component of PR, networking! A credential to participate in Global Youth Service Day was to create an official Facebook page a group’s individual event.  YSA encourages the groups to update the page with frequent project announcements and to encourage participants to like the page as well.  YSA made a smart choice to mix social media and service.

When the event is two months ahead, YSA encourages all groups to construct a media release that is provided by the Google Template.  The media release is then sent out to the contacts they made earlier in the year at local radio stations and newspapers.  YSA also has a YouTube channel that has been viewed across the world in order to promote this 2 day service event. Groups can make videos and upload them to the channel to create awareness of their projects.

On the day of the event, GYSD participants should be alerting their fans and followers via Facebook and Twitter to say that today is the day!  On Facebook, Flickr, and Twitter, YSA encourages all participants to use the tag GYSD in order to share photos and comments regarding the success of the project.

Global Youth Service Day has to potential to be a major beneficial service event worldwide.  It promotes service done by youth, a generation growing and learning with social media.  GYSD is just one example of how social media affects the world around us.  We all know social media can spread the word with the click of “post” or “tweet.”  Now, volunteerism can continue to affect and change lives with the help of social media.

Photo Credit: http://www.gysd.org

Written by: Natalie Hines.

Natalie Hines is a freshmen at the University of Delaware.  She is a Communication Interest major.  She is an active memeber of PRSSA-UD and of LEAD council, an organization promoting leadership and service that is closely assosciated with the leadership major and minor.

KONY 2012: A Sensational Social Media Masterpiece

DISCLAIMER: I will not comment on the politics of Invisible Children or the KONY 2012 campaign, but simply share my thoughts on its PR efforts and initiatives.

March 7, 2012. A friend and I just finished class, headed over to Trabant, grabbed a bite to eat and got a seat. As per habit, I read through some of the new emails that I received while in class, but then immediately opened Facebook to see what my friends and peers were talking about. I saw a few updates from friends, but nothing too exciting. Sounded like a pretty normal day from the social networks.

But then I noticed a video that seemed to be blowing up. It was called “KONY 2012.” I had absolutely no idea what this mysterious video was about, nor did I know anything about KONY 2012.

After watching later, I wasn’t quite sure what to do with myself because my inner PR geek was exploding. Here are some of my thoughts that raced through my mind after I discovered KONY 2012:

1. The power of social media, especially Facebook, is revolutionizing the way that we communicate. Jason Russell, the director, states that “Right now, there are more people on Facebook than there were on the planet 200 years ago.” This is an incredible statistic, and must be recognized by PR professionals in organizations that have not evolved into the social media age. Invisible Children understands the extreme power that Facebook can have in getting the word out there. They understand that Facebook is an essential platform because of the sheer amount of people that use it. The video was released on March 5, and by March 7, it already had over one million views. The interesting and important feature of social media for PR pros to understand is the fact that if videos or posts are compelling enough, they will be shared over and over again. For example, a friend of mine posted the video to her followers, some of which (including me) posted it to their friends. From there, my friends may have found it interesting as well, and shared it on their profile. This creates a “circling” effect, where the video circles around the entire network from person to person, to the point where it’s posted so many times that so many different groups of “friends” have the chance to watch and broadcast the message.  Because this video became viral so quickly, it also gained word-of-mouth views and news coverage. I told many of my fellow classmates via face-to-face communication about the video because I thought it was important and compelling.

2. Invisible Children understands how to reach a variety of audiences simply through its social media presence. Firstly and obviously, it reaches the audiences represented on social media, which is heavily populated by 18 to 24 year olds. Because the KONY 2012 video is so viral, it’s been picked up by many of the nation’s largest media organizations. This has the potential of reaching audiences that receive their news through television and the Internet, particularly politicians and an older demographic. The main goal of KONY 2012 is to raise awareness about Joseph Kony’s crimes in Africa to the government, and in doing so, convince them to support U.S. military aid to stop him. They have already targeted many politicians, but may reach other local government officials through the media. This could mean even more support for U.S. military aid from local government officials. The older demographic is not as represented on Facebook like younger people are. However, the news coverage of the film has the potential to reach this older demographic through TV. On April 20, supporters of Invisible Children will coat major cities in the U.S. with KONY 2012 flyers. This has the potential to reach many different people because of the diverse nature of cities. I’m not sure if Invisible Children planned this out, but it is an incredibly effective and unique PR campaign to reach its target audience: everyone. Invisible Children is also offering bracelets and t-shirts with their brand displayed. These are unique, but excellent ways to get the message out there. Think of it: if you’re wearing a KONY 2012 bracelet, you have the chance to discuss the campaign on a face-to-face basis with someone who’s not sure who Kony is and wants to find out more.

Overall, the KONY 2012 campaign shines as a PR initiative. I admire the fact that Invisible Children has put so much effort into research and creating a campaign. Because of their precision and planning, they have successfully spread awareness about Joseph Kony and have created a clear call to action. Will this call to action hold up until April 20, when flyers will be posted in every major city in the U.S. overnight? Who knows. For PR professionals, this is an excellent case that shows knowledge of audience, the nature of communication, and planning.

KONY 2012: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4MnpzG5Sqc

Written by Bobby Schrader.

Bobby Schrader is a junior mass communication major with minors in advertising and journalism. He is the PR Officer for the Xi Mu Chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia at the University of Delaware, the Music Director of the MelUDees Coed A cappella group, a PR Writing Fellow, and a Blue Hen Ambassador. Email: rtschrader@gmail.com, Twitter: @BSchrader412

Spring Networking

Spring is finally here! For those Juniors and Seniors, not only does Spring bring wonderful weather, but also immense pressures of finding a summer internship or that first entry level job.  Right now is the time to network, to put yourself in the best light and let all employers know what you can do and how motivated you are.

For all those college students out there, I highly advise you to take advantage of your university’s career center. Not only do they provide you with internship and job postings, but also incredible networking events, such as career expos! Career expos give you the opportunity to meet many professionals at once but in order to take full advantage of the situation, you must be prepared. Becky Johns offers a few tips for networking in her PR daily article that could be very useful during career expos and related events. One of the most important tips that I’ve been told and that is also mentioned in Johns’ article is research.  Before your networking event, it is vital you find out which companies will be attending and become knowledgeable of what their mission is. Depending on the company, you can look for them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter for current updates. Being knowledgeable about the company will benefit you during conversation, and it will let the recruiter know you are serious and professional.

Another important tip is to stay off your phone. It might be obvious, but sometimes it can slip your mind. You want the company representative to know that they have your full attention and are that you are interested in what they are saying.  By checking your phone for notifications, emails, calls, etc., you show the representative that you are more interested in other things and it is also very rude. Along with these tips, I advise to always have a few business cards with you and copies of your resume. Your job does end after the expo is over however, sending the representative you spoke with a thank you email is a great way to stand out and develop a relationship. Meeting professionals can be very intimidating but being prepared can reduce your anxieties, help you make a good first impression, and hopefully get you the position you want!

Courtesy of Google Images and http://www.urbaninterns.com

Written by: Tiffany Cardenas.

Tiffany Cardenas is a junior Mass Communication major, with an Advertising and Interactive Media Minor.  She is the elected PR Chair for Students for Haiti next year, and is currently pledging Gamma Sigma Sigma.

Did someone say…?

Thought Britney and Madonna’s kiss at the MTV video music awards was too much to handle? As the audience, we realize that nothing is too outrageous at these award shows.

With awards season passing somewhat uneventfully this year, the 84th Annual Oscar Awards last Sunday night began hours earlier with the red carpet hype as we sat back anxiously and watched the fabulous, most glammed celebrities of the century walk, talk, and flaunt their gorgeous bodies. What to expect? Easy–the most elite celebrities and their stunning, over-the-top wardrobe. From the up do’s to the smokey eyes, Hollywood royalty earned its nickname, looking elegant, for the most part. At these awards shows there’s always the breath-holding risk that someone may forget his or her lines, stumble and fall or simply not look gorgeous. And sure enough, we weren’t disappointed. There was no mistake when 3.8 million viewers either Tweeted about the show or had something to say when J-Lo had what appeared to be a wardrobe malfunction.

Even people who didn’t watch the show caught the scoop via Twitter, blogs, YouTube and Facebook.  Social media, along with a 24/7 news cycle, speeds news to the masses so publicists and public relations practitioners must almost work around the clock to insure their clients are presented positively to the media and to their fans. Social media can also be used positively by PR professionals in crisis situations, as publicists can address concerns and react to crises immediately.

The lovable Jenny-from-the-block stunned us this past weekend on the red carpet looking flawless in a clinging, see-through Zuhair Murad gown with a plunging neckline and teasing illusion sleeves. This isn’t the first time the fans got an unexpected eyeful of J-Lo. Déjà vu? This reminds us of the revealing Versace dress she wore at the 2000 Grammy awards that barely closed over her front, leaving her cleavage completely open. And the other night, it looked like history was going to repeat itself. Millions of viewers tuned in and Tweeted immediately when they saw what they thought was J-Lo’s cleavage almost exposed, playing hide-and-seek behind the neckline of her dress. One viewer tweeted: “Is it just me, or were we part of J-Lo’s nipples on display…?#jennyneedsabra #Oscars”. When Lopez took the stage with Cameron Diaz to present an award for Best Costume Design she bent over, and rumor has it, that some lucky viewers got a second free show. And others caught it almost as fast when video was posted on YouTube.

J-Lo seemed to have kept us “Waiting for Tonight” to prove her point that she’s back, still sexy, fresh and frisky after becoming a mom and divorcing Mark Anthony. Was this just a shadow or just our imagination? Or were we secretly hoping for something shocking or risqué to happen? In an age of transparency in PR, maybe this was just a bit too transparent.

photo credit: http://www.aceshowbiz.com

Written by: Justine Barretta.

Justine Barretta, 20, is a sophomore English major from Cresskill, N.J.  She is an active PRSSA member and hopes to become a special event planner in the entertainment industry.

All Hail the Intern Queen

If you’re a student, on your job hunt, or just want to learn how to advance your career, check out some of her best advice below:

Internships

  • Nothing about an internship is about the “right now.” You’re probably not getting paid or even getting a job offer out of an internship. It’s a time to learn what you like to do, and oftentimes more importantly, what you don’t like to do.
  • Research the company before you even apply. You should know every single internship you’ve applied to because you should have researched the company to insure it’s the right fit for you. Don’t waste your time sending a generic cover letter and resumes to different employers just to apply — they’ll be able to tell you’re not actually interested.
  • Use your career services center. Show them your resume. Do a mock interview. Let them help figure out what type of internships are out there. As a student, this is all free. After graduation, it’ll never be free again.
  • Follow up after the interview. Send a handwritten thank you note. It takes five minutes of your time but is often the deciding factor of you versus another candidate.
  • Know the requirements. As most internships in this field are unpaid, Lauren noted you should only be working 2-3 days per week for about 12-15 hours.
  • Therefore, do more than one internship! More experiences will always, always help you.

Cover letters

  • Use your cover letter to help connect the dots for the employer. Spell it out. If you’re a student in Tennessee and you’re applying for an internship in NYC, say that you’re going to be in New York for the summer and therefore am interested in the position. Don’t make them guess anything.
  • Customize, customize, customize. If you read your cover letter over and think it could be send to any other company, go back and customize it some more. Swapping out the name of one company for another doesn’t cut it.

Networking

  • Stay in touch with your contacts at least three times per year. Shoot them an email just to say hi or send over an article you think they might like. Stay relevant!
  • Informational interviews are so important. You’re only a student once, so milk it. Ask for short informational interviews with company execs or just any professional you want to talk to. You’ll learn from them, and it’s a great way to get in front of them. (I agree! I’ve been doing these for about three months and have met some amazing professionals who are always willing to help!)

Finally, Lauren said to know your dream job and let everyone else know it to. People are more willing to help when they know exactly what you’re looking for — no ambiguities.

Be passionate, take the initiative, and you’ll see results!

Written by: Abby Stollar.

*Originally seen on Abby’s blog: http://abbystollar.com*

Abby Stollar is a senior at the University of Delaware, majoring in mass communication and minoring in political science, political communication and journalism. She is the president of her PRSSA Chapter, a staff reporter for the campus newspaper, a peer mentor for freshmen students, a tour guide and a teaching assistant. In addition, she frequently tweets (@abbynicole1204) and blogs at http://abbystollar.com.