Vine: A New Way to Connect to Key Publics

Growing up in the digital age, I feel like I’ve seen it all. From on-demand television to iPhone programming that can ask how your day is going, it seems that the realm of technological possibilities continues to grow. The various social media platforms used through these technological advances continue to amaze me as well. By no means has the latest trend in the social networking world surpassed the ingenuity of Facebook, but a little gem called Vine has caused quite a stir within the online world. I have seen a number of people and businesses upload their various videos onto the web already, and I cannot help but feel intrigued by the techniques the platform can be used for.

Founded by Dom Hofmann and Rus Yusupov in June of 2012, Vine was created as a mobile app that allowed its users to produce and post six second video clips to the web. These videos can either be shared or embedded via social networks such as Twitter or Facebook. The app was actually acquired by Twitter in October 2012, and although it was initially available for iOS, Twitter is now working on bringing the app to other platforms. The initial impact of Vine was unfortunately not as extraordinary next to Facebook or Twitter. But, since its entry to the social media world, it has quickly gained steam, with users posting more than 100,000 Vine videos in one weekend just three weeks after the app’s debut. Just recently, on April 9, 2013, Vine became the number one most downloaded free app within The App Store (iOS).

According to iTunes, Vine is “the best way to see and share life in motion.” You can “create short, beautiful, looping videos in a simple and fun way for your friends and family to see.” It is easy to “find, follow, and interact with people close to you” and to “explore trending posts, featured hashtags and editor’s picks.” Vine is like the all in one package. It combines the ideas behind Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube, and brings them to life in an interesting stop-motion way, with just the touch of a finger.

Not only are people using this as a way to connect, but businesses are also following the trend. By breaking through the clutter in an interactive, creative way, companies such as Dove and General Electric have already used these short but effective videos to promote their brands by focusing on entertainment and innovation. The fact that the videos are brief also leaves consumers guessing or wanting to know more about the companies and brands as well, which is where the efficiency of Twitter handles and hashtags come into play to engage the audience

ASOS, a clothing company, used their Vine to promote their brand by creating a cute, playful video back in January. The six second clip showed a box, with the top opening and different clothing items finding their way out of it and onto a person. The message read “Loving #vine? We wanna see you unbox your #asos order, tag #ASOSUnbox (we may even give you something new to unbox!) #Fashion.” This was a perfect way to engage the audience and have them interact with the company itself by sending in videos of their own. Even Nintendo used Vine to give their audience a sneak peek at a new product set to come out later in the month. The message they sent with their video read, “Check out what you get with the Wii U ZombiU Deluxe Set, coming to US/Can on 2/17! (MSRP $389.99) #Nintendo #WiiU.” The teaser was an easy way to create hype and get people talking. I personally feel Vine is especially useful when it gives the audience an inside look at companies behind the scenes. Whether these clips are of the companies’ employees or how a product is made, it gives the company more personality, bringing them to life in the palm of one’s hand, and builds important brand loyalty.

I recently decided to jump on the Vine bandwagon and make an account for myself. I was curious to see how simple it actually was to make a six second mini clip. Although my three videos are not exactly the product of genius, I was pretty amazed by how quickly and easily the app could be used. I fooled around with it, creating one with the illusion that my television remote moved across my bed from one side to the other. (Again, not extraordinary). But, it felt like I produced something greater than just a picture. I turned a remote control into a work of art. It was that simple. I’ll just have to wait until next time to really channel my inner Einstein and Da Vinci! As for the future of Vine, I’m excited to see where it leads and hope that more people adopt the app and use it more to promote their personal and company brands.

nicole sullivan

Nicole Sullivan and is a sophomore Communication Interest Major, with intended Advertising and Journalism minors at the University of Delaware. She is part of the Public Relations Student Society of America, the Student Centers Programming Advisory Board, and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars on campus.

Audit Yourself: Analyze and Upgrade Your Communications Strategy

By Madeline Brooks

audit

Image Credit: www.shellypalmer.com

Audit. The word carries dreaded connotations of taxes, evaluations… but what about communications? Communications audits, which I first learned of at my internship, are systematic evaluations of internal and external communications. By analyzing aspects of an organization’s written, online, and internal communications, one can improve these areas as well as formulate new communication plans. It’s the plan of attack before heading into battle.

Though communications audits are typically performed for organizations, their value extends to personal communications as well. Public relations hopefuls must maintain an arsenal of communication tools to build their personal brand – Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs, websites, and Google+, among others. Given the professional value of communication outlets and the amount of time put into them, why not spend an afternoon assessing your use of these tools to make sure you convey your message as effectively as possible?

Auditing your personal communications strategy need not be confusing or require the services of an expensive PR firm. Begin organized and analyze one piece at a time. I recommend filling out a spreadsheet with the following areas of interest:

  • Outlets – What platforms do you use to build your brand and communicate with other PR professionals? Think of expanding into additional outlets, or cutting back on others that offer little value in your professional pursuits.
  • Audience – You communicate with employers, professors, friends, and family. How will you tailor your messages to each? Does your current communications strategy cater to these groups?
  • Tone – No matter your personal brand, your messages and vocabulary should consistently convey this across all communication platforms. Each word in a post or tweet is a building block in your brand. Is your brand solid and consistent, or shaky?
  • SWOTs – Most communications audits assess strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. By identifying these aspects, one can see what to keep doing, what to change, and what to look out for in the future.

It’s easy to keep doing more of the same in our communications, but maintaining our current strategy is not the same as improving it. We need to step back and make sure we do not waste effort on ineffective or inconsistent messaging. Pause to research your communications strategy and perfect the next step, whether it’s a LinkedIn update or new blog post.

A personal audit revealed weaknesses in my own communications, from words I use too often (“great”) in tweets, to the woeful neglect of my LinkedIn profile. Personal communications audits require some tough love, but a brief analysis provides a high return on investment. By comparing your communication tactics side by side, it becomes clear which methods complement – or hinder – your professional development. It’s not too late for a little spring cleaning. Audit your personal communications strategy to see what needs work – your tactics should change with time, experience, and feedback. A good communications strategy is never static.

audit platformsImage Credit: www.yoursix.com

Maddie Brooks is a sophomore communication interest major with a concentration in public relations. She is a Social Media Ambassador and is involved with PRSSA and Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. She currently interns with the AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation. She hopes to pursue a job in public relations for a healthcare or nonprofit organization after graduation.

Social Media Use During Crises

By Leanna Bernhard

boston tweet

What’s the first thing most people do when they hear about a crisis? Head to the Internet to find out more information. In recent years, more and more people have turned more specifically to social media for news than to any other online source. Social media enables users to find out information in real time, while the crisis is still taking place. Content is uploaded at amazing rates to social media sites during crises. Someone a block away from a tragic event, like the recent Boston Marathon bombings, can snap a quick picture of the scene then tweet it, and within the next few hours, that picture spreads like wildfire. It starts popping up on the websites of the world’s leading news sources.

In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, individuals and large companies both turned to social media to help those impacted by the tragedy. Google launched its “Person Finder,” so victims could reconnect with their friends and family during a time of spotty cell phone service. Individual Bostonians took to Twitter to offer their homes as safe havens for victims and their families to stay for the night.

Although these examples prove that social media during times of crises is a great resource, it’s necessary to remember that not all information published is true. First reports of an incident usually contain inaccurate information, such as when it was believed that a Saudi man was the culprit behind the Boston Marathon bombings. Two days after the bombings, I read on Twitter that an arrest had been made in connection to the bombings. Once again, I believed this, only to find out hours later that this report was false. Fake Twitter accounts were also created after the bombings with the intent to solicit donations for the victims, but it was a scam. These scammers tried to take advantage of the vulnerability and sympathy most people feel immediately following a crisis.

So should people continue turning to social media during and after crises? In my opinion, the good outweighs the bad. False information will always be clarified later, but having any information at all helps us to make sense of the situation and understand what has occurred. I’d rather have constant social media updates, some false, than read a headline on CNN stating “Bomb explodes during Boston Marathon” and have no other information besides that.

Using social media during times of crises is a terrific news source, but users must not be passive readers. Don’t automatically believe your friend’s Facebook status to be true. Check the validity of a Facebook post or tweet by going to a credible news website like CNN or follow credible sources to help ensure that information you read is true. Don’t get all your information from one source. Read information from a variety of social media sites to get a broader view of the crisis. Different sites will probably post different information. Be a smart social media user and make sure to join in on the conversation if you have any factual information to add!

Leanna Bernhard is a junior mass communication major with a concentration in public relations and a minor in advertising from Baltimore, MD. Along with being apart of PRSSA and the Communications Committee, she is also apart of UDress Magazine’s public relations team and an undergraduate research assistant for Dr. Courtright. She is currently a public relations intern at the Delaware Center for Horticulture and hopes to find a job in the public relations field after graduation.

Fictional Portrayal vs. the Reality of Public Relations

By Andrea Annal

Courtesy of Google images

Courtesy of Google images

If I had been asked a semester ago what the “public” in public relations meant, I would have said it meant the general public. I know now that is not necessarily the case. A public can be broad, but it can be much narrower. Enrolling in Intro to Public Relations and joining PRSSA expanded my view of the field.  Prior to this semester, I was not exactly sure what public relations practitioners do.

Television and movies tell us people working in public relations plan parties and spin news topics whatever way necessary. Mad Men provides a little insight, but it mostly deals with advertising, as well as the outdated two-way asymmetric model of public relations. If Samantha Jones from Sex and the City is one of few role models available, then I am out of luck to learn from example. Of the episodes I have seen, Jones is never at work, and always glued to a guy or a cosmopolitan. Yet, she can still afford these luxuries of a Manhattan lifestyle. It seems as if the writers of the show were in the same boat as me: “I’m not sure what public relations is, but let’s make it this character’s career. We’ll show her planning parties and advancing her actor boyfriend’s career.”  Of course, I would not necessarily expect a show whose only focus is the love lives to really delve into the ladies’ careers. Luckily, I can take classes and join organizations to gain experience in this field. Additionally, this exposes me to a variety of real life role models.

Courtesy of Google images

Courtesy of Google images

On the show, Samantha is a smooth talker, like other public relations practitioner portrayals, but is she a smooth writer? I learned in the last month and a half that the ability to write is everything in public relations. Sure, working in the field of public relations will involve event planning, but one needs to write the media release and details about that event to make it happen successfully.

From the guest speakers at PRSSA meetings to the subject of my interview project for Professor Bartoo’s class, the ability to tell a story and to write, clear and to the point, is crucial. I always considered myself a decent writer. The success I had in high school English courses almost swayed me to enroll as an English major. In the end, Communication seemed more suitable due to my love of television, movies, and other forms of mass media. It now seems I may have found my niche: public relations. With more experience, I can become the type of writer able to fit in as public relations practitioner.

In an ideal world, I would love to work in the public relations department for NBC in New York City. Maybe with such a position, I could convince someone to write a television show with a more accurate depiction of public relations. I even could pull a Tina Fey and write my own show fictionalizing my job with NBC.

Andrea Annal, a Delaware native, is a sophomore communication interest major with minors in Journalism and Women’s Studies at the University of Delaware. She is a new PRSSA member this semester and has written for The Review in the past. 

PR and Marketing

By Brooke LeMunyon

Over the past seven weeks, I have enjoyed the opportunity to learn some of the basics of marketing through an introductory course here at UD. Due to my professor’s use of social media as a learning tactic, I’ve finally forced myself to become savvy in the Twitter universe! The class also sparked my interest and appreciation of some of the creative tactics used in the business world to spread knowledge on products and companies to the public. Similarly to the field of public relations, marketing is a fast-paced field that constantly changes. Although the course is not a requirement for communication majors and those studying public relations, I have found that a background in and understanding of marketing is very important for growth as a developing PR professional.

First, marketing relates to public relations in the overlap in responsibilities professionals possess. According to an article from Forbes by Barbara Thau, marketing and public relations both play vital roles in creating brand value. Products, services, and the companies that provide them are marketed through use of public relations skills such as writing press releases and avid use of social media. This aids in creating brand name recognition. As brand partners, marketing and public relations pursue creation and maintenance of client reputations. Also, smart marketing results in positive PR for companies. When these fields work together, the client is practically guaranteed to be pleased.

In addition, an understanding of marketing helps potential employees set their resumes apart for internship and job searches. It gives a competitive advantage. In today’s job market, exceptional writing skills simply won’t cut it: a variety in experiences and capabilities is key to differentiating oneself. Professionals need to understand concepts such as “the four P’s”, as well as the company’s goals. According to an interview from Adweek with PR executive Andy Polansky, clients now seek versatility in multimedia platforms and marketing in their ideal public relations agency. With these qualities in high demand, adding marketing to your pool of skills will only help, not hurt, chances of obtaining great PR opportunities.

For all PRSSA members and public relations enthusiasts, I encourage you to consider taking a marketing class during your college career. If you cannot find room in your schedule or are preparing to graduate, utilize resources such as the UD library and databases to research ways that marketing and public relations work together. Continue to discover how the fields work as brand partners. I have found it extremely helpful in developing my understanding of what is expected of me upon entering the job market. Although as a sophomore I have a long way to go, I am excited to continue preparing for a career in public relations and the challenges and opportunities it presents. I hope your interests and skills grow as well!

tim visitBrooke LeMunyon is a sophomore communication interest major from Jackson, New Jersey. She has minors in advertising and English. She intends to pursue mass communication with a concentration in public relations. As a career goal, she would like to pursue a job in public relations for non-profit organizations. She will be interning at The Bridge Christian Radio station this summer. In addition to involvement in PRSSA, she is a small group leader for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, has written articles for The Review, and is currently pledging Alpha Phi Omega.

Veronica’s Back

By Jennie Osber

The TV show Veronica Mars has become the fastest Kickstarter project in history to reach its goal as of earlier this week. The show’s creator Rob Thomas and star Kristen Bell were behind the project, getting it out to the public through social media. Thomas spoke to WB executives and they agreed to allow the cast to make the movie if they were able to raise enough interest and the money for production in thirty days. They needed to raise 2 million dollars to cover all of the costs and fans were able to raise that much money in about 4 hours! They raised their money in record-breaking time and currently only a few days into the project, the Veronica Mars movie has raised over 3.7 million dollars with the rest of the month still to go. Thomas, Bell and the rest of the cast were able to accomplish this with amazing fans and also very skillful public relations tactics.

Veronica Mars is a perfect show for a Kickstarter campaign because it has such a strong cult following and loyal fans willing to spend the money to get the word out there. Fans congregated over different forums and social media outlets to help promote the movie. Even though the show was cancelled in 2007, fans are dying to see a Veronica Mars movie and find out what has happened to their favorite characters after all these years. Luckily for the cast and crew, the fans did a lot of the promoting for them. They got the hashtag #veronicamarsmovie trending on twitter and Kristen Bell began tweeting to her one million followers, who then got the ball rolling. Within a few hours, thousands of people were backing the movie and telling everyone they know to help too.

The smartest thing that Thomas did from the public relations perspective is offer different incentives for all of the different levels of donations. For the smaller donations of $10 or more, fans were able to receive a copy of the script on the day of the movie’s release. And the prizes only increased from there. By just pledging a little bit more money, people could get Veronica Mars t-shirts, behind-the-scenes updates, personalized messages from the cast and signed copies of the official movie poster. However, the biggest prize of all for one lucky Veronica Mars lover was getting a speaking role in the movie for just a mere $10,000. With so many different prizes, the Veronica Mars team is creating so much buzz around the movie as well as positive feedback in the media. Websites like Kickstarter allow for projects like this to be possible because people can donate from the comforts of their own computers. Bell and Thomas will continue to campaign to raise even more throughout the rest of the month. Regardless, they did achieve their goal of finally being able to create the Veronica Mars film.

Image courtesy of http://cdn.pastemagazine.com/www/articles/Veronica%20Mars%20Cast_NEW.jpg?1363186244.

Jennie Osber is a sophomore, communication interest major with a psychology minor. Along with PRSSA, she is a member of the National Service Sorority, Gamma Sigma Sigma and the UDress magazine. In the future, she hopes to work as a public relations professional for a non-profit organization.

PRSSA-UD Weekly Updates (3/17 – 3/24)

PRSSA-UD members participate in a social media and ethics activity at the last meeting on Monday, March 11.

PRSSA-UD members participate in a social media and ethics activity at the last meeting on Monday, March 11.

Upcoming this week:

Monday, March 18 – Online Portfolio Skill Slam (306 Gore Hall – 7 p.m.)

Updates:

Elections:

Want to be on the PRSSA Executive Board? Apply today! Note: Applications are due on Wednesday, April 3 to the Department of Communication in 250 Pearson Hall. Interviews will take place during the afternoon of Sunday, April 14.

Applicants must speak to the executive board member whose position they would like.

Any questions? Please email PRSSA-UD president Chelsey Rodowicz at chelseyr@udel.edu.

Upcoming Events:

Mark your calendars! We will be travelling to Brownstein Public Relations in Philadelphia for an agency tour on Friday, April 5th. Time is TBA!

Committees:

If you’re interested in joining the National Conference Committee, please email vice president of external affairs Mollie Berner at mberner@udel.edu. This committee will be helping Drexel PRSSA, the host chapter of PRSSA National Conference 2013, plan activities, outreach and more!

PRSSA 2013 National Conference 2013: Foundation for Innovation will take place from October 25 – 29 in Philadelphia, PA.