Routine Checkup: What I’ve learned so far

 

Four months ago I posted a blog called “What the Heck is Public Relations?”. In that blog, I talked about my preconception of what PR was and what it actually was. After doing some research I learned more about the industry and found that public relations is all about forming relationships between a brand and a consumer. One of the biggest realizations that I came to when writing that blog was the fact that a lot of PR is done behind the scenes. I also made it clear that it is not the job of a PR practitioner to stretch or exaggerate, but to tell the truth. The last point I made in that blog was stating that the public relations industry is constantly changing, and that’s true. Since I posted that blog I’ve learned a lot about what being a PR practitioner is all about and what the day to day looks like.

My previous conclusion about public relations practitioners working behind the scenes was correct, but it goes even farther than that; nothing done in a campaign is spontaneous or without thorough research. Every single day during a campaign period is planned out, the tactics for that day have been deeply researched and vetted by the entire team before anything actually happens. After looking at a detailed Gantt chart one can see how the routine of a PR practitioner and the campaign made for a client is extremely dependent on scheduling.

The second point I made was that a public relations practitioners must be honest and never stretch the truth. This is still one of the most important things about PR, never lie to the consumers. First off, they won’t trust you if you lie, and secondly, it’s simply not ethical to create relationships and sell products based on lies. Not only is it crucial to never stretch the truth, I now understand that it is the truth can be manipulated by the public and the media, and often times a PR practitioner can not attempt to defend their client, and instead, they must accept the “truth” of a situation and simply apologize. I dealt with crisis public relations in my blog “Learning from the Chipotle Crisis”. When nineteen people in the Washington state and three people in Portland, Oregon got sick Chipotle decided to temporarily close forty-three of their locations. The problem with this whole situation is that their linkage between E-coli and chipotle was only assumed, the bacteria was never directly correlated with the burrito franchise, but regardless the public relations team at Chipotle had to react and accept the “truth” being put forward by the masses. This can be frustrating at times, but it is the job of a PR practitioner to roll with the punches and still come out on top.
A third point that I had made in my first blog was that the public relations industry is constantly changing. I stand by this, just like any industry, the job and the employees must adapt to what their consumers and clients are asking for. Public relation is no different, the industry is becoming increasingly specialized where a practitioner can now choose if he wants to work for medical brands, sports teams and products, or my personal favorite, outdoor and adventure brands. In my blog “Adventure Public Relations and Marketing”, I talked about my desire to work as a practitioner in the outdoor industry. What’s great about PR is that it allows you to do just that. A lot of this is due to social media. Since the late 90’s social media has become a way for people to connect with others from all over the world. Businesses and brands have found a need to create a social presence and throw their hat in the ring. Because of this brand are forced to create a personal voice, that’s where public relations come in. Social media is all about connections and so is public relations, people now expect companies to have relationships with the public, so everyone needs PR.

In conclusion, the things that I have learned in the past four months have not changed my views on public relations but they have increased my knowledge of how in depth the industry really goes. I never thought that a campaign could be as detailed as they are, and how intense the research for each tactic can be. I’ve learned that while it is the job of a PR practitioner to preach the truth, it can sometimes be just as important to accept the “truth” created by the media and the public, while this can be frustrating, it’s the way it’s going to be. And lastly, I’ve learned that PR practitioners now have the option to specialize in a field of Public Relations that they like the most, which can me the job that much better.

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Resume’ building with the GVSU Career Center

I was more than happy to receive help with my resume’ this last week at the Grand Valley State University Career Center. I was able to sit down with a representative who took the time to walk me through the steps that should be taken to create a good resume’ that will compel companies to give me an interview. In doing so they tore my resume’ apart and had me redo my formatting and change some of the content in a way that is more eye-catching and visually appealing. While some of the changes seem insignificant and minor, they all represented a crucial aspect of how employers look at resume’s and what they value the most.

Here it is, old on the left, new on the right.

As you can see, I was able to keep the general formatting of the page, but the representative at the Career Center instructed me to remove the photo (unprofessional), remove the “About Me” section and reword it into an objective, and to add some spark by including my certifications that might attract employers. It was really great getting help from a professional who knows the in’s and out’s of resume’ building.

Special thanks to all the staff at the GVSU Career Center!

Reference:

Janiszewski, L. (2017). Old Resume, [Screen Shot]. Microsoft Word

Janiszewski, L. (2017). New and Improved Resume, [Screen Shot]. Microsoft Word

Creating a Business Card: Having Fun in Adobe Illustrator

This week I had some extra fun by playing around with some different tools in Adobe Illustrator and creating a phony business card. I used my blog title as the inspiration for a marketing company. As I looked at some of my favorite marketing companies and their logos I decided that the best way to go was to be simple and abstract. In doing so I created a design that represents my passion for art and my passion for the outdoors, an abstract colorful mountain.

^^^^^ Above my work while in Illustrator ^^^^^

 

BC front      BC back

and here is the finished product, a phony business card for a company that doesn’t even exist, but it was fun and its going to be the new look of this blog. Time well spent if you ask me.

 

 

References:

Janiszewski, L. (2017) Taking Steps Business Card [Screen Shot]. Adobe Illustrator

 

Close Ties: Social Media and Public Relations

7:30 am, the alarm wakes you up, and if you’re like me, you take a long pause, evaluate your life decisions, and while still disoriented, you roll over and grab your phone. Then, you proceed to check your various social media platforms. How many likes you got on that photo you posted on Instagram last night, check birthdays on Facebook, and maybe see what’s happening in the Twitter-verse. Social media has become a part of our lives these days, as of March 2017, the average person spends nearly two hours on social media every day (Davidson, 2015). Corporations and Public Relations professionals would be insane not to utilize this valuable time to get their various messages out and connect with their audience.

We use SM for everything, whether it’s checking what reviews for the restaurant we’re considering, catching up on the news, or simply Facebook-stalking a new friend, SM has become a part of our lives. “Social media emerged as integral for cultural maintenance at every point in the circuit of culture.” (Vardeman-Wnter, 2015). It’s grounded in our culture, and corporations aren’t taking it lightly. Public Relations practitioners have utilized it relentlessly as a means of establishing personal connections with the public and creating a corporate voice that extends past a group of practitioners. Being a part of the culture is an important goal for PR and social media is simply a way to fulfill that goal.

Communication is key, and social media has proven itself a great way to do just that. Francine Charest conducted a focus group of professionals that utilize social media management and found that nearly all corporations that consider the general public as a target audience have a specific SM team devoted to pushing messages on all platforms, and without them, they would be falling behind the competition. “Indeed, it may be difficult for an organization to achieve its communication objectives if it does not have a dedicated team for SM, adequate monitoring tools and, of course, a realistic budget.” (Charest, 2016). Public Relations is still learning to utilize SM and how to target specific audience influencers as a way to gain media recognition and further push their brand and propel their company into the public eye.

Some professionals have argued that social media public relations is just a poor excuse for communication, but I beg to differ, poor communication would be not utilizing the tools in front of you, and social media is a big tool. SM is an outlet that reaches an extremely wide audience, these days everyone and their great-aunt has a Facebook, it’s no longer just for young people. PR practitioners can utilize this form of mass communication as a way to establish a dialog between brands and their consumers, after all, public relations is all about creating relationships and engagement between organizations and the public (PRSA, 2015). Museums have started utilizing the tools of SM as a way to reach out to the public and establish new audiences. They have found that utilizing an online experience as well as a physical one creates a new sense of engagement with the younger generations, and brings new people through the doors (Bojana, 2016).

Social Media is a tool that can and should absolutely be used by Public Relations practitioners as a way to further engagement and establish new audiences. Every day, people are scanning various forms of SM platforms, and it’s important for practitioners to establish a presence on these platforms as a way to reach the largest audience. SM is not a poor form of communication, it offers a new way for a brand to share experiences with the public and establishes an easy way for consumers to communicate directly with their favorite brands to further connections and relationships. Public Relations and social media have a clear connection in this day and age, and it is important that practitioners utilize SM to the fullest.

References:

Davidson, L. (2015, May 17). Is your daily social media usage higher than average? TheTelegraph. Retrieved March 25, 2017, from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/mediatechnologyandtelecoms/11610959/Is-your-daily-social-media-usage-higher-than-average.html

Vardeman-Winter, J., & Place, K. (2015). Public relations culture, social media, and regulation. Journal of Communication Management,19(4), 335-353. Retrieved March 24, 2017, from http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.1108/JCOM-11-2013-0079

Charest, F., Bouffard, J., & Zajmovic, E. (2016). Public relations and social media: Deliberate or creative strategic planning. Public Relations Review,42(4), 530-538. Retrieved March 23, 2017 from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/300411279_Public_relations_and_social_media_Deliberate_or_creative_strategic_planning

Yann, A. (2015, November 30). What is Public Relations? PR Definition: PRSA Official Statement. Retrieved March 25, 2017, from https://apps.prsa.org/AboutPRSA/PublicRelationsDefined/#.WNahWRLytP0

Bojana, S., Karlíček, M., Stříteský, V. (2016). Adoption of Social Media for Public Relations by Museums. Central European Business Review. (.pdf)

 

Adventure Public Relations and Marketing

With the rise of social media and the increasing need for companies to establish a personal voice, public relations has become a necessary part of doing business these days. Due to this, the field has become diversified and public relations firms can specialize themselves into different industries. Having specialized firms allows for practitioners to combine passions and be inspired by the industry they are working in. One of the specialized fields that intrigue me the most is adventure public relations, these firms specialize in working with companies and professionals in the outdoor and adventure industry. All kinds of outdoor companies use adventure PR, everything from well-known brands like Columbia and North Face to adventure destinations like Vail Mountain Resorts and The Tennessee Rafting Company have utilized public relations in a variety of ways to increase their business.

Just like every other form of public relations, firms that specialize in the outdoor industry have to cover all the bases: strategy, press release, event management, as well as the occasional crisis management. The only difference is that these firms take on every problem in the mindset of an outdoorsman, which can be pretty difficult at times. One of the biggest values for these companies is conservation and environmental protection for future generations. One of these firms, Backbone Media offers many forms of marketing services to their clients, but they also clearly state that they “advocate for the protection of our environment for future generations”. (Backbone, 2017). With these values in mind, every action must be taken with the consideration of who is going to be reading and interpreting the messages that will be sent out. According to Bonnie Tsui from Ad Age, one-half of adults in America have taken an adventurous vacation in the past 5 years. These days, adventures have become mainstream, there is a huge market this kind of marketing (Tsui, 2000).

There are many examples of public relations campaigns that have brought this message into their public relations campaigns and it has worked wonderfully. One of the best companies that have utilized this is Patagonia, a company that not only sells tactical adventure clothing but also cares a great deal about the environment. They are constantly pushing new campaigns that focus on the ways that they are working to decrease their environmental footprint. They have done everything from using recycled down to insulate jackets to making wetsuits out of natural rubber. Even in their mission statement, they express their goal of using business as a mean to help environmental issues (Patagonia, 2017). Another example is the case of Naturally Superior Adventures’ use of adventure marketing tactics as a way to boost his paddling excursions. They promoted their excursions as a “do before you’re dead” experience of a lifetime, challenging middle-aged adventures to take on a new task and offer city-dwellers an opportunity to get outside and experience something different (Naturally Superior Adventures, 2017). These are the kinds of messages used every day by adventure public relations firms to help brands grow.

I want to work in a firm that specializes in adventure marketing and public relations because it would allow me to combine my love for the outside with a career that allows me to be creative while working. I would like to have a hand in every aspect of the marketing for these inspirational brands. Being able to promote companies that help people take on new adventures and try new things would be such a rewarding profession. People always say that we should work at a job that makes you happy, and I believe that a job in the field of adventure public relations would do just that.

 

References:

Patagonia, (2017). Mission Statement. Retrieved on March 17, 2017 from http://www.patagonia.com/environmentalism.html

Naturally Superior Adventures, (2017). About Naturally Superior Adventures. Retrieved on March 17, 2017 from https://www.naturallysuperior.com/about-us/

Backbone Media, (2017). Our Values. Retrieved on March 16, 2017 from http://www.backbonemedia.net/our-values/

Tsui., B. (2000, September 25). MARKETING ADVENTURES. Retrieved March 18, 2017, from http://adage.com/article/news/marketing-adventures/56747/

SEO: Digital and Online Media Skills I’ve Learned in My Marketing Classes

We live in an incredible time where anything you want to learn can be attained through a couple searches online. Marketers have adapted to this online age and have place ads and media all across the web in hopes of grabbing your attention. In fact, according to CBS, every day we see over 5000 adverts as we go about our day! With all of this information available to consumers, it can be hard to compete.

It doesn’t have to be hard, and of course, the answer to this problem can be found with just a few clicks. In my most recent Marketing Class (100-1k), we focused on Search Engine Optimization; the process of crafting your media in a way that makes it more discoverable based on the keywords and phrases that you use in your content. Consult with any Digital Marketing (1k-10k), Internet Media (100-1k), or Online Marketing (100-1k) guru and they’ll tell you the same thing: SEO is not only interesting, but these days its completely necessary if you want to get ahead.

I’m Taking Steps (100-1k) towards Learning Digital Marketing (100-1k) and all forms of online Advertising (10k-100k) and Public Relations (1ok-100k). In that effort, this blog is going to utilize keywords and promote Search Engine Optimization as a way to grow my brand.

Using Google Adwords’ KeyWord Planner (will require you to sign in using a google account), I was able to plan out specific keywords for this blog (in bold/uppercase above) and I was even able to see how many people search those terms monthly! Google Adwords has some wonderful tools that you can use to create a search engine optimized blog, website, or any other form of media you have online.

 

References:

Google. AdWords. Retrieved March 15, 2017, from https://adwords.google.com/home/tools/keyword-planner/

Johnson, C. (2006, September 17). Cutting Through Advertising Clutter. Retrieved March 15, 2017, from http://www.cbsnews.com/news/cutting-through-advertising-clutter/

 

 

Learning From The Chipotle Crisis

In the later months of 2015, Chipotle experienced a major crisis when they were accused of serving food that led to e.coli outbreaks in Oregon and Washington State. According to officials as of November 1, 2015, nineteen people in Washington and three people in the Portland area became sick after indulging at the Mexican food chain. While the Washington Department of Health was not able to confidently say that the e.coli outbreak was directly linked to Chipotle restaurants, they were able to speculate that this was the case. Due to this assumed linkage, Chipotle temporarily closed forty-three of its locations according to spokesman Chris Arnold this was done “out of an abundance of caution” (MarketWatch. 2015).

Ever since I first tried Chipotle, I’ve been in love. I remember the e.coli incident and was seriously concerned that one of my favorite restaurants might be closing some doors. Luckily, it seems that this news about Chipotle has breezed over us as consumers and the restaurant is now back on track and it seems that the value of their stock is starting to rise once again. The Chipotle public relations team had to work hard to regain support from their customers. This can be difficult at times, especially amongst an incredibly saturated fast food market where one slip up can cost you millions. When dealing with a crisis like this it is important to follow a plan. The Conflict Management Life Cycle in Think Public Relations is a great place to start when dealing with any sort of public crisis.

The first step in the Life Cycle is to be proactive about your crisis. A practitioner must be vigilantly scanning the environment to be prepared for any kind of crisis before it occurs. They must also look out for a crisis by tracking any potential problems in the media and inside the company by creating strategic plans in precaution. The most important part is to come up with a general plan for any crisis that may occur. It is better to have something established before crisis breaks than scrambling to come up with something when the media is already up in arms.   (Wilcox, Cameron, Reber, & Shin, 2013). Just like everything else, being prepared is always better than not, so why wouldn’t companies be prepared for a crisis situation. Whether you’re waiting for something to happen or you have no suspicion of crisis, it is important to be ready for anything.

The second step is the be strategically identifying conflicts that are just rising to the surface. Part of this is to effectively communicate the risk to anyone who may be involved, it is better that information like this come from the source and not an outside investigator or the media (Wilcox, Cameron, Reber, & Shin, 2013). It is also crucial to place your company strategically in order to anticipate any legal action or bad publicity by having statements ready. Chipotle was ready for this kind of issue, when it occurred the company backed up its “people before brand” mentality by closing the doors of forty-three restaurants even though there was little suspicion of outbreak in the majority of those locations, as well as hiring two food safety consultants to increase their safety precaution (Williams, G. 2015). One thing that Chipotle handled exceptionally well was resisting the “Information Vacuum” and instead was very transparent to their public. They released a statement very early on and was able to speedily react to the problem. (Hogan, M. 2009).

When outbreaks do occur it is important to react appropriately, this includes covering all of your bases through crisis communication including the utilization of the crisis management plan that was developed earlier, as well as meeting the public’s needs. A company should have lawyers ready to support them in any chance of legal procedure, and the PR team should be working to resolve conflicts among the public or internally if necessary (Wilcox, Cameron, Reber, & Shin, 2013). Having these in place will help speed up the process of getting back on your feet. Mike Hogan suggests that the efficiency in which a crisis is dealt with is in direct correlation with the speed of recovery for the brand (Hogan, M. 2009). This is where Chipotle fell short. When the suspected outbreak occurred, Chipotle’s public relations practitioners did not issue any statement on their website and instead pushed their latest Halloween promotion. This did not bode well with Forbes contributor Aaron Kwittenken who said that responding to customers on twitter and facebook alone was not only a failure to uphold their “responsibly raising the bar” brand but also an example a “tone deaf” company (Williams, G. 2015).

Despite this, the Chipotle brand has seemingly recovered. Often after a crisis occurs the most important thing to do is manage the reputation of the brand which may require research and analysis into where the brand sits with its consumers. (Wilcox, Cameron, Reber, & Shin, 2013). One good indicator of this is the price of the company’s stock. In Chipotle’s case, it fell dramatically in November of 2015 and still hasn’t risen even close to its value before the outbreak (MarketWatch. 2015). After assessing the situation, it is crucial to restore the brand’s image by implementing strategies that show that the company is willing to change and win back the customers it may have lost (Wilcox, Cameron, Reber, & Shin, 2013). Chipotle did a good job of this by being increasingly transparent about what it puts in its food even going as far as taking certain items off the menu when they were unable to find a producer that fits their standards for quality (Williams, G. 2015).

Having a plan in mind for a potential crisis is a necessary part of every company’s public relations repertoire. As a practitioner, you must be proactive, strategic, reactive, and finally, you must provide a way for the company to recover. These four steps can help deal with a crisis in an immense way and hopefully the first two will keep your crisis from ever getting to the public eye in the first place. Chipotle did a pretty good job of handing their e.coli crisis, but as always there are ways that we can learn from what they did. It is important to act fast and be honest with your customers. The best way to handle a crisis in an efficient and direct way is to have a plan prepared before one occurs.

References:

MarketWatch.(2015, November 01). Chipotle and the E. coli outbreak: What you need to know Retrieved February 13, 2017, from http://www.marketwatch.com/story/chipotle-and-the-e-coli-outbreak-what-you-need-to-know-2015-11-01

Williams, G. (2015, November 04). Chipotle’s E. Coli Crisis: P.R. Experts Say It’s Handling It Right. Retrieved February 13, 2017, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/geoffwilliams/2015/11/04/can-chipotle-survive-its-e-coli-crisis-pr-experts-seem-to-think-so-and-offer-advice/#1eef2d621644

Hogan, M. (2009). Crisis public relations. In B. Franklin, M. Hogan, Q. Langley, & et. al., Key concepts in public relations. London, UK: Sage UK.

Wilcox, D. L., Cameron, G. T., Reber, B. H., & Shin, J. (2013). Think public relations. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.