Category Archives: Creativity

Creative Writing in Public Relations: What’s the Big Deal?

By: Brandon Hardy

Screen Shot 2017-08-04 at 9.00.46 AM

hotcoursesabroad.com

Writing intensive professions are among some of the most flexible and malleable disciplines in the job sphere. If logistical, organizational and communicative necessities are required in business, there will always be a requirement for having proficient writing skills. Many individuals who enter college tend to understate the value of literary proficiency, usually looking to focus on allocating their skills in the STEM fields to gain more sought after majors from accounting to engineering. It would make sense to seek out a major that immediately pays dividends in the working world, but it would be uncreative to assume that these are the only methods to obtain marketability in today’s job climate. Writing offers a lot of value into the business world, especially when looking at public relations. The element that makes writing such an important element of PR is the fact that you are taught to know your audience, perform adequate research and to synthesize and evaluate information from various sources. Writing teaches you how to formulate new ideas and how to effectively communicate them, which is well and good, but what about creative writing?

Creative writing, as an offshoot of the typical writing discipline, involves thinking outside of the normal conventions of regular straightforward prose. It involves experimentation, inspiration, and artistic expression; these disciplines rewire the actions involved with standard prose and add a stylistic flair that is used to communicate ideas in a unique way. These different forms of communication are typically present in narrative prose and poetry. They center around creating an idea and communicating it, like regular writing, but the focus of this discipline centers around the ‘how’. What is the best way to communicate these ideas? How can one make this essay more entertaining? What is the most compelling way to grab the audience’s attention? This is where we start entering the realm of the creative process. This process is centered around spending time analyzing what one wants out of their piece of work whether it is hapless self-indulgence or popular art.

Poetry tends to focus on using rhythm and tone to express a feeling or idea. With poetic writing, the mundane can be entertaining, the depressing can be inspiring and the upsetting can become enthralling. It is a practice of painting pictures with words. This type of skill appreciates word choice and structure, something that is immensely important in the business world. In the blog post: “5 Things Everyone Should Know About Public Relations” the author and public relations professional, Robert Wynne, mentions how a simple spelling error could ruin credibility and harm the outward appearance of a company, imagine how effective poetic/stylistic writing could be when implemented in a similar format? Being able to effectively paint a company in a positive light is valuable, finding ways to tease out all sorts of valuable insights and descriptions from the history, mission statement, and business practices is something that can serve to completely turn around the perceptions of an association and help in building sympathy and relatability.   

Another element of creative writing is narrative prose. All sorts of different genres come out of this concept with the broadest ones being divided between fiction and nonfiction. Narrative prose integrates focusing on persistent variables associated with literature and storytelling: creating a thematic resonance with the audience. There is a genuine flow associated with creating and selling a story. There is a beginning, a rising action, a climax, a falling action and a conclusion. These narrative troupes can be sewed into any canvas. Most companies use these types of structural troupes, humanizing their business by detailing the rigorous challenges that they are undergoing, being transparent and creating a physical narrative that their audience can follow. One of the most important elements of narrative prose would involve making you care. Nonfiction will generally focus on describing an idea, persuading you of its value, and detailing how you can implement that idea into your life. Fiction focuses on a grand theme, a lesson or idea that can be found within the struggles and goals of its characters and uses that to create a connection with its audience.  The biggest strength of fiction is that its wide variety of settings and struggles can communicate a lesson of human condition; in worlds that are far removed from the naturalistic setting of our own, it is the characters who can bring people into these worlds and through them find connections and similarities to their own. Public relations professionals make it their business to make the audience care, and to sell an idea through a narrative stream and flow, whether that is the impetus of the company’s inception or the current plans, difficulties and details occurring with the company in the present time.

Poetry and narrative prose puts a great burden on knowing your audience and being able to find interesting ways to communicate an idea or message to them. When dealing with hazardous climates, a focus on word choice and seaming in a well thought out narrative can change the paradigm of a company’s public image, and can offer the resources to reverse and reshape that image as necessary. In this regard, I find the disciplines associated with creative writing to be an underrated and equally invaluable compass for navigating the stormy waters of public relations maintenance.

Brandon Hardy is a Biochemistry/Toxicology major entering his Senior year of college. His current interests center around extensive reading and creative writing, taking on various projects from novel writing to maintaining a functional blog site. Brandon hopes to be able to combine his love of writing with his love of chemistry in future job settings. May take up creative writing as a major for this year and is looking to join the PRSSA as well.  

The Power of Pinterest for Businesses

By: Nicole Raymond

Everyone knows social media is extremely important for organizations to engage with consumers and draw attention to their business. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are some of the top performers when it comes to marketing through social media with millions of users, but many businesses overlook social media such as Pinterest.

Pinterest has seen exponential growth and marketing opportunities since its inception as a beta site in 2010, and it continues to grow and evolve as a strong social network. Let’s take a look at the features Pinterest has available for business and marketing uses.

pinterest business login.JPG

Source: Nicole Raymond

BUSINESS ACCOUNT

Pinterest has a business account to accommodate many types of businesses, large and small, for free. To sign up for a business account through Pinterest, users enter an email address, password, business name and an optional web address. Utilizing a business account instead of a personal account will allow the user to unlock more features that will help with marketing.

ANALYTICS

Overview:

When you sign up to Pinterest with a business account you have the ability to see your post analytics. You can track your Pinterest boards and pins to see how content is measuring up and which topics are the most popular with viewers. The analytics tab also allows you to see how many people your content has reached over average monthly viewers and monthly engagement rates. Pinterest analytics also allows you to connect your website through HTML code to see all of your pin analytics including click-through rates, saves and much more. At the bottom of the Pinterest Analytics page is your top impressions, saves, clicks and the pin type for the last 30 days.

Profile:

Analytics for your Pinterest profile will allow you to see your average daily impressions as well as average daily profile viewers through your own customizable timeframe. This will allow you to see how certain days and time frames work best for potential customers. The profile analytics page will also allow you to see the top impressions, clicks, saves and pin type of posts and boards within the last 30 days.

People You Reach:

This feature on Pinterest Analytics allows you to see your audiences and analyze the people that see and act on your pins through average monthly rates. The site further breaks down your audiences for you by country, metro, language and gender and even include this helpful hint for better analyzing data to better your business .

Helpful hint

Source: Nicole Raymond

ADS

Pinterest for Businesses has an advertisement feature that allows your business to pay for more users to view your pins. It also has, as you may have guesses, built in analytics for those ads. Ads create traffic and engagement to reach audiences, while allowing you to measure success, failures and compare the two. Pinterest Ads will also help you stay on top of all that needs to be done with reminders and other helpful notifications. The analytics will help you determine which pins are most popular so you can create content similar and drive more traffic to the right places.

Built-in analytics and ads to social media platforms continues to grow in popularity and Pinterest has all the tools needed for a successful promotion or advertising plan, in an easy to understand format. With the immense popularity of the site, I think the tools available will continue to help marketers of all sizes succeed in their Pinterest marketing efforts.

Nicole Raymond graduated from EMU in 2017 with a Bachelor’s in Public Relations and served as PRSSA’s VP of External Relations from 2016 to 2017. Raymond will be starting graduate school at Eastern Michigan University to get a Master’s in Integrated Marketing Communications.

How to make amazing blog graphics (for free)

By: Abby Cousineau

Do you want to make your blog posts pop off the screen and grab people’s attention? This article will explain how to create amazing, FREE graphics for blogs, social media and so much more.

blog post

Source: Abby Cousineau

We all know the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” and although I agree with this statement, I think we all know that living by this saying is actually super hard! We are visual creatures and whether we like it or not, having good graphics for blogs, social media posts, books, etc. can make a huge difference.

If you currently have a blog, just started one or even if you are strictly a connoisseur of other people’s blogs, you probably realize the importance of an eye-catching image. Having a unique graphic is a major factor in getting people to click on your posts.

Creating amazing images for your blog is actually a lot easier than you think and it doesn’t have to cost you any money either!

So, how do you make an amazing blog graphic with no money or graphic design experience?

Here are my three tips:

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Source: Abby Cousineau

Tip 1. Utilize online tools

Canva and Picmonkey are both online sites that make creating graphics a breeze. You can play around with templates and designs like the image above and make it fit your needs by changing colors, text and pictures. You can also create unique designs by utilizing tools like text boxes, frames, shapes, illustrations, charts and more. The best part? Both of these tools are totally free and simple to use.

Tip 2. Design with Adobe Programs

Adobe programs like Illustrator and InDesign are made for graphic design purposes. There are a lot more functions and options on these programs, and there are millions of free YouTube videos that explain how to use them. Although these programs do cost money, if you are a student, most campus computers have Adobe creative suites installed on them, AKA they should be free to use! Additionally, Adobe offers student packages which make getting these programs affordable.

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Source: Abby Cousineau

Tip 3. Get Stock Images for Free

One of the challenges of making graphics for blogs and social media is finding high-quality, relevant photos. Let’s face it, not everyone has the time or the equipment to take photos for their blog posts. Websites like Kaboompics, Pixabay and Pexels make getting stock photos easy and free. Just search for what you want, download and use.

So, there you have it! My tips for how to create professional, eye-catching designs for free.

Abby Cousineau is a senior at EMU majoring in public relations and minoring in graphic design and marketing. She is currently serving as president of EMU PRSSA and is excited to be leading such a creative and dedicated group of individuals. You can usually find Abby outside anytime the weather is nice or otherwise spending her time behind a computer screen, working on one of her design projects. Connect with Abby on Instagram @abcattt.

How PR is like a sandwich

Summer is a busy time for everyone. Whether you are working, going to school, or maybe even both, there is a lot going on and a lot to think about. For me, my time this summer has been split between being a PR intern at the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum and being a Sandwich Artist at everyone’s favorite fast food joint, Subway. This means that I’m either doing one of two things at all times… thinking about public relations or thinking about sandwiches. So, why not both?

At its core, public relations is a strategic communication art form that links an organization and its various publics. The Public Relations Society of America also states that this link is a mutually beneficial. This definition is accepted by virtually everyone in the world of communications, journalism and PR.

Similarly, a sandwich is simply a sandwich. An item of food, a tasty treat, and a form of sustenance to fuel our days. This belief is also accepted by virtually everyone. But, as with PR, there is so much more than that.
Everyone has their own personal touches on their favorite sandwich in the same way that everyone has their own personal touch on their PR work.

Personal branding is a vastly important aspect of the field, and without making yourself seen to clients and colleagues, succeeding in the industry becomes more difficult. In public relations, it is imperative to do something that makes you stand out and be known. When you are venturing in the world of public relations, do not be afraid to make it your own, within reason.

Source: Fast and Free

Source: Fast and Free

By making wise personal branding choices you are taking the foundation of public relations and making it different, new and unique. Each new idea you bring to the table, step outside the box you take, or personal branding endeavor you find yourself in, you are essentially adding a different topping to your PR sandwich. You are taking something and making it your own, something that you will love, and may also inspire or spark ideas in the eyes of another.

If every sandwich on this Earth was identical to the next we would all be really sick of sandwiches. In life, in food, and in public relations, being your own person gives you an opportunity to not only be true to yourself but to also showcase your own ideas and potentially inspire another PR practitioner.

I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t try a sandwich that one of my customers has ordered. Their favorite sub choices have inspired some pretty delicious subs throughout this summer, and in the same way, I’ve also learned tons of tricks, tips and ideas from the wonderful people I am interning for this summer.

At the end of the day, it’s important to do what you love. Next time you go to Subway, don’t be afraid to put every one of your favorite toppings on your sub. In the same way, don’t be afraid to take PR and add your own spark to it. Public relations is a form of strategic communication and a type of art, and a sandwich is bread with toppings. With both of these things, there is room to add to it, to make it your own, and to inspire others with your choices. Don’t be afraid to put your personal touch on either one.

 how do you add a personal touch to your pr work?

Andrea Mellendorf
Chief Financial Officer
EMU PRSSA

Use laser tag to sharpen your PR skills

Public Relations have the ability to intermingle with many different facets of the business world and modern-day society. The effects of skilled practitioners can be linked to numerous occurrences within the daily lives of most Americans.

For example, news stories, Facebook posts, tweets, product placements, slogans, branding campaigns and many others could all be linked back to public relations in many instances. You can relate a lot back to PR…like laster tag, for example.

Let’s  ask ourselves, “How is laser tag and public relations similar?”

Teamwork to Make the Dream Work!

While on the laser tag field of battle, knowing a teammate has your six is a comforting feeling. No warrior likes getting their backside zapped, but it’s a risk for anyone who goes it alone.

The business world can seem a bit cutthroat at times. But, if your team trusts and relies on another and works together, navigating the PR industry won’t seem as daunting.

Plan Strategically

Any professional laser tagger will tell you two things. 1) There’s nothing wrong with living in your parents’ basement. 2) War planning is essential. The battle is won or lost before the first laser is even zapped.

If a PR practitioner comes into a board meeting with guns blazing and no strategic planning, the chances of their ideas getting shot down by top-level execs greatly increases. Come up with alternate ideas, and try to consider what the enemy, your boss, will do to derail your efforts. Counter-planning and thinking ahead will always be essential.

Learn the Battlefield

Learning the enemy’s base location should be a top priority. Locating rendezvous points is imperative while maneuvering your laser tag team through enemy terrain. Intelligence should be gathered, and information should be cross-examined with previous after-battle reports.

Research is also essential for any public relations project. Understanding the current business environment and the past successes and failures of clients is necessary in order to make smart, applicable decisions.

EMU PRSSA members

EMU PRSSA members at Laser Tag!

Never Underestimate the Competition

Just because a kid looks like he’s fresh out of fifth-grade doesn’t mean he won’t zap the crap out of your whole team and take the top scorer position right from under your nose.

PR is similar in this sense. A small firm with great ideas can snatch a client if a well-known player in the business isn’t vigilant. Basically, always put forth your best efforts and don’t rest on laurels.

If Zapped, Recharge and Press Forward!

No matter how proficient the laser tagger, someone will always get a lucky shot every now and then. This does not necessarily mean the entire battle is lost, but takes the time to rethink your strategy and ensure the punk doesn’t get the chance to strike again.

If an executive or upper-level management official shoots down an idea or a concept, don’t become distraught with the setback. Instead, go back to the drawing board and find a new solution from the debris of the last attempt. It’s not always the army with the best plan of attack that wins the war, but usually those that can adapt and conjure effective counter-measures will be victorious.

A closing thought: PR encompasses many different threads of our culture, and finding motivation to become an elite practitioner can be related to most real-life scenarios. In order to become successful, find ways to intertwine other life lessons into your career and there will be a noticeable difference in how situations and dilemmas are approached.

Ken Bowen
Vice President
EMU PRSSA

Playing to win: 10 activities to improve your creativity

“The Cake Boss” Buddy Valastro uses creativity to make the best cakes in America. (pic courtesy of sdcblog.com)

“The Cake Boss” Buddy Valastro uses creativity to make the best cakes in America. (pic courtesy of sdcblog.com)

Creativity in public relations is just as important as good writing skills and being organized.

Creativity creates the ideas that will help your client create the marketing plan that will bring their messages to the public eye.

Creativity helps PR pros think of ways a client can launch a branding project within a certain budget and more importantly, having this skill can help with problem solving.

Many people believe that creativity is something you are either born with or not, but I disagree. Anyone can be creative; you just have to work at it.

Here are some activities you can do to bring out that side within you. Just check out how these companies used their creativity.

Here’s my top ten list of ways to keep the creative juices flowing:

Play a Game: Next time you have a party, put away that beer pong table, turn off that hockey game, go out and grab some games that you have to use your creativity to play. Play Pictionary, Charades, or Apples to Apples. Its fun and you win by using your creativity. It’s good practice.

Brainstorm: Write down as many ideas about a certain project and see how many ideas you can jot down in 20 minutes. You will be surprised at all you will have written.

Carry a pen and a piece of paper on you at all times: You never know when you will come up with an idea or see a product, idea, or concept you like and could possibly use in the future.

Read a Science Fiction book: Scientists do all the time. It motivates them to create the inventions from the book. This activity is good reminder that anything can be possible.

Turn off the Reality TV:  Reality TV does the thinking for you. You just sit there, watch how other people live, and you waste away. Turn off the TV and live your life.

Theme nights: Make a list of 50 different themes such as the “1980’s”, “the zoo”, or “a magic show.” Next time you are hosting a dinner or party, randomly select one and theme a menu, decorations, and activities based on that theme. Example: Jersey Party! Everyone wears sports jerseys and fist pump to Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi music (because they are from New Jersey).

Cut a Promo: Take a random object like a pen or a can of food and talk about it in front of a mirror for three minutes.

This video is an example of what a promo is. It may seem crazy and funny, but do you know what isn’t funny? The millions upon millions of money he made cutting these promos and getting the fans excited by his words.

 

Do Puzzles: The games on the newspaper funny pages makes you think. People who use those games must use their mind, plus people who play them are less like to get Alzheimer’s.

Be Diverse in Conversation: Instead of talking about relationships or work with your friends all the time, talk about shopping, the arts, politics. Change it up; you will learn more about your friend and the topic. These types of conversations make you think.

Play with Children: If you have kids, play make believe with them.  They are the best at imagination. Plus you get more face-time which builds self esteem for them. You get to share creativity as a family and there isn’t anything more satisfying than sharing smiles with your children, right? It’s great stress relief!

Scott Mullin
Chief Financial Officer
EMU PRSSA

Other skills every PR pro should have

As passionate future PR professionals, we take great pride in our schoolwork and internships. A lot of us spend a lot of time on our personal brands through social media or blogging.

But, believe it or not, there are some other things you should be doing before you graduate to make you a more desirable job candidate.

Obviously, having experience through internships and that degree are the most important, but there are some other skills you should have to impress potential employers, too.

Source: All Pro Dad

Source: All Pro Dad

Coding. It’s kind of tedious to think about coding. You know, HTML or CSS or the even fancier stuff. I’m not saying you have to be a professional coder, but knowing the basics of HTML and CSS can go along way on a resume and in an interview.

Adobe. I don’t mean Acrobat (though, there are some things you should know how to do!). I’m talking about Photoshop. InDesign. Illustator. DreamWeaver. These are all beyond helpful – personally and professionally. If you can use any of these with basic understanding, you’re on your way.

Photograpy. We can’t all be Annie Leibovitz or Randee St. Nicholas, but being able to take decent pictures at events is a skill that not many people have. Even being able to whip out your iPhone at a moments notice and taking a picture for a press release is something some people just can’t do.

Why are these skills so important? Because they make us more well-rounded job candidates and offer expertise to roles that other people might not be able to bring. Even a weekend course on any of these subjects can go a long way. Or, consider taking an elective in any of these courses while at EMU.

Emily Vontom
President
EMU PRSSA