Category Archives: Tools for PR Practitioners

Walkouts at the New York Times

By Josie Bobeck

Image result for the new york times

Source: deadline.com

The New York Times is one of the most well known newspapers in the world, if not the number one. And if you know anything about how newspapers work, you know that it takes a village from start to finish to get a newspaper to the public.

Earlier this week the New York Times announces plans to cut back on the news paper’s copy editors. Copy editors are super important in the world of journalism – without them, publications would be filled with typos, grammar mistakes, and missed punctuation.

Image result for copy editing

Source: lynettenoni.com

Executive editors said in a statement that by laying off editors, the newspaper would be able to hire as many as 100 journalists with the money.

Copy editors aren’t the only people in fear of losing their job – the role of public editor, around since 2003, is also said to be eliminated.

So why is this relevant to public relations?

PR professionals work very closely with journalists, and it is crucial that publications are well-written and clean. A simple typo could be very bad for a company. Copyediting is more than just proofreading – it’s a valuable skill that could help give you an advantage in the world of media.

Eastern Michigan University offers a Copy Editing class (JRNL 307). In this class you will learn more about AP style, grammar, and how to improve stories overall.

Josie Bobeck is a senior majoring in written communication and minoring in communication. She is currently the VP of Public Relations, previously serving as VP of Member Relations. Josie hopes to one day work in a creative environment in a big city or for a record label doing publicity. Connect with Josie on Twitter at @Josephine3laine or by email at jbobeck@emich.edu.

 

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6 reasons why Bitly should be in a PR pro’s tool set

By: Jordan Ross

bitly logo

Source: Bitly

Have you ever heard of Bitly? If not, I’ll give you a quick explanation of what it is. Bitly is a website with a simple premise: it is a URL shortener that takes longer, complicated web links and condenses them down into much more manageable links. So why is a tool like Bitly important for those in the PR industry to take note of? Well, much of what PR practitioners do nowadays takes place on the web. Whether it be creating blogs, running social media, or even contributing to online news centers and PR wires, there is a lot of interaction that PR pros do online. All these platforms are used to communicate with the public and provide them with information from the client or organization that we work for. To perform that task as best as we can, there are tools that allow us to have our message spread as clearly and effectively as possible, and Bitly is a tool that can do just that. Off the top of my head, I can think of six simple reasons why a tool like Bitly can be so beneficial for a PR professional:

1. Short

People have a lot going on in their lives, and the last thing they want to remember is a long website URL. If you want to raise awareness for whatever it is you are doing, the simpler you can make things for the average person the better. When people come across a huge website link with a bunch of random letters and numbers that stretch as far as the eye can see, it’s not really the most appealing thing. The shorter a link is, the easier it is to comprehend and understand. By providing shorter links for people, we are saving them precious time. Not to mention, it makes it much easier for them to remember and possibly go back to in the future.

social mouths

Source: SocialMouths

2. Mobile friendly.

Phones these days seem to be getting bigger and bigger, but no matter how large the screens get, there will always be a limited amount of screen space that users can interact with. There is only so much that can fit within the confinements of mobile device screens, and that means each pixel of real estate is important. Another thing to keep in mind is that while mobile phones are getting bigger, people’s attention spans are getting shorter. People want to get their information faster and get as much of it as they can within a given time period. If people are scrolling online and see a long link that they have to click out to, they may just scroll on to see what’s next because it’s too cumbersome to deal with. Bitly on the other hand, allows for the opportunity to take what could otherwise be a complicated link and make it concise and easier to digest. The simpler you makes things for people, the more likely you can get them to buy into what it is you are doing.

3. The ability to customize.

When you add a link to Bitly, you are given back a shortened link by default that typically contains a random string of letters and numbers. The great thing though, is that Bitly provides users with the option of fully customizing that last string of the link. Of course, some names may already be taken, but there are so many combinations that can be used. The ability to customize your Bitly link can allow you to make your shortened link align with whatever cause you are doing. Say for instance with this blog post, I could create the link “Bitly/PRSSABlog14March” and just by looking at the link alone you would get a sense of what the link is directing you to. You can get as creative as you want with customizing these link names, and it just opens the door to a wide array of possibilities.

4. Free

They say the best things in life are free, and I would have to agree with that statement. You might agree with me when you find out Bitly can be used without spending a single dime. Even without signing up for an account, you can take any link, no matter how long it is, and customize it. You can also sign up for a free account, where you can keep track of all the shortened Bitly links that you create. The more tools at a PR practitioner’s disposable, the more resources they have to do their job to the best of their ability. If there’s a free tool out there that can help you do your job better, why wouldn’t you at least give it a shot? You have nothing to lose, and only so much to gain.

There is an enterprise edition that can also be purchased. I’m sure Bitly makes the cost of that version worth it. However, from firsthand experience alone, I can vouch that the basic version you sign up for includes more than enough for the average PR practitioner to sink their teeth into.

5. Easy to use.

If you know how to copy and paste on a computer (if you are using a computer I hope you would know how to), then you know how to use Bitly. All you have to do is copy the link that you want to shorten, and paste it into the box that says “Create a Bit link.” After pasting the link, click create and that’s it. If you want to customize the string of the URL, you are given the option to customize right after the long link is entered. The longest part of the entire process is coming up with a custom URL, unless you want to just use the automatic link that is created for you. The choice is yours! You can always go back and change it, but you’ll want to keep that in mind before you send out the link for the general public to use. You can also create an account by using your email, or you can create one using either your Facebook or Twitter. It would make sense why people wouldn’t want to use a certain tool if it were complicated to use, but Bitly is far from being one of those tools.

analytics

Source: Bitly Blog

6. Analytics

Arguably one of the best reasons why anyone in PR should make Bitly an item in their tool set, is the fact that it provides you the ability to keep track of the links you have created. Not only can you check to see how many people are clicking on your links, but you can see how many people each day have clicked on the link, the relative location of those people, and even whether the click came from the web or any social media site the link was posted on. An important aspect of PR is being able to measure and evaluate your efforts. By doing so, you can see what efforts you need to improve. Without those results, you may not know what future steps you should take. In PR, there are many tactics that we use to achieve the objectives we set at hand. A very popular and easy tactic you can use is a website link to notify your potential audience. Analytics provide you with tangible evidence of the things you are setting out to accomplish, and Bitly allows you to make that process as simple as possible.

Jordan Ross is a senior at Eastern Michigan University majoring in public relations and minoring in communications. Jordan is in his first semester serving as the vice president of professional development for EMU’s Eleanor Wright Chapter of PRSSA. Jordan is also a member of EMU’s Honors College and serves as the president of the EMU Student Center Student Employee Advisory Committee. You can find Jordan on Twitter @_JJRoss

The Skimm makes reading the news…enjoyable?

By: Abby Cousineau

the-skimm-1

Source: theskimm.com

I’m not talking about celebrity or entertainment reporting, I’m talking about the hard, stone-cold facts in the daily news presented in a way that’s actually not boring.

As a public relations student, one thing that has been drilled in my head over and over again is the importance of reading the news. Public relations professionals have to be up to date with current events and trends in order to communicate relevant and newsworthy information to the public. If you are anything like me though, reading the news can be a real bummer, especially when you are pretty much required to skim through the headlines before your morning cup of coffee is even finished. I have found that staying current by reading the news is one of the hardest things for me to do, since I usually don’t have much interest in reading the often dull and depressing “breaking stories.” Checking Twitter and Facebook for my daily dose of news is also a no-go, since I will most definitely get caught up reading updates from my friends and scrolling through random memes and cute animal videos. I was at the point where I thought I would just have to suck it up and get over my hatred for the headlines, but then I discovered  the Skimm.

The Skimm is an email newsletter publisher, which delivers popular news to its subscribers’ email on the morning of each business day. The thing about the Skimm is that what ends up in your inbox isn’t just a copy-and-paste version of a news story, but instead a shortened version that is written in a conversational style so it’s actually fun to read. Yep, that’s right…news that is fun to read!

the-skimm-2

Source: theskimm.com

the-skimm-3

Source: theskimm.com

The company, created by Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin, is specifically targeted at women ages 22-34 and has over 4 million subscribers. Not only is the Skimm owning up to their catch phrase of “making it easier for you to be smarter,” but they are also doing some significant work. According to a  NY Mag article, the company is responsible for getting a staggering 95,000 women registered to vote, and their partnership with Rock the Vote actually got more than 110,000 subscribers to register in total. It’s no secret that millennials have a hard time making it to the polls, but the Skimm, which specifically targets this demographic, got thousands of them to sign up. How did they do it? Pretty much the same way they get their subscribers to read the daily news, by breaking down the election into a simple, easy-to-read format and conveying the information in an impartial and interesting way.

Obviously, this company has it down. They know their audience well and they know what they are doing. I never thought news could be so interesting, and I sure am happy that somebody found a way to do it. All I’m saying is that I no longer wake up dreading my time spent scrolling the headlines, I actually wake up and look forward to reading through the news. Staying current just got a little bit easier, and who doesn’t like making their life a little easier?

Abby Cousineau is a junior at EMU majoring in public relations and minoring in graphic design and marketing. Abby is currently serving her first year on EMU PRSSA E-board as social media director. She was drawn to social media because it allows her to merge her passions of writing and design. You can usually find her outside any time the weather is nice, or exploring the Ann Arbor restaurant scene. Connect with Abby on Instagram @abcattt.

The guide to successful newsjacking

By: Hope Salyer

Newsjacking can be a great way to gain your client’s public attention, but if done the wrong way, it can do more harm than good. If you are planning to newsjack a story for your client, keep these things in mind.

1. Be timely. (OREO)

Oreo

Source: Forbes

It doesn’t matter how amazing your newsjacking idea is if you’re not timely about it. The reason why Oreo’s ‘Dunk in the Dark’ tweet worked so well is because it was posted while the power was still out during the Super Bowl. If the Oreo team had tweeted this the next day, it wouldn’t have had the same effect.

2. Get creative. (Samsung)

Oscars

Source: Indra PR

Social media is becoming more popular every day. With new apps and platforms constantly being created, users are overloaded with information from companies. That is why it’s so important for a newsjacking idea to be creative. Samsung did a great job of newsjacking the Oscars by having television host Ellen DeGeneres initiate a selfie with a group of celebrities using a Samsung phone. People were talking about the picture for days, and it became the most retweeted photo on Twitter, raking in over one million retweets within an hour.

3. Avoid natural disasters. (Sears)

Sears

Source: The Wire

As a general rule, avoid newsjacking a natural disaster. Sears tweeted a link for people to shop for supplies in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, but received heavy backlash for it. It seemed as though Sears was just trying to be helpful and show those who were affected that they could get everything they needed at Sears, but it came off like they were just trying to make a sale off of the disaster. It would’ve been much better if Sears had provided generators, air mattresses and more for those affected, rather than telling people to buy them.

4. Never when people died. (AT&T)

AT&T

Source: The Huffington Post

If people died, don’t try to newsjack it. AT&T tweeted this photo on the anniversary of the 9/11 Twin Tower attacks to promote a phone. The official AT&T Twitter account was forced to pull the photo within an hour of tweeting it. Many people were outraged, and AT&T tweeted an apology shortly after pulling the photo.

Use your own judgement when thinking about newsjacking something. If you think people would be offended or outraged by it, don’t post it.

Newsjacking, when done correctly, can be a great way to promote your client. However, it can also cause a lot of backlash to your client if done wrong. Always think before you post something, or it may cause more harm than good.

Hope Salyer is a junior public relations major and journalism and communication double minor. Hope is serving as the Chief Financial Officer of EMU PRSSA. This is Hope’s first semester serving for the PRSSA E-board. A Michigan native, she hopes to start her career working for an agency in the Detroit area. Her dream is to become the public relations coordinator for the Detroit Tigers. Contact Hope on Twitter @hsalyer01 or by email hsalyer@emich.edu.

 

Why Canva should be one of the tools you know how to use as a PR professional

By: Rachel Dwornick

Canva

Source: upload.wikimedia.org

As social media continues to grow and expand, PR professionals are faced with new challenges to solve and tasks to complete. One amazing and free website I recently learned about in one of my public relations classes is Canva. This awesome website lets you create graphics with ease.

For someone who has never had any graphic design experience, creating graphics scared me. Canva is a great website for people with little to no experience when it comes to creating graphics. First, let’s start off with what I feel is one of the most important features of Canva.

Canva has templates for you, which are sized properly for whatever platform you may need a graphic for. For example, if you are looking to make a graphic for Facebook there is a template for Facebook posts or Facebook Cover Photos. The same concept applies to Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr. You can create your own custom dimensions if needed. Along with social media content they have templates for ads, events, documents, blogging materials and marketing materials.

The next feature that Canva offers that I love happens after you pick your template. You can than pick from a premade design that Canva has created. This is great for someone who as little to no graphic experience because you can simply drag and drop your images and place your text in the layout. They have a ton of great free layouts you can use, as well as some to purchase if you are looking for a specific type of layout.

Another awesome feature Canva offers is the tons of free images/icons they offer. You can simply search what you are looking for in the search box and choose which one you want to use. Some images have a cost but for the most part there is always something you can find for free to use. Or, if you have an image to use, you can upload it to Canva and place it in your layout. Canva also has social media icons that you can use to link your brand’s social media accounts or websites to the graphic.

Finally, when your graphic is complete Canva gives you the option to download it as a PDF, JPG, or PNG. There are so many other great features Canva offers. So, if you haven’t heard of Canva or never used it, go check it out!

Rachel Dwornick is a senior at Eastern Michigan University studying public relations with a minor in communications. She holds the position of Member Relations in PRSSA and is an active member of Alpha Xi Delta. Follow her on Twitter at @racheldwornick.

The usefulness of online portfolios

Source: Design Web Identity

Source: Design Web Identity

Online portfolios are a great tool for PR students to have. Having an online portfolio allows potential employers to see all of your work. It’s also an way to keep track of everything you do. As a student, you can put up your best PR class work.

Online portfolios is also an easy way to submit work samples. You can simply direct them to your site where they can view all of your work. The portfolio site should an include an bio with a resume/experiences, contact information and social media profiles. The url address should be a variation of your legal name, its commonly the first and last name.

Sites that can be useful for creating a portfolio site is WordPress or Wix. Be sure to keep your site updated with your most current work.

Five tips on dressing for success in PR

Source: Resume Planet

Source: Resume Planet

When you attend any interview it’s important to dress for the career you want and not the job you have. It’s important to be overdressed, because it’s the first time you’ll be introduced to the company and you want the interviewer to have a positive impression. After all they say that first impressions are the most important, because it will be what the interviewer will remember the most when considering you for employment.

So now you’ve advanced from being a candidate to being selected for the position, but you’re confused about what you should wear, especially sense the company culture is informal. Further, how do you reflect your personality in how you dress? Considering every company has its own culture it’s important to research the company and ask the interviewee what are the expectations for dressing at your company.

However, here are a couple tips that can help you select the appropriate attire and reflect your personality without being too informal.

  1. Feel comfortable in your clothes: You should always feel comfortable in the clothes that you wear and never dress a particular way, because someone advises you to unless it’s required.
  2. Fit the culture: A company can be informal and have a casual dress code for the office, however when they meet clients they wear more formal attire. It’s important to follow what everyone else is doing and don’t be afraid to stand out with your style. However there is such a thing as standing out to much but, you don’t want to be the talk of the office. If your coworkers dress up to see clients then you should follow their lead.
  3. Follow the leader: If your boss dresses a specific way in the office, however when attending meetings they dress in formal attire you should do the same.
  4. Dress your age: When you’re working in an office it’s important to dress your age and not to fit in. Remember you don’t want to be too informal by wearing articles like flip-flops, because you’re not going to the beach, but to work. Feel free to include minimal accessories with your wardrobe as they tend to reflect your personality and add to your clothes.
  5. Look presentable: When working in Public Relations rather it be a large corporation or an agency it’s important to look your best, because you’re often considered the face of the company or at least the first person people will see.
DeAndre Brown
VP of Community Relations
EMU PRSSA