Tag Archives: PR Tools

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.


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 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.

Ways to gain public relations experience as a college student

Most employers are looking for you to have experience when applying for entry-level positions. Luckily for you there are many ways to gain experience as a public relations student.

Source: 3E Connections

Source: 3E Connections

  1. Complete an internship- it’s required for graduation. Complete as many internships as you can.
  2. Do public relations for a student org- most student orgs have a public relations related position on their leadership board.
  3. Manage social media accounts for department and colleges on campus- check with the marketing department or department head to see if they need some help.
  4. Volunteer to help local non-profits with their public relations efforts- nonprofits often need help. This could also become an internship.

There are many ways to gain public relations as a student. Hint: the more experience you have on your resume, the more favorable your resume will look to hiring managers.

Companies want to hire people that have experience and have demonstrated the ability to apply classroom lessons to real life skills.

Daizchane Baker

Reaching out for internships

Applying to internship postings is great but sometimes there are not a lot of them. Reach out! Contact the agency, company or nonprofit directly. Not every place advertises their internship opportunities. Also, a lot of places are willing to have an intern. You can create your own internship.

Source: Game Informer

Source: Game Informer

Send an email. In the email, start by introducing yourself and education details. Next, explain your interest in doing an internship at the agency, company or nonprofit and ask if they have internships available. Be sure to state when you want to do this internship (i.e. summer or fall).

Make sure to attach your resume. If possible include a cover letter and writing samples. Be patient it can take days or even weeks before you get a response.

Sometimes to land an internship you have to get creative. The worst that can happen is the place responding that they do not have internships available.

Daizchane Baker

Five tips to noticing trends in PR

As budding PR professionals it is imperative that we notice key trends and capitalize on them before they vanish. I’m not just speaking of fashion, but worldly trends. As a student this can be hard. We have many different responsibilities and therefore may not have the time to keep up on trends. Thank goodness for the speed at which technology develops and the production of apps.

Tools that will help you keep up with current trends.

1) Listen to Podcasts
The best time to listen to podcast are while you are at the gym or walking to class. During this time I am in a state where I am able to concentrate on what is being said and evaluate it.

2) Read 50 blogs in 15 minutes
Apps like Pulse allows you to quickly read over blogs. You save articles and websites that are of interest to you via the app and categorize them based on genre.

Source: Customer Think

Source: Customer Think

3) Utilize  Twitter Lists
Twitter lists used to annoy me until I found out one of its important features. It minimizes Twitter. On a smaller scale I am able to read posts directed towards a specific topic. Considering the opportunities, Twitter lists can also be used to follow industry thought leaders and follow bloggers. You can even create private Twitter lists to follow competitors, industry influencers and other people you don’t want your competitors seeing.

4) Follow people on Twitter
This is old fashioned, but it helps! The best way to get info is from the horse’s mouth. Many people receive their news from tweets made by celebrities and other spotlight people. By following them you have the potential to see information first hand.

5) Watch the news
I am not saying you have to wake up at 5 a.m. to watch the early morning show, but it is good to know what is going on in the world. Every morning before classes I turn my television on either channel 2, 4, or 7. I see local and worldly news that is not covered in any application or blogs I view.

How do you keep up with trends?

Gabrielle Burgess-Smith
Vice President

Things Every PR Person Should Be Thankful For

(image courtesy of zazzle.com)

Thanksgiving is around the corner. Grocery stores are filled to the brim with last minute shoppers, recipes will be trending online, and Detroit Lions fans will be bracing themselves for yet another humiliating loss.

Instead of thinking about the things that cause me stress, I am giving thanks to the tools that help me out the most when doing PR projects and assignments.

1. Internet: Hands down, I am grateful for the Internet. Answers are right there at the click of a mouse and the entire world is at your hands. You can communicate easily thanks to email and of course there’s social media.

2. Social Media: Public relations to me, is where businesses and brands interact with clients and vice versa to ensure that everyone is happy. Thanks to social media, you can not only receive praise about your brand, but you can receive criticism. From there, you can explore more about the criticism to ensure that your customer is happy, as well as all of your company’s publics.

3. The AP Stylebook: Makes press release writing a lot less exhausting.

4. Google Calendar: You will never miss an appointment again. Just plug in the appointment online and receive it via phone notification. Genius. Convenient.

5. Small Pads of Paper: Some like Post It Notes; I prefer using small pads of paper to jot my notes down. I use the ones charities send me in the mail when trying to get my donations. So I recycle as well. I like the variety of shape and sizes, each one serves a different purpose.

6. Cell Phone: You can actually use these to call people and say “Hi.”

7. Music: Nothing is more relaxing to me than music in the background while rushing to the finish line of a project’s deadline. It’s calming, soothing, and by golly, nothing says job well done, like celebrating a job well done by blasting a little Spandau Ballet, “I Know This Much is True.” It is quite calming.

8. Red Bull and 5 Hour Energy Shots: I know most people would say Starbucks, but I’m “new school,” I am the liberation. The 5 Hour Energy shots is the espresso to the latte that is my Red Bull. Together, no task is impossible.

9. Day Planner: As much as I love Google Calendar, I love my day planner, that much better. Google Calendar is amazing for short term events, but I love the day planner, because I can just open it up, and see right then and there, what’s coming up for the next weeks or months. Sometimes it takes 30 seconds on my phone to get my events to load, with the day planner, it takes 3 seconds; all I have to do is open it up.

10. PRSSA: I am most thankful for PRSSA. I have made great friends. I have a lot of people I can talk to about this business. I have received opportunity. I have learned so much. Thank you PRSSA! Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Scott Mullin

Elements every press release should have

Photo Courtesy of movingboxdelivery.com

Impact: The press is always searching for ways in which the actions of a public body or company intersect with the lives of its readers/viewers. Thus a story on rising tuition or misuse of taxpayer money generates interest, while a professional honor for a teacher is essentially inside baseball and a hopeless media sell. You need to show how the actions of your company or school potentially affect the outside world in a positive way.

New or innovation: The press always seeks to present new ideas or concepts. Think of the “Hey Martha” effect, where someone would call a friend over to check out a new development or item.

Trends. The press likes to synthesize trends, either bad or good. Obviously, you want to be part of a good trend, such as broad cost saving or curricular or product innovation.

Human narrative: Publications and TV love to portray extreme heroism, perseverance, dishonesty, etc. If you can tell a vivid and compelling narrative story about someone involved in your school, program or company, the organization will benefit by being associated with that fascinating person.

Visual and audio pop: Remember the TV is a visual medium and radio is an audio/issue medium. Your chances of exposure, both good and bad, increase on these channels if vivid pictures or good interview sound bites are part of your approach.

If your press release doesn’t include at least one of these elements, it will be very hard to generate media interest.

Don’t be afraid to tell this to anyone who wants you to write a release and make them think through these variables.

Geoff Larcom
Executive Director, Media Relations
Eastern Michigan University