Keeping It Fresh

Students first week of “real” blogging is behind them. Now they’re in the refinement phase for the rest of the term.

How can they keep improving? Here are 7 Steps to Ace Your Next Blog Post and 20 Writing Tips to Avoid Boring Your Readers, both from Ragan, a  PR resource I consult often. (We’ll discuss how the associated infographics fare when we cover infographics in a few weeks.) Also from Ragan, here are 13 Outstanding Blogs and Websites For PR Pros. (Can you tell I really dig Ragan?) Even once your blogroll is set up it’s a good idea to update it periodically as you discover new sources of insPiRation.

Speaking of… below is your insPiRation for the week!

Airlines…
“A Women’s March Leader Was Kicked Off An American Airlines Flight (refinery29)
Pilot Boots New York Activist From American Airlines Flight (NY Daily News)
The facts aren’t all in yet. But for now, is American Airlines handling this PR crisis appropriately? If not, what else should the company do? Which audiences might be particularly offended by this incident? How do previous similar incidents change how AA might respond?

Tourism & Travel & Hospitality…
Cruise Ship Company Offers Same-Sex Wedding Ceremonies At Sea (Mashable)
Is this a good PR move for this company? If some audiences complain, how should the company respond? How can values and PR intertwine? Do you think audience segmentation by identity is a growing trend?

Health Care…
A 2-Year-Old’s Kidney Transplant Was Put on Hold After His Donor Father’s Probation Violation (The Washington Post)
This seems like a PR disaster created by Emory Healthcare. Assuming it is, how might you have argued against its creation if you worked in PR for Emory Healthcare? What would you have pointed out to higher ups? If there is a legitimate reason for the delay that cannot be legally disclosed what would you have said differently if you were Emory’s spokesperson?
Read More…

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On the road again…

IMG_5808

Photo by Kathryn Thier

I’m back.

That means my students are too. In J452 at the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication they blog and I blog. It’s always exciting to watch students take tentative steps toward developing a personal, professional social media presence and then at term’s end see how much their confidence increased and writing improved.

At the same time, this is really just the beginning of finding out who they are professionally. I was reminded of this recently by a blog post shared on Twitter by SOJC alum Mandy Shold. I never taught Mandy, but I did sit on her senior portfolio review presentation panel. Unsurprisingly, she rocked it. As she writes in her blog post, she graduated top of her class and beat out hundreds for her dream internship at a prestigious PR firm. But as she also writes in her blog post, her career took a turn when she wasn’t kept on full-time post internship. To find out what happened read her post. But it’s not spoiling it to say over time she confronted her preconceptions about who she is and what her career was meant to be.

I’m really proud of Mandy (and not just because she’s still blogging long after the assignment ended). College is just the first step toward not just a career, but work fulfillment. My own career has taken many twists and turns, including believing I would quit my job rather than blog. But nobody told me up front that was okay.

So I’m telling you now, J452 students: Don’t expect to ever stop redefining yourself professionally. Read widely. Read to write. For me, that’s not just a strategic message on my Facebook feed; it’s a defining trait. Keep asking yourself, “Who am I, and what do I want? What can I contribute?”

And with that, here’s your first batch of insPiRation to get you started:

Aviation… Travel… Hospitality…
The 9 Healthiest Airports Around The World (well+good)
Do you think Millenials alone are driving the wellness at the airport trend? What other audiences – or business factors – might be driving it? Do any of the amenities seem ridiculous? How can small airports keep up and impress their audiences?

KLM Gave VR Headsets to Budget Airline Passengers So They’d Feel Like They’re On KLM (AdWeek)
Is this smart way to appease a slice of KLM’s audience or not? How might it backfire on KLM? Am I the only person who finds this offensive?

Read More…

Week 7

Courtesy of Google Images

Courtesy of Google Images

This is my last blog of the quarter – and the last insPiRation (see below) I’ll give this group of Strategic Public Relations Communication students. That means next week students are writing their last blog posts of the term.

I wonder what they’re feeling? My guess based on previous classes: relief twinged with sadness with a side of pride. The twice-weekly blogging assignment is typically daunting at first. But then as students find their voices and delve into their theme they typically find it’s not as scary as they feared. They also find that the things they thought they’d blog about they typically don’t. Blogging requires planning, but it also requires flexibility. They realize they can immerse themselves in their passions and PR at the same time, and that in fact PR is hiding (or not) in most issues of the day and industries of the moment.

The main thing students realize is that writing consistently makes you a better writer. No one I know ever continues their blog from this class, despite some grand plans. But what I do hope will continue is the discipline of writing weekly and applying a critical PR lens to what’s going on in the world. I also hope students hold onto the idea that hard work and engagement with learning engenders confidence and that adhering to that cycle can help them be successful after college. And that’s my real final inspiration of the term.

Food…Ad & PR…Entertainment…
Paul Newman Who? Salad Dressing Company Adjusts to Reach Millennials (The New York Times)
What do you think about the new strategy by Newman’s Own to reach millennials? How did Paul Newman set the original standard for celebrity do-gooder projects – and how is it different than such projects by today’s celebrities? Will Millennial foodies flock to Newman’s Own once they know more about it?

Entertainment… Music…
“I Would’ve Voted For Trump.” And With That, Kanye West Begins His 2020 Campaign for President (Quartz.com)
What do you make of Kanye’s comments – serious political beliefs or publicity stunt? How could this affect his relationship with his fans? Will fans who hold different political beliefs respect him for speaking his mind or not? Will fans be confused by these comments which seem contradictory to other comments he’s made about political figures?

Music…
Musician Blasts Racism in Speech, After Receiving ‘Brown People’ Award (Mashable)
How do you think Aaradhna’s reaction to receiving this award will affect (positively or negatively) her relationship with fans and potential fans? Should the NZ Music Awards do some damage control?
Read More…

Week 6

It happens every quarter. Students really hit their stride (whatever hitting their stride means for them).

Right now, they’re finishing up infographics and revising their first round of their corporate internal memos about Samsung’s massive Note7 recall. (Speaking of, what do you think of Tim Cook’s memo to Apple employees following this week’s divisive presidential election?)

At the same time, things get cray cray around Week 9 in a 10-week term.

So J452, as you finish up finish strong. Here’s some more fire for your personal social media efforts, which you’ll need to wrap up and report on soon.

And here’s a fascinating read on the future of internal communications about using Snapchat to engage employees. You will be the ones to develop new strategies like this and change PR, starting in just a few months.

But here’s some short-term insPiRation for your blog’s next week:

Foreign policy…
Weeks After Defeated Deal, Colombia and FARC Rebels Reach A New Peace (NPR)
How should Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos, this year’s Nobel peace prize winner, sell this new deal to the Colombian people? Even if this one is not subject to a referendum, how can he secure legitimacy for this new plan? What should his messages be and which audiences are most critical?

Typesetting machine at Oregon State University's Orange Media Network offices - Kathryn Thier

Typesetting machine at Oregon State University’s Orange Media Network offices – Kathryn Thier

Autos…
VW, Audi Confirm Investigation Into Carbon Dioxide Levels in Some Cares (The Wall Street Journal)
How should VW’s PR team handle this new crisis?

Nonprofits…
10 Nonprofit Twitter Accounts Doing It Right (HubSpot)
Although the organizations profiled are very different (and one isn’t even a nonprofit), what are the commonalities here? In other words, what can other nonprofits learn (big picture) from these ones about engaging their audiences and spreading their messages?
Read More…

Fall #5

I have a black thumb when it comes to design. That why when my students create persuasive infographics it’s always one of my favorite parts of the term. Students always go beyond what they thought they were capable of with this assignment, including the ones, like me who would rather vomit than arrange something.

One of my all-time favorite student infographics was from the first term I taught, created by Kimberly Chin (UO ’14), now an account manager for the Oregon Media Group (The Oregonian | OregonLive) in Portland. It’s simple, arresting and unusually leads with the call to action.

kimchin_infographic

Last spring, some strong student examples included two about the environment –  Keala Verigan’s on e-waste and Sarah Arnell’s on textile waste – and Haley Dowell’s on racial disparities in the U.S. prison population and one on movie ratings.

I can’t wait to see what students come up with this term.

Just for fun: Can you identify the design theme of each of the typewriter infographics in this post?

And here’s your (non-infographic) insPiRation:

Foreign policy…
Why do Diplomats Use This Alien WhatsApp Emoji for Vladimir Putin? (The Guardian)
Beyond the sheer “whoa” factor in this article, what does this trend mean for diplomacy communication? Can you see other ways diplomats could use social media to build consensus and support for their messages? Is there something seamy about this or is this just another example of technology changing communication?

Sports…
Fans’ Favorite Live Sports Requirement? Bandwidth (CNN)
How could sports teams capitalize on these findings to improve their relationship with their publics?

Cosmetics & Skin Care…
Women Doing Their Makeup on the Train Are ‘Ugly,’ Says Japanese Commercial (The Washington Post)
How did an awareness campaign about train etiquette by Tokyu Corp. go so wrong? Do you think the company did its audience research? Since people may have no choice but to ride Tokyo’s trains to work, does the damage to the company’s brand matter?
Read More…

Fall #4

This week I chaired a panel of three editors and executives from three very different news outlets – Oregon Public Broadcasting, the (Klamath Falls) Herald and News, and Por Más Tiempo, the biggest media cooperative of Argentina which publishes Tiempo Argentino – as they discussed how their newsrooms are transforming for the ongoing digital revolution. I had pitched attending the panel to my J452 PR students because I thought they might be curious, from a media relations standpoint, how newsrooms are changing. While the panel discussion focused on journalism rather than public relations, I was struck by how much of what they said had PR overtones. In short, they talked about using digital opportunities to build and maintain relationships with audiences and to define their brand identities. Jan Boyd, director of digital strategy and community engagement at OPB, spoke of how breaking a news story into component parts and pushing it out on various platforms based on audience research was about telling the right story with the right channel at the right time to the right audience, something SOJC’s PR area director Kelli Matthews says when she defines PR. So see, students, I’m not kidding when I say the PR angles are everywhere. And here’s your weekly insPiRation to prove it:

Foreign Policy…
Russia Welcomes Growing Wave of ‘Red Tourists’ From China (The Wall Street Journal)
Discuss how straining East-West ties are playing out in unexpected ways, changing Chinese perception of fashionable tourism. How have Chinese and Russian leaders used foreign policy to shore up tourism, a key economic driver? Is there anything Western powers can do to repair their image as an attractive tourist destination for Chinese travelers?

Sports…
Colin Kaepernick: ‘There’s Nothing That Anybody’s Going to Say That’s Going to Change How I Feel About These Issues’ (The Undefeated)
A lot has been written about Colin Kaepernick’s pre-game protests. But how do you think his image might change if more news outlets carried this larger story, about how ongoing commitment to youth of color and these issues? What’s your take on his statement that “these issues exist whether or not football exists…football just allows a platform to have conversations on a greater extent about these issues”? Do you think the media isn’t telling the story that many fans may respect him for his social stance?

Ad & PR…
Wells Fargo Launches Ad Campaign to Earn Back Customer Trust (Housingwire)
The perfect intersection of ad and PR: an ad campaign specifically focused on repairing a damaged relationship with a company/brand’s key public. Will it work? How could Wells Fargo’s PR department mesh its strategy with the ad department’s strategy here?

Typewriter belonging to SOJC Journalism Instructor Charlie Butler. Thanks, Charlie, for letting me photograph it in your office.


Nonprofits…

55,000 Blood Donors Exposed Online in Red Cross Data Breach (Mashable)
What do you think of the Australian Red Cross’s PR strategy in this crisis communications incident? With data breaches becoming more and more common will donors be more willing to accept the ARC’s claims of accepting responsibility than they might have before similar situations at Target and other businesses in the recent past? Why is safeguarding donor privacy specifically important for the Red Cross to continue its mission?

Cosmetics & Skin Care (and Entertainment… and Music…)
Is Skin-Care the New Designer Collaboration? (Allure)
Why are musicians and other celebrities jumping on the skin care bandwagon (besides money)? Why do celebrities (including Smokey Robinson) need to be lifestyle-brand oriented now for their image? If you are a serious skin care aficionado are you more or less likely to trust a skin care label named after a celebrity? Read More…

Fall 2016 3

This week in class we’ll be discussing one of my favorite topics in PR, corporate social responsibility. And typically it ends up one of students’ favorites, too.

For me, it’s because there are no easy answers when it comes to corporate social responsibility. Most people can agree that doing good is a good thing, but deciding “good for whom” is much harder. Is paying workers in other countries what we’d consider to be incredibly low wages inherently “bad”? What if it helps those workers’ families afford things they never could before? If wages are raised, what if that means low-income Americans can’t buy those products?

I think students enjoy exploring these dilemmas. But also, I think it resonates because studies show Millennials expect businesses to do good. According to a recent Fortune magazine article, “Millennials are more likely than Gen X’Ers and Baby Boomers to say it matters if American businesses give back to society.” Millennials also expect to “shape the giving behavior of brands,” according to Entrepreneur, which creates all sorts of PR opportunities and challenges.

Courtesy of Bookishgifts.com

Courtesy of Bookishgifts.com

By chance, or perhaps because corporate social responsibility issues is really everywhere, many of the insPiRation articles this week touch on it. From alleged “pink washing” by the NFL to a mom of a child with Down Syndrome pressuring OshKosh B’Gosh to make its ads reflect children with disabilities, the news is rife with stories of companies struggling to balance the new triple bottom line: people, planet and profits.

Auto…
Hyperlate: Elon Musk and Tesla Delay Their Next Big Product Launch (Salon)
What effect, if any, do you think this will have on potential Tesla buyers? How do you think the  the publics (customers, investors) of a traditional car company would respond to a delayed product announcement with no real explanation? How does Elon Musk’s and Tesla’s brands buffet the company’s PR? Can other car company execs learn from Musk’s use of Twitter or would that  ring hollow?

Sports…
Breast Cancer Victims Should Be Pissed at Getting More Pink Than Green From NFL (Sporting News)
This article is a great example of how tricky corporate social responsibility is. “Pink washing” is a real thing and this article accuses the NFL of it. So how might the NFL PR team respond? Do you think the NFL should change its strategy around breast cancer awareness month? Discuss the awareness-attitude-action continuum in PR and whether the NFL should react to the ongoing “October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month” or take a different tack focused on action.
Read More…

Fall 2016 2

My students’ first weekly blog posts came in the past few days, which is always one of my favorite parts of the term. When I read their posts for the first few times I get to see who they are, how they think and how they write. I sense their relief at getting these projects off and running, at realizing writing about your passions is fun.

Typewriters, Baker City, Oregon -Kathryn Thier

Typewriters, Baker City, Oregon
-Kathryn Thier

 

At the same time, reading their posts reminded me how hard it is to blog. Finding your voice takes time. Crystallizing the PR angle (the goal of these blogs) is challenging. Learning how long is too long – and how that changes with each post – takes a long time. But that’s why we blog so much and so often in this class. By the end of the term their writing will be transformed. Their ability to see how PR underlies so many issues in the news will skyrocket. Their voices will mature. And so the end of the term is also another one of my favorite parts. So here’s to seven more weeks!

(And yes, I do read more than Mashable, although it doesn’t seem like it based on this week’s insPiRation.)

Nonprofits…
Should You Trust The American Red Cross With Your Donation For Haiti? (The Huffington Post)
How might the American Red Cross try to repair its image in Haiti through its response to Hurricane Matthew’s destruction? Do you think the negative press the American Red Cross received was fair or not? How can nonprofits protect their reputations when they’re held to a different standard than corporations? How damaging to the Red Cross is Edwidge Danticat’s suggestion that people support Haitian organizations instead? What publics will Danticat resonate with?

Pro Sports…
In a Pioneering Moment for the W.N.B.A., Players United in Protests Over Injustices (The New York Times)
What are the PR risks and opportunities for African American athletes who take on police brutality and racial injustice? Is it different for female athletes than male athletes – and why? Does the PR calculus change when it’s across a league versus just one (like Kaepernick) or a few?

Music…
Kaiser Channels Kendrick Lamar To Talk About Depression (Mashable)
Do some research and figure out if Lamar authorized this. If he did, what opportunities and risks might there be for his reputation? If he didn’t, how should he respond to maintain his image and his brand?
Read More…

Fall 2016 1

As I told my students I initially viewed the idea of blogging with deep skepticism. (This was back in the early aughts when blogging as a journalist meant regurgitating stuff from your notebook that didn’t make it into your published story.)

But now blogging is one of my favorite things. I do it each time I teach J452: Strategic Public img_3342Relations Communication at the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication. Each student also blogs, picking a theme tied to an industry or facet of PR that interests them, and also builds and executes and accompanying personal social media strategy. They blog mostly twice a week: one blog post about a topic they choose related to their theme and one in response to a news item about their theme I’ve picked.

That means from fashion to foreign policy and from cosmetics to cars, the students’ themes keep me looking at the news in a new light. Yes, I’m still reading stories about politics, race, sports, celebrities, the media landscape and social issues, but I’m looking for ones that either showcase or hint at the role public relations plays in our world.

This (hopefully) makes students look at the news in a new light, to see the PR everywhere.  In this quarter’s first installment of weekly insPiRation, they’ll find stories that touch on personal brand and image management, company brand, crisis communications, corporate social responsibility, media relations and more.

Take a look:

Autos…Ad & PR…
Trying To Disrupt the Auto Industry With The Onion’s Help (The New York Times)
How are advertising and public relations being combined in service of Elio’s brand and to raise brand awareness? Is a risky strategy like this just what a three-wheeled car company needs or is it a mistake? How does it compare to the PR strategy of another industry disrupter, Tesla? (PS: Who likes regular car commercials anyway?)

Foreign policy…
Antonio Guterres To Be Next UN Secretary General (The Guardian)
Guterres is widely seen as competent and was unanimously chosen, yet his choice was a surprise to many who thought it was a woman’s turn. How can Guterres appeal within his organization and to leaders around the world who either wanted a woman or someone not so vocal about refugees? What credibility does he bring as a spokesman for “the downtrodden” and do you expect him to change public opinion around the world? Is it good or bad for the UN’s mission that secretary general candidates now have to brand themselves and make public appeals for the post?

Foreign policy… fashion…

Kate Middleton’s Tour of Canada: A Designer Scorecard (The New York Times)
How did Kate Middleton use fashion to support Britain’s foreign policy messages on this trip? In other words, what’s the connect between fashion and foreign policy PR? In today’s social media world, why is fashion more important than ever to foreign policy?
Read More…

Season’s end

The end of the quarter is nigh.
That means the last week of my students’ blog (unless they feel so into blogging at this point that they just can’t stop.) Which will totally happen. So my advice, is take it to the next level. One of my favorite blogs, Mac’s List, has great advice this week on 7 Smart Ways to Market Your Social Change Blog, whether or not you blog about nonprofits. We’ve just scratched the surface with blogging – there’s so much more to learn.

Courtesy of Google Images

Courtesy of Google Images

Speaking of learning, as part of the whole blogging thing students also created personal branding social media plans this term. The plans detailed by strategic, tactic and platform the steps they’d take to integrate their social media use and their blog to learn about and show familiarity with their chosen topic as it relates to the PR industry. (If you read my weekly insPiRation links, you can see what topics they chose.) Always, students write ambitious personal social media plans; usually, they find it hard to keep up. That’s part of the point, realizing how much goes into strategic social media. So this week students will reflect on what they learned:
What was challenging? What was useful? Did certain platforms matter more to their industry than they thought? Did they follow their editorial calendar, and if not, why? Which platforms worked as planned for which strategies, and which didn’t? Was something unexpected? What did they learn about strategic social media overall? Read their blogs this week to find out.

Oh, and you can also read their responses to my weekly insPiRation.

K-Thier out. (Mic drop.)

Wine… beverage…
Can the Pop-Top Wine Can Survive Its Faddish Stage? (The Washington Post)
Another week at PRMinders, another wacky rosé story. Why is the pop-top wine going Back to the Future? What role do Millennials and craft beer culture play? What’s the scenario?

Women’s Fitness…
Women Shuts Down Haters With Honest Weight Loss Instagram Photos (Mashable)
How have individuals’ stolen women fitness magazines’ thunder in the age of social media? How can social media promote and encourage, and also discourage women from becoming fit?

Fashion…tech…women’s fitness…
How K-Deer Became an Instagram It-brand (Well+Good)
How did K-Deer use Instagram to break into the athleisurewear phenomenon? Can fashion start-ups beat out lululemon using social media – or is it just because K-Deer’s patterns are just so visually appealing? What do you make of the fact that the founders runs the Instagram?

Read More…

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