April Showers Bring May Flowers

Another term is underway and my Strategic PR Communication students are off and blogging. Each chooses a topic within public relations and then blogs mostly on that theme twice a week for seven weeks. The goal is not only to become familiar with blogging, but to begin to build a professional brand, practice writing and connect with the wider public relations world.

Part of the assignment involves posting responses to articles I share, otherwise known as their weekly insPiRation, a name coined by a former student. Searching for the articles is one of my favorite parts of my job. Not only do I learn about new topics, but it pushes me to consume industry news with a different lens, an act I find refreshing.

For example, last term some of the student themes tied to PR included political satire, the Sochi Olympics, humor in branding, feminism and gender issues, and technology. No one was writing about music, but this term two students are. I’ll also now be searching for articles about nutrition, cooking, global public health, the film industry,  social media and craft beer. While both terms several students have been interested in sports and fashion, each student always brings a unique angle or twist to these topics. And while last term I had one student blog about travel & tourism PR, this time I have three.

By the time the term ends in just eight weeks, I’ll be overflowing with connections between these topics and PR news.  And so will my students. What I found last time – and what was so exciting – was that around Week 7 it seemed like I was reading an entirely different group of writers. Blogging two times a week for two months pushes students to develop their own voice, style and expertise. What may seem daunting to them at first yields gorgeous results. So to this new crop of students: I’m eager to see you bloom. In other words, April showers bring May (and June) flowers.

Here’s your first round of insPiRation:

Tourism & technology…
Scribd Adds Lonely Planet Guides to Its Roster (The New York Times)
Even travel guides are going digital. What does this mean for how countries and tourist sites promote themselves? How else is technology/social media changing travel? Will people miss printed travel guides?

Sports & marketing…
Why Can’t Baseball Monetize Its Big Postseason Awards? (Forbes)
What’s better for MLB’s brand: awards named after players or sponsors? Which do you think fans prefer?

Food/nutrition & marketing & consumer influence…
Fake Meats, Finally, Taste Like Chicken (The New York Times)
How have consumer attitudes shifted the “fake” meat market? What happens when the Twitter founders and Bill Gates invest in – and blog – about your product? What are the PR implications of calling your product “fake” meat vs. “plant-based protein”?

Music & crowdsourcing…
Aphex Twin Will Release Rare Unheard Album Thanks to Kickstarter Campaign (The Verge)
Here’s a new twist on how the Internet is continuing to change how music is distributed and promoted. Is Kickstarter a good tool for musicians to use to generate publicity for their work?

Tourism… movie studios…
A Makeover at Universal Studios Hollywood Aims at Disney (The New York Times)
What do you think of Comcast’s strategy? How is the company trying to change Universal’s brand? What’s the relationship between recent movies and theme park promotion?

 Global health… technology… corporate social responsibility…
Helping New Moms, One Text At A Time (The Huffington Post)
How are technology and social media changing health communications? Johnson & Johnson sponsors the program discussed in the article. Smart branding and corporate social responsibility – or conflict of interest?

Writing & Career…
30 Things Every Writer Must Do Before They Turn 30 (Ragan)
Do you agree with any on the list – and if so, why? Are there any that might be useful as you establish your personal brand?

Social media & branding
How Brands Are Using Twitter’s Redesign (Mashable)
How do you think the redesign affects brands’ Twitters? Do you like the redesign? (Examples in the article include McDonald’s, Starbucks, Nike, Zara and Adidas.)

Report: 44% of Twitter Accounts Have Never Sent A Tweet (The Wall Street Journal)
What does this finding mean for businesses? How do you feel about it personally as you build your own social media brand?

Photo Courtesy of zen Sutherland (Flickr Creative Commons)

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