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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…

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…

Week 8 madness

This term my students’ infographics were the strongest as a group I’ve seen. So as they finish up their social media audits and conversations analysis reports and then prepare presentations on them, I thought I’d share an infographic on conquering public speaking anxiety. To me, the best tip here is “RESHIFT: Ask yourself “What does my audience need to know about the topic?” and “How can I ensure they get the information they need?” It dovetails with what we talked about it class, the Presentation Zen method. It’s all about audience and message, baby. Can’t wait to see how you engage us the last day of class.

Courtesy of Google Images

Courtesy of Google Images

Aviation…
Sea-Tac Airpot to Hire 90 Contractors to Help Shrink Security Lines (The Seattle Times)
Sea-Tac is apparently the fastest-growing airport of its size. So what are its PR challenges and opportunities (including long security lines)?

Events… sports…
When a Country in Turmoil Hosts the Olympics (The New York Times)
What special PR challenges are there for a country in turmoil to host an event of this magnitude? How can Brazil allay concerns about Zika and its politics to put its best foot forward to the world?

Sports…race…college sports
ESPN’s The Undefeated Debuts And It’s A Must Read (All Digitocracy)
What do you think of ESPN’s idea for a separate website on sports, race, pop culture and historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs)? What PR goals at ESPN do you think are driving this new journalistic endeavor? Is the criticism about no stories on female or LGBTQ athletes fair or is it too early to level that charge? Do HBCUs get the sports coverage they deserve in other media?

Sports…
Muirfield Removed From British Open Rotation After Vote Against Women (The Wall Street Journal)
Why did the Royal and Ancient take so long to take a stand? Why can golf not afford to offend women now, even regarding the male athlete tours? Is this gender equity?

Sports…Tech…

How Sports Fans Are Using Facebook Reactions (News Whip)
Pick one of the emotions: How could the teams on that list use their standing to their advantage? What PR challenges and opportunities come with fans’ engagement with them on social media? Read More…

Next next

Courtesy of Pinterest

I’ve been grading my students’ corporate social responsibility memos and I’m really impressed. They’ve come up with some great CSR program proposals for major companies. (I may share some at the end of the term.)

In J452, it can seem as if we flit from owned media tactic to owned media tactic. A lot gets crammed into 10 weeks. But I hope each assignment awakens students to new ideas, not just about PR but about the world and how it works. Even if they never work for a corporation’s communications team and never have to write another CSR memo, students will encounter corporate social responsibility as a consumer.

And with corporate social responsibility the stakes are high. The news this week included two of the more interesting CSR efforts I’ve heard of in awhile: Target refusing the reverse its gender inclusive public restroom policy despite a potential consumer boycott and Pfizer blocking its drugs from being used for lethal injections in prisons. In Target’s case, the company inserted itself into the national dialogue about transgender equality, a bold move. In Pfizer’s case, the company took a stand against the death penalty, another fraught issue. Both were ultimately about how the company treats people, one of the three ‘P’s in the triple bottom line (people, planet and profits). The Pfizer case reminded me of a CSR initiative we examined in class: when CVS decided not to sell cigarettes. In these instances, the companies decided – in different ways – that a product was incompatible with their values.

Courtesy of recyclenation.com

Courtesy of recyclenation.com

On that note, here’s the first item of this week’s insPiRation: Nike, a company well-known to UO students, just announced Nike adopts ambitious environmental, workplace goals (The Oregonian).

PS: In keeping with the corporate social responsibility theme, the typewriter pictures this week are all of recycled typewriters. Enjoy!

Environment… fashion…
Nike adopts ambitious environmental, workplace goals (The Oregonian)
What do you think of these new goals? Why is Nike announcing them now? What is the PR impact if the company doesn’t reach them? What about the polyester issue – and Nike recycling it – do consumers care about the ecological impact of their shoes and athletic wear?

Race… Fashion… Ad & PR…
Study Finds That 78% of Models in Fashion Adverts Are White (The Guardian)
Why should the fashion industry include more models of color? Do the labels that do generate goodwill with their audiences?

Courtesy of Beading Gem

Courtesy of Beading Gem

Read More…

Coming ‘Round the Bend

My students’ blogs are really hitting their strides. It’s about to be Week 7 in our 10-week term, and their blogs are showing it. The writing is more focused, more on point… students are seeing the PR angles in their topics, and developing a sense of voice and pace. At the start of the term blogging intimidates some of them, but now many say it’s actually not so bad (and even fun). A large piece of Strategic Writing & Communication is for students to develop a personal brand related to PR through blogging, social media and other class assignments. Some of it’s personal and some of it’s for hypothetical clients. All of it helps them differentiate themselves to future employers. In fact, in Ragan’s 4 Ways Students Can Land PR Internships, three of the four ways are things students in J452 practice: gain practical knowledge even when you don’t have experience, give cover letters your best efforts and know the industry. And I’d argue it teaches them how to do the fourth – do your homework – as well. See, J452 students, I wasn’t kidding: The whole class will help you get ahead.

So here’s this week’s insPiRation. Get to it!

Typewriter displayed at UO's Psychology Department

Typewriter displayed at UO’s Psychology Department

Events…
No One Wants to Go to DiBlasio’s Birthday Party (The New York Post)
What should PR pros do when an event itself creates bad PR? How do events planned long in advance fit strategically when conditions change?

Environment…
Clean Air Agency Informs Through Content Curation (Ragan)
What makes the Northwest Clean Air Agency’s brand journalism strategy so smart? What can other environmental governmental agencies learn from it?

Race… Ad & PR…Fashion…
Old Navy Ad Features Interracial Family, Internet Responds in Worst Way, Best Way (The Oregonian)
John McCain’s Son to the ‘Ignorant Racists’ Criticizing an Old Navy Ad With an Interracial Couple: “Eat It” (The Washington Post)
How would you respond (if at all) if you worked for Old Navy’s PR team? Does this help or hurt Old Navy’s brand?

Race…TV & Cinema…
#Broadway So Diverse (Mashable)
What can Hollywood learn from Broadway? How should Broadway capitalize on this to attract new audiences and build its brand?

Tech…race?
Women in Tech Band Together to Track Diversity, After Hours (The New York Times)
How is this group trying to raise awareness, change attitudes and spark action? How does Silicon Valley’s lack of diversity hurt its PR efforts with internal and external audiences?

Read More…

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