Tag Archives: social media

The Acceptance Phase

…oftentimes connected to the “admitting-you-were-wrong” phase.

I realize this may seem like an over-statement, but after successfully resisting for a few years, I’m finally realizing and accepting all of the associated glories of Twitter. Before this semester, I was exceptionally hesitant to take on an additional social media persona. Facebook seemed like enough. “How many life-consuming tech-habits can one have?” I thought. However, despite my strong resistance, it suddenly became necessary to join Twitter as a class requirement (for several Comm. classes, I might add)–a requirement I initially found utterly annoying. For the most part, I maintained a mostly unconvinced mindset, but I set up my account and attempted a few tweets.

Flash forward two months as I find myself staring wide-eyed at my computer screen clicking the “Follow” button frantically. Music, entertainment, food, news, blah blah blah–the categories are endless. And as a result of the unending options, I believe it is accurate to now label myself “Officially Obsessed.” I have heard over and over again how Twitter can be a valuable communication tool once you learn how to truly utilize it. While I might have scoffed at this sermon before, the tables have finally turned. I’ve even caught myself preaching to others about how useful Twitter can be. In fact, I’ve even convinced a few non-believers to join.

In class, we’ve discussed how important Twitter is for Public Relations. I had no problem accepting Twitter as a useful communication tool for companies–it’s hard to ignore blatant evidence–but now I’m realizing how much fun it is from the public’s position. And, frankly, I felt it was an appropriate time to admit it.

Follow me! @secomeaux

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Rally on.

I’ve recently been introduced to a new social media program called Rally. Rally is a brand new program that supports organizational development by offering a next-generation online fundraising platform. Earlier this year, Students of the World (SOW) formed a partnership with Rally and is currently testing out the Beta-platform. So far,the Rally-SOW partnership has yielded a lot of positive results. For instance, in just a few short weeks, Rally helped SOW connect with supporters and raise an impressive amount of money, which was used to bring students from UT and the Cine Institute of Haiti together for a documentary on the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund.

Rally resembles other social media sites like Facebook, but instead of a wall intended mostly for general communication,  Rally allows organizations to customize and promote donation pages. Essentially, it has made it easier for donors and potential donors to locate organizations that interest them and donate money in a quick-easy fashion. The Students of the World page has an ample amount of comments, photos, and video clips that highlight the work they’re doing. By doing this, supporters are kept up-to-date on the organization’s progress. Students of the World is a prime example of Rally’s intended purpose–providing tools for keeping supporters truly involved.

The platform is currently limited to Beta-testers but is expected to open up to everyone very soon.

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Wait, you mean I can’t go to school for forever?

I have yet to decide exactly which company or industry I want to work for/with in the future. However, I’m getting a lot closer to figuring it out. Or, I’m at least starting to understand where my true interests are–I think that’s an incredible start. Currently, I have an internship with a local Austin non-profit called Students of the World (SOW). My title is “Program Management Intern” to be exact, but I’m finding that title umbrellas a wide variety of tasks. Working with a non-profit offers an amazing opportunity for anyone who can get past the unpaid aspect of it. In reality, the fact that you’re not getting paid makes it a lot more fulfilling.

At this point, I’m helping SOW create a successful communication plan. For example, we’re trying to organize a strategic and effective way to utilize all of the different social media tactics. Also, as SOW continues to formulate plans for expansion, my duty (which I kind of appointed myself to do) is to revise the content to better align it with the next chapter. Having taken many communication and writing courses, I’m finding it much easier going about all of these tasks. Maybe easier isn’t the right word, but I at least feel a lot prouder of the work I’m producing because I’m familiar with a lot of it. In PR we’ve talked a lot about social media and how it’s important for organizations/ companies to create objectives for each tactic. I’ve definitely been applying this information when generating ideas for SOW’s strategy. As far as revising content goes, I can thank my Technical Writing professor for helping tremendously with going about that one. (Cheers to all the nit-pickers out there!)

In the future, I plan on continuing to involve myself with the non-profit sector. It’s rewarding when you locate an organization with similar values as yourself, and you’re able to help them generate as much positive influence as possible. That to me is a lot more appealing than taking on a job at an agency or corporation. For anyone else looking to get involved with non-profits, my suggestion is to hop on the internet and start searching. I used internmatch.com, but there are endless ways to get connected. Did you know there are more non-profits than bars and restaurants combined in Austin? And all of them are open and appreciative of any help they can get. Communication majors are extremely valuable  because non-profits have to garner a good amount of attention in order to be successful. Therefore, communication strategies are essential, and who better to help than a communication extraordinaire?

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Are you listening to me??

Imagine this scenario (chances are it’s happened to you at least a few times):

So, you’re ranting on and on to a friend about something. It might be extremely important, life-changing even, but it doesn’t really matter. You finish making your point, whatever it is, and sit back waiting for a response from your friend. However, all they have to offer is the not-so-monumental, “yeah” or the hardly-satisfying, “totally.” You stare back, jaw possibly dropped, and realize they just heard nothing you were saying. We all know how frustrating this can be. After all, it’s nice to be heard, especially when you feel like what you have to say is really worth while.

For PR pros, it’s essential to know how to listen. One of the most important components about PR is that it involves 2-way communication. It’s not enough to just monitor what’s going on. You have to be in tune with what your publics want/need and what they expect. (Click here to see more reasons why listening is important.) Feedback is essential; it helps PR pros alter and improve their strategies. Not to mention, it really builds trust between PR pros and publics when the publics feel like the PR pros genuinely care about what they have to say. Social Media sites like Twitter and Facebook are communication tools that have impacted the PR field tremendously because anyone can respond to a tweet or post. Not only can anyone provide feedback, but the conversation is quick and direct. Like I said, people like to be heard, and with sites like these, they can be. How gratifying!

As a result, relationships form and appropriate goals can be made because of these relationships. (Effective PR strategies incorporate this concept.) The tricky part is figuring out how to measure/evaluate PR strategies. “Measurement evaluates the effectiveness of messaging and provides a way to show whether or not PR actions are achieving objectives” (Learning Communication blog). It’s especially difficult when you’re audience isn’t speaking in digits. In other words, when you’re measuring qualitative data like attitudes. Here’s a link that explains how PR Pros are using Social Media to get results.

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A Message From the Enemy

(Please note that the title is a joke.)

Michael Barnes is the social columnist for The Austin American Statesman and an avid blogger. Check out his blog, Out and About. A few weeks ago, Mr. Barnes was kind enough to come and talk to another class I’m taking this semester, The Austin Equation.  Mr. Barnes is a journalist employed by “Old Media,” but he spent the entirety of the class explaining the greatness of new, social media. Basically, he described social media as a beneficial communication tool because it allows journalists to interact with their readers. With social media, everyone is required to be themselves. However, for PR pros, it’s essential to understand the appropriate ways for interacting with media, especially when trying to pitch a story.

Apparently there are a lot of professionals out there that still have no idea how to really go about utilizing social media. Essentially, when used right, social media makes it a lot easier for PR pros to successfully pitch stories to journalists. Mr. Barnes told us to remember just four words: align, goals, attune, and personalities. What does all of this mean? PR pros need to remember to align their goals with the media personality and know how to attune to different personalities. It seems so simple!

He went on to explain how in reality, treating journalists like human beings is often ignored by professionals, but it is incredibly essential. It’s important to immediately begin having an interaction with the person/personality. Here’s a good strategy he showed us: Start off with a creative tweet just to get the idea out there. Follow it up with an email that’s a little more detailed. Then, pick up the phone and make a call. Finally, top it all off with an actual face-to-face conversation. Although it may seem annoying, this type of persistence apparently works wonders. Unfortunately, we ran out of time for him to go on much further, but I found all of this information to be quite interesting and extremely helpful.

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Did social media kill the press release?

This seems to be the big mystery.

There’s a lot of debating going on about whether or not the traditional press release is effective anymore. Why? Well, one side argues that social media has officially killed it… in the study, with a candle stick.

Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have altered the way people communicate in the 21st century. People now expect to be communicated with in a timely and personal fashion. From e-mails to blogs to the now-trendy “tweet,” fast, 2-way communication has become the norm.

So how does this affect PR ?

Here’s how I see it: Publics want to listen and be heard by the clients/brands they support. Social media has proven to be a great tool for generating these types of relationships. Consumers and stakeholders have many opportunities to interact with the press–And be heard! Because individuals can offer quick and direct feedback, PR pros are able to learn more about their specific audiences and respond appropriately. It’s a win-win situation. (To read more about how social media is changing PR, click here.)

To say that social media has killed the press release seems overly dramatic. It has simply offered more options for communicating with audiences. I think the press release is still an effective communication tool. There’s just more tools to choose from. It’s the PR pro’s responsibility to analyze each situation and determine which medium is the most appropriate to use. (Click here to read about some great uses for press releases today.)

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Some Much Needed Intros.

I guess if I’m going to be rambling about things that I think are relevant and expect anyone to actually hear me out, it’s probably appropriate to go ahead and formally introduce myself:

My name is Sydney Comeaux, and I’m a senior at St. Edward’s University. I’m majoring in Communication, with a course emphasis in Rhetorical and Cultural Studies, and minoring in English Writing and Rhetoric. This semester, I’m taking a lot of courses that I’m really excited about (yes, really). One of these classes is, of course, Intro. to Public Relations.

I haven’t taken any courses so far that focus on PR, Advertising, or Marketing, and if you had asked me a few weeks ago, I’d probably say that they were all the same thing. However, I now know that this isn’t the case at all. I think PR is an interesting field because it promotes creative thinkers with exceptional communication skills and knowledge. It’s not just about getting your company/product/client’s name in a headline. Despite the myth that claims otherwise, all PR isn’t actually good PR (click here for more details).

I’m looking forward to learning how some of the most impressive PR pros go about doing their jobs, especially with things like Twitter and Facebook reshaping the field in many ways (click here to see three interesting PR-related infographics about social media).

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