Name: Guest Blogger
Bio: BurrellesLuce invites marketing and public relations professionals with valuable information and perspectives to share their thoughts.
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As a university PR instructor, PRSSA Bateman competition and PRSA Silver Anvil I’m going to let you in on a little secret: “raising awareness” doesn’t do anything for your boss. It’s become a lazy way to write objectives that doesn’t help you demonstrate the success that you know you’ve achieved. It’s what you do with that awareness that matters to your organization. You need to move beyond awareness and into real action – and it’s that difficult. All it takes is a slightly different way of looking at what you’re doing.
Think for a moment about how you craft key messages for your target audiences when you’re preparing a PR campaign. Would you use words and terms they don’t understand? Of course not. So why would you do that when communicating with CEOs and other non-communication executives? You need to treat your colleagues like a target audience, because they are one, and can possible have the biggest impact on whether your campaign will succeed or not. You understand the implications of increased awareness, reach, and impressions, but what about your CEO or CFO? Probably not, so it’s up to you to both educate them, and to use terms they understand, namely, dollars and cents.
What are your organization’s business goals? Sales objectives? New accounts? These are what you should be incorporating into your communication goals, because they are results that non-PR managers understand. They have no clue how awareness impacts on what they’re trying to achieve. In the case of nonprofit organizations, this is measured in terms of overall donations made, new donors, additional donations from existing donors, etc. CEOs of for-profit organizations. You can slice and dice it any way you like, but money is the crucial element for all organizations.
If you remember, a couple of years ago the internet and news media were filled with the Ice Bucket Challenge. Seemingly everyone was doing their best to turn themselves into human Popsicles® and to convince others to do the same. It was fun to watch, it was interesting, and it went viral. Within just a few weeks, it was hard to find someone who hadn’t seen at least one video of someone dousing (or being doused) with ice water, especially as celebrities started joining in and ever more elaborate ways to drop the ice and water were dreamed up. Increased awareness? Absolutely. But awareness without action is an empty objective. The whole world can become aware of your mission, as happened with the Ice Bucket Challenge, but if they didn’t convince people to take action beyond the act of dumping ice water on their heads, they’re no better off than they were before.
Now I’m going to let you in on a little secret: we’re human. I know… big surprise. We’re attracted to the shiny things in PR. Who wants to slog through boring plans, when there’s all kinds of bright, shiny tactics just tantalizingly hovering out there, waiting for us? It’s much more fun to film human Popsicles® than it is to develop donation materials. But those donations are what the people at the ALS Association need in order to fund their mission of finding the cause of and a cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and to support ALS patients and their families. Building those donation amounts into your objectives gives you something to work toward and measure how effective your tactics are.
By the simple act of building a forfeiture option into the challenge, allowing those challenged by friends to make a donation to the participating ALS organizations instead of being doused, increased awareness was converted into action, as donations poured in. And dollars and cents are easy to count – especially for CEOs. The New York Times reported on July 27th that the Ice Bucket Challenge raised $115 million for the ALS Association, with $77 million going to research and another $23 million to patient and community services. Even better, the ALS Association just announced that the money raised had funded the discovery of a gene tied to ALS. Those are numbers to make any CEO – and Silver Anvil judge – ecstatic.
Upon graduating from college, you will be on a desperate hunt for a job. You will likely search high and low for something in your field and interview so many times you wonder if you are starting to speak in gibberish about your experience and accomplishments. If you are like most recent graduates, you will end up with a job you took just to have one and questioning if what you studied so long and hard for was even what you wanted.
Have no fear! Better things are on their way.
Here are some things you will want to do at your first job that will help you prepare for the next one:
Always offer to help.
In your first job, you will likely not be given enough tasks to keep you busy right off the bat. New coworkers need to get use to having you around and figure out how it is they can utilize you best. So when you hear a coworker say they need something done but don’t have time, speak up and offer to help out. When there is a task that needs accomplished, offer to do it. Then, when it is time for you to take that job you always wanted, your coworkers will realize how useful you have been…and be a great reference
Always keep track of your contacts.
In college, you have likely met with a lot of really great people and gotten a lot of business cards. Keep in contact with them! Mentors are a great source of advice and jobs. Knowing someone will always speed up the hiring process.
Always focus on the end goal.
While you may be working a job that you don’t want to make your career, you can’t forget what you want in the end. If you want to do social media, but can’t get a job without experience – volunteer to do social media for a nonprofit. Blog for companies that need writers. Keep up with social media trends to make a cover letter stand out with your extensive knowledge.
Always keep up with the field you want to work in.
Companies want to know that you are passionate and knowledgeable, especially considering your age and inexperience, so show them you know your stuff. You will undoubtedly be asked in interviews how you keep up with trends, what blogs you read, or something along the lines of inquiring whether or not you are just working or if you are learning and evolving as a professional. Experience is great, but passion is the icing everyone wants on the cake.
You never know what job you may think you aren’t experience for, but that actually want someone just like you. You may also interview for a job, not get it, but then be called back later!
Ending your first job will be hard, even if you don’t enjoy it. Like any breakup, leaving your first job will be like the end of a bad relationship – you know it is time to go, but all you can remember is the good. Just don’t forget that you must think of the future you in five, ten, or twenty years and where that person will be and ask yourself if you are helping to get there.
Most importantly, don’t forget to leave on good terms. Although this first job wasn’t ideal, the connections you made are vital to that future you. Give two weeks notice, if possible, organize your materials for your replacement, write-up a brief overview of what is yet to be done, if needed, and make sure everyone knows how appreciative you are of the experience.
Even if you can’t see the effect, your next employer will see your experience in your attitude and confidence that only a first job will provide. Your first job helped to break you into the corporate world that you thought you knew and helped you to learn the dynamics of a full time employee. Say thank you.
*Kiley Herndon is a recent graduate of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. She graduated with a degree in English and Applied Communication Studies. SIUE prepared Kiley to take on a job at Madison County Transit and then transition to her current role at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis. Her biggest accomplishment is securing a job post-college and moving into her first apartment in the city.
By Brad Wester
The power of social media is a myth.
You know that great idea you have for your next Facebook post? It’s probably worthless. I’m not trying to be harsh, and I’m not saying you have terrible ideas, but take a moment to think about it. How many people are going to see that post? Hint: not enough.
In 2015, Facebook organic reach dropped from an average of 12% to under 6%. This trend has continued in 2016. Facebook’s organic reach is low and continues to drop. Reaching less than 6% of your audience isn’t powerful. It’s time to stop posting and hoping for the best. It’s time for a plan.
The power of social media has always been a myth. The true power is in the planning – it’s in the development of a social media strategy.
Posting on social media without a strategy means your posts may be missing your targeting audience. You may be posting at the wrong times, creating the wrong content and using the wrong call to actions. You could be using improper tracking methods or relying on the wrong metrics to show success. Without a social media strategy, you’re at risk of wasting time and energy that could be spent more effectively on other parts of your business. You may even be hurting the future success of your Facebook page due to poor performance now.
Having a fully developed social media strategy is essential and should include the ability to track and analyze data in each step. Tracking data will allow you to determine what social networks you should focus on, what type of content is most effective, if it’s more effective to create a wide variety of content, simply promote high performing content to a larger audience and even how much you can afford to spend on promoting your high-performing content.
More social networks, including Instagram and Snapchat, are creating algorithms to determine what content to show users. These algorithms will continue to decrease organic reach and increase competition, driving up the cost of effective social media marketing. Developing a social media strategy will help you rise above your competition.
It’s time to stop posting and start planning.
Brad Wester is a freelance digital marketing consultant specializing in helping small businesses create engaging online experiences that generate leads and drive sales. Follow Brad on Twitter: @wester_brad.
by Emma Hawes
It’s that time of year when you hesitate posting a political gaffe of a candidate in fear that your Facebook page will become a battle ground by posting the article. The truth is election brings out the worst in both parties. Let’s stop fighting for a moment and think about how awesome, and scary, it is that the future of our country is determined by your vote. So not only do your part and vote this election, but do your research over candidates from non-biased sites. It is inevitable that all candidates make mistakes regardless of the party.
Cue the music-
If there’s one mistake we see each year, it’s a political candidate or campaign manager who does not ask an artist to use their music. It just backfires and makes the candidate look bad for not doing their research. Even though a musician might share the same political views they may not want to endorse the candidate. Songwriters need to be included too because Sam Moore changed the lyrics of the Sam and Dave hit “Soul Man” to “Dole man” for Bob Dole. However, the songwriter Isaac Hayes demanded a cease and desists where eventually the song wasn’t played. Enter Sam Moore in 2008, when he asked Barack Obama to quit using “Hold On I’m Coming.” His statement included how his vote was a private matter between him and the ballot box. However, he did perform for Obama later at the 2013 Inaugural Ball.
Whatever you say on the Internet is eternal because a screenshot of a deleted post lives forever. That happened to Bernie Sanders when a tweet was sent out that said, “Greed, fraud, dishonesty and arrogance. These are just some of the adjectives we use to describe Wall Street.” The tweet was deleted because the words were nouns not adjectives. It’s okay if you have to sing a Schoolhouse Rock song while writing to reintegrate basic grammar.
Cruz fired his communication director around two weeks after the Iowa Caucus. Lies were spread about Ben Carson suspending his campaign after Cruz won Iowa and Rubio’s religious beliefs. Just creating a lie about the opposing candidate is bad and if issues arise the first time the director should not even have a second chance.
When celebrating, don’t get crazy–
Before John Kerry won the Democratic ticket in 2004 enter Howard Dean, the man who won the coveted Iowa Caucus. He stated his excitement how he was going to win states then a scream that doomed his political career. Not only does that moment live on YouTube, but Dave Chappelle made a skit, which parodied the scream.
Everyone is important –
Where does one begin on Donald Trump’s comments about different races and women? His comments about reporter Megyn Kelly is just one of the many numerous comments. That is not a smart way to pick your battles considering that according to NY Magazine single women are currently the strongest political force.
However, during a debate, Ted Cruz stated most Americans could not relate to Trump because he had New York Values. Well Cruz’s mistake was just as bad because it is like calling someone from a rural area in Wyoming a country idiot.
Also, as much as you might want to get a certain demographic don’t try to reach out too hard. Hillary Clinton faced flack for the Hispanic community when she posted an article that said “7 ways Hillary Clinton is just like your Abuela.” Soon after the post was made, #notmyabuela became a trending topic on Twitter. Instead, she should have made the post in different languages to reach out to different demographics instead of speaking Spanglish.
by Andrea Gils*
“We all get butterflies before performance. The key is to get the butterflies to fly in formation.” – Virgil Scudder, president, Virigil Scudder and Associates, LLC.
Virgil Scudder, public relations veteran and president of Virgil Scudder and Associates shared his 10 keys to succeed in public speaking during his session in the 2014 Public Relations Society of America International Conference, which took place Oct. 12-14 in Washington, D.C.
Glossophobia, or what most of us know as public speaking or stage fright, has been said to trump death as the biggest global fear. According to a 2001 Gallup poll, which asked more than 1,000 Americans what their biggest fear was, public speaking ranked second (40 percent) after fear of snakes (51 percent). Regardless of the ranking, why do people fear public speaking so much? Is it because of the fear of failing or looking ridiculous? Perhaps.
Some of us don’t have any issues talking with a small crowd but once the audience reaches the three or four figures, our legs start shaking. Whichever your audience size is, practice is by far the best way to overcome the fear to speak in public.
Scudder quoted Mark Twain who said there are two types of speakers in the world: the nervous one and the liar. “If you are not a little nervous when you get up to speak, I’m concerned because it usually means it’s going to be very flat,” Scudder said.
He said that content and delivery are equally important. “People will tell you ‘it’s not what you say but how you say it’ and that’s nonsense,” Scudder said. “It’s both. If you have nothing to say, saying it well doesn’t really help much.”
During his session, Scudder shared the big no-nos you want to avoid when delivering a speech and techniques to effectively trap your audience into your story and keep them engaged from beginning to end.
Scudder and the professionals in the session said that some of the common mistakes speakers make include using jargon; speaking with the wrong tone, pitch and volume; making unconscious gestures; using visuals as crutches instead of as supplements; failing to inform and entertain your audience or worse, not switching to a plan B when you see your audience is no longer engaged.
With our busy lives and increased use of social media and multitasking, our attention span is reduced. Therefore, failing to keep your speech short can hurt your delivery and engagement with the audience.
“Every time you go over 20 minutes, you better have some help with something you are going to demonstrate or show – video, PowerPoint, et cetera,” Scudder said.
As Mark Twain said, “It is an awful death to be talked to death,” so remember this when you draft your speech.
Drafting the speech
Scudder said that when drafting the speech, one should start with an audience analysis and a strategy: what do you want your audience to say, feel or do? “If there’s nothing you can get out of it, don’t do it,” he said. If you can’t connect and share your passion with your audience, you’ll be talking to a wall.
Scudder’s tips on delivery:
Have a punchy line to open and close the speech
With a strong introduction you’ll hook your audience’s attention and with a strong close, they will have a powerful impression of your speech.
Use word pictures
Make your points memorable by thinking, speaking and presenting visually. Choose words that audience can picture in their minds as you speak.
By having ups and downs in pace, pitch and volume you will transfer that energy to the audience and keep listeners interested and awake.
Smile and keep eye contact
Smile when you start unless there is a good reason not to. For eye contact, “look at a tall person, a short one, a man, a woman, someone wearing a bright dress and someone wearing a dark suit and then move it around,” Scudder said.
Use pauses and questions to grab the audience’s attention and slow yourself down
A pause for emphasis or drama will help you keep your audience on the edge of their seats and help you control the speed at which you speak. “When the speaker asks a question, the audience becomes more attentive,” Scudder said.
Let your body speak
Don’t control your hands if that is part of your natural animation.
“Humor should be humble and self-deprecating. If you make fun of yourself, no one gets offended,” Scudder said.
Tell a story
A story makes your speech more personable and if you change your tone and make the right pauses, the audience will pay attention to what you are about to say.
Avoid using crutches and clichés
Do not use terms including “you know,” “like,” “um.” Scudder said that when you use these often it becomes a problem and you lose credibility fast.
The layout of your talking points, of which you should have no more than three, will play a key role in your ability to follow your speech and have a smooth delivery. This includes font size and using only short sentences and words.
How to nail the Q & A
If you know you will have a question and answer session, you should prepare, practice and repeat. Questions allow you to elaborate or clarify a point of interest and good answers are the key to a solid closure. Do not avoid questions and make sure you are well prepared.
Scudder emphasized,“You and your client should never get a significant negative question you are not prepared for.”
So before your next speech remember: grab a camera, record yourself, watch the video, make adjustments and repeat.
“Nothing is more persuasive than a live speaker addressing a live audience, and who then nails the Q and A,” Scudder said.
Which techniques do you employ to be an effective communicator and keep your audience awake, engaged and on their seats until the end?
Andrea Gils is currently PRSA St. Louis Chapter’s Newsletter Editor and social media co-contributor and former PRSSA National Diversity and Ethics Subcommittee member and PRSSA Southeast Chapter Firm Director. She is a public relations and journalism senior at Southeast Missouri State University and you can find her on Twitter @andreagils.