Tuesday, October 29, 2013

#RealTalk: Crisis Communications

"In the middle of difficulty, lies opportunity."

This is a quote from a session at the PRSSA National Conference called From the Crisis Trenches: Blazing a New Trail in Communications. Speakers from the Mach 1 Group discussed the crisis the Livestrong Foundation was faced with when the Lance Armstrong scandal broke.

No matter how prepared we try to be, crisis will always knock us off balance.  Only so much can be learned about crisis communications in a classroom but it is something that will most likely face all of us one day. Here are some key takeaways that I learned in this PRSSANC session that made me feel more comfortable in my ability to handle a crisis situation.

  • Work your company's mission statement into any answer you're giving the press
  • Think "how can we turn this around?"
  • Remember: we are more than the sum of the actions we take
  • Be sure to show the big picture, not just focus on the problem at hand
  • You always want to be the one to break the news so you can shape it
  • Ethical and transparent communication is essential
Keeping these things in mind when handling a crisis situation will help ensure that it goes as well as possible. 

What tips do you have for dealing with crisis communications?

Monday, October 28, 2013

Public Relations Program Receives Certification At International Conference

The following article was published on SMC News and Events on October 26, 2013.
The public relations industry has converged on Philadelphia this weekend and Temple University is playing a starring role.
The city is playing host to the International Public Relations Society of America Conference Oct. 26-29. A silver-level sponsor of the conference, Temple has secured its place as an important part of the future of public relations. On Saturday, the PR program within the School of Media and Communication’s Department of Strategic Communication has officially earned the PRSA’s Certification in Education for Public Relations. Only 32 other PR programs in the world have received this certification.
“Our public relations program is approaching a level that can be described as exacting, compelling and rigorous,” said Professor Cornelius B. Pratt, department chair.
The certification is something to which future students should be attracted as they search for a college program that fits their needs.
“It should offer a high level of confidence in the quality of the education that we will provide them,” Pratt said.
He said the depth and breadth of the department’s five full-time public relations faculty members, two of whom are accredited in public relations, were key factors in receiving the certification. All five have practical public relations experience.
Brianna Rooney of Ambler, Pa., is a senior in the public relations track. As president of the Temple Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America, she understands what the certification means for her degree.
“Hearing that PRSA is offering its support to our program is beyond exciting,” she said. “It brings great and necessary attention to the program and everything that it offers to students. It is a huge testament to the program, department and school and makes me so proud to be part of something so great.”
Strong SMC presence
Temple will be visible throughout the conference. On Monday, SMC Dean David Boardman will make introductory remarks at the all-conference networking luncheon. This opportunity will enable the new SMC dean to introduce himself to more than 2,500 international communications professionals, and tell them a little bit about Temple and its undergraduate and graduate programs. That same afternoon, adjunct instructor Amanda Bednar will be presenting a workshop on non-profit and association PR at the Public Relations Student Society of America conference, which is being held concurrently with the professional conference.
On Tuesday morning, Heather LaMarre, assistant professor of strategic communication, will present a workshop on “Defining Corporate Character Advocacy on Character Reputation and Relationships” at the professional conference.
More than 40 of SMC’s PR students have registered for the student conference. Members of Temple’s PRSSA chapter, student-run PR firm PRowl Public Relations and the Temple chapter of the Black Public Relations Society have been intimately involved in planning ways to get the most out of the school’s sponsorship. They are staffing tables throughout both conferences, promoting SMC’s graduate and PhD programs. Additionally, student are surveying conference attendees to see what they know about Temple and are exploring future opportunities to speak in classes and perhaps even teach.
Kaitlyn Sutton, PRowl firm director, said she and her fellow students are focused on networking this weekend.
“For many of us, this will be our first time interacting with professionals within the field,” Sutton said. “I think the other main benefit is the chance to explore new realms for the PR world that we may have not thought about before. Being exposed to professional development sessions at such a young age, I feel that we will be gaining an advantage over other students who do not have this opportunity during their college career.”

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Vacationing in Pakistan

Terrorists. Drone strikes. Al-Qaida. These are some of things that may come to mind when you hear the name Pakistan, but what about food, scenery, and ancient ruins? My family is from Pakistan and I’ve been there to visit almost every year. The first thing I can tell you is that you’ll never find better food anywhere in the world. Pakistan, and the people of Pakistan, is so much more than what the world thinks of them as; there aren’t terrorists or extremists hiding around every corner in Pakistan. Instead you’ll find people in need of help.

Ever since the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States of America, Pakistan has been the recipient of millions of dollars of US aid, meant to further the fight against militants and terrorists. Meanwhile, Pakistan has been trying to revitalize its own economy through tourism in order to help its struggling people. Pakistan should put the money towards helping the people, and creating a better name for itself worldwide. Nobody I know has ever wanted to go on vacation in Pakistan because it’s viewed as unsafe; that’s the attitude that the Pakistani government needs to be working to change.

To bring in more tourists and create more money for the economy, Pakistan needs to show people everywhere that it’s safe to visit the country. Pakistan’s Swat Valley used to be a premier vacation area because of its amazing scenery, but now it’s a nearly desolate, former battleground. 

The government needs to convince media and tourism agencies to promote Pakistan as a tourist destination again. Pakistan also needs to get off the USA’s travel warning list. The country needs to put itself into TV ads, onto more travel sites and offer deals and packages as incentive for people to visit. Once locals start returning, Pakistan can show the rest of the world that it’s safe to visit. 

There are plenty of people who want to see what Pakistan is like because it’s so different from the USA. People want to sample the amazing food, or explore the huge excavation sites of ancient ruins. Whatever your interest, there’s something waiting for you to discover in Pakistan.  They just need to brand themselves a little better in order to get you there.

This guest blog post was written by PRowl Staff Member Faiz Mandviwalla.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Ways To Embrace Your Audience

Blogging is about interaction.  While it’s great to deliver fantastic content, or have a brilliant style of writing, it’s seemingly useless if you don’t have strong followers to communicate with.  The purpose of blogging is to convey information to your readers and encourage conversation.  It is imperative, then, as a blogger, to make those who interact with you a part of your community.

Getting readers to engage with your blog seems easy, right?  Well, it can be.  There are several tips suggested toward effectively embracing your audience.  I thought it would be fun to explore a few. 

1. Encourage Comments and Forums
While it may seem “Blogging 101”, comments and forums are the simplest means of obtaining audience participation.  You have to get your audience talking, and encouraging comments is the easiest way to do so.  For example, your entire post can be based on a question (i.e. “Why Do We Blog?”).  Questions lead readers to interpret their own opinions on what you have just written and will encourage them to form their own opinions.   Comments and forum space are a rudimentary principle that should be engraved in the minds of all bloggers.  

2.  An “Ask The Author” Box
Utilizing an ask box unites your audience with yourself as the writer.  If audience members need clarification on misleading information or want a comment answered, an ask box is the best go about doing this.  Readers can get their questions directly answered from you, which translates to more audience interaction as a communal effort. 

3.  Utilize Social Media
    Ah yes, but where would audience interaction be without good ole’ social media?  While it’s easy to get confused by all the various social media platforms available, as long as you focus on the “social” part of it all, you’ll do just fine.  If you receive emails, tweets, or comments from readers, ensure a response is granted.  Include a personal touch by utilizing RTs and replies , keyword being personal.  You want your readers to WANT to come back to your site.  As social media relationships grow stronger, your audience gets wider!

While you’re working on actively engaging your audience it’s also important not to lose sight of yourself and your vision as a blogger.  Don’t get too wrapped up in whoever you think your audience wants you to be.  Make sure you maintain true to your values.  That’s why they came to you in the first place. 

This guest blog post was written by PRowl Staff Member Emily O'Connell.

Friday, October 25, 2013

#PRSSANC Essentials You May Have Forgotten

After an extremely hectic past few weeks, the big event we have all been waiting for is finally here! PRSSA National Conference has officially begun! 

With a jam-packed weekend ahead of us all, here are a few essentials to keep handy this weekend that you may have forgotten about: 

Phone Charger (make sure you personalize it!)
We all know that we are Tweet-aholics. Be sure to carry around a charger to ensure that you can stay connected with the social media world! Make sure you personalize it though, or it may get lost in the sea of chargers. 

Paper cuts and blisters - need I say more?

Networking involves a LOT of chit-chatting. Pack a travel-size bottle of Motrin just in case you feel a splitting headache coming on. 

Hand Sanitizer
It's flu season! Better to be safe than sorry. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

PRSSANC Professional Development Workshops

As we know, at the PRSSA national conference there will be a variety of programs and diverse topics that are available for participants. From tips on pitching to the media to insights on Fashion PR, PRSSA touched on every corner of the PR world and also fulfilled the PR public's needs by providing beneficial information.

In the Professional development workshops, the one segment that caught my attention is the Perspective From large and Small Organizations: Association and Nonprofit Public Relations. As Nonprofit Public Relations sector continue to grow and develop, I believe this workshop will bring necessary information to us, college students. One of the presenters, Amanda Bednar, has more than 13 years of communication and marketing experience in the nonprofit and higher education sector. With her experience, knowledge and dedication to the communications field, your intellect is sure to develop.

Are there any other workshops that caught your attention?  We will like to know!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Explore Philadelphia during PRSSANC!

The City of Philadelphia will soon be flooded with current and aspiring PR professionals from across the nation, all gathering for PRSSA's National Conference as well as PRSA's International Conference. Visitors have definitely hit the jackpot when it comes to cities to visit. Philadelphia has something for everyone, and there is rarely a dull moment in the city of brotherly love.

If you are attending one of the conferences this weekend and looking for things to do around Philly, here are a few spots you should hit:

  • Reading Terminal Market, located on 12th and Arch streets has a variety of foods from savory barbecues to fresh produce. The Terminal is home to one of the oldest farmer's markets in the city, and has everything you need to fill up between sessions!
  • If you're looking to grab an international treat that won't break the bank, head over to Chinatown, which begins on 10th and Arch at the friendship gate. You'll be able to walk through culture and find delicious meals on nearly every block.
  • If you're looking for more of a sit down meal, head to the Midtown Village neighborhood (and stop by Skai Blue Media to say hello to Philadelphia PR and Multimedia Pro Rakia Reynolds). Midtown Village runs down 12th and 13th streets from Chestnut Street to Locust Street and has plenty of food stops! From popular places like El Vez to smaller restaurants, there is sure to be a menu for everyone. 
Historic Philly
  • The Constitution Center is a great place to start your journey through Historic Philadelphia. You can walk through Signer's Hall and take pictures with statues of the signers of the Constitution, or enjoy their newest feature exhibit: Capture The Moment: The Pulitzer Prize Photographs.
  • The Liberty Bell is located right across the street from the Constitution Center. If you have a shorter break but still want to get some history in, I recommend starting here.
  • If you have a bit of a longer break and want to extend the history lesson, walk across the street from the Liberty Bell over to Independence Hall. Tickets are required for admission, but free walk up tickets are available at the Independence Visitor Center starting at 8:30am.
For Incredible Philly Photos
  • For a great picture of the Philadelphia Skyline, head over to The Art Museum Steps! The Art Museum is located on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and is only a few blocks away from public transportation. I recommend waiting until the sun goes down, to give your photo the Philly flare that all of your friends will envy.
  • Grab a friend to head to Love Park (pictured above) to snap a photo in front of the infamous sign! Love Park is located on John F. Kennedy Blvd and is very easy to get to via the subway or bus.
  • For photos of city night life or busy city streets, head to Rittenhouse Row. Rittenhouse Row is located on S. 18th street and has everything from small shops and cafes to Rittenhouse Square, a small park right in the heart of the city. This location is guaranteed to give your photos that city flare!
Are you attending PRSSA National Conference or PRSA International Conference? Which Philadelphia sights are you most excited to visit?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Perfect Match: PRSSANC Student-Run Firm Workshop

The count down to the PRSSA National Conference is officially in the single digits and I couldn't be more excited.  I'm looking forward to meeting other eager PR students and industry professionals and obviously I'm beyond thrilled about the Gatsby-themed welcome night celebration, but I'm also really excited about the workshops and lectures that I'm going to attend. One that I'm particularly interested (and I'm sure you can guess why) is the student-run firm workshop.

The workshop is slated to provide information about all aspects of a student-run firm.  Here are some highlights listed in the brochure for national conference:

  • Attendees will hear from a panel of current firm directors, PRSA representatives, and Nationally Affiliated firm directors
  • Topics will range from how to start a student-run firm to how to apply for national affiliation
  • Another crucial topic of discussion about how to build your firms relationship with PRSA
I think my excitement is understandable.

Which PRSSANC workshop or event are you most looking forward to?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Is Graduate School Essential For PR Students?

I’m often asked by students if they should attend graduate school after receiving their undergraduate degree.  As with many things in life, the answer is often “it depends.”  It depends on what kind of career a student envisions for his or herself.  Is a graduate degree absolutely required to practice public relations?  No.  Is it advisable?  If you someday want to be offering strategic counsel to CEOs, senior executives and clients, and be valued as an experienced and knowledgeable communications counselor, then yes.

As the field of public relations becomes more complex, and the rate of change – technological and otherwise – increases, more education is always better.  In many organizations, for-profit and non-profit alike, public relations is already seen as a strategic function, not just the department writing news releases and staging events.  In order to fulfill the strategic role public relations professionals are increasingly being called upon to meet, a graduate degree is becoming more necessary.

A growing trend is online graduate degrees.  More universities are offering this option for the busy working professional or for those who can’t attend on-campus classrooms.  Online programs offer the flexibility of doing the work on your schedule, but they also demand a lot of self-discipline and time management skills.  Some programs are strictly online and a student may never visit the actual campus, while others demand some time on campus, such as one weekend per semester.  It’s advisable to check out each program’s individual criteria for applying and requirements.

At Temple, we offer a number of graduate degrees in the field of communications.  They include a Master of Arts in Media Studies and Production, Master of Journalism, Master of Science in Communication Management, Master of Science in Globalization and Development Communication, and a Ph.D. program in Media and Communication.  These graduate programs have been growing, bringing together students and working professionals from all kinds of organizations and industries, from corporate to non-profit, from healthcare to cable television.  In addition, an increasing number of international students are enrolled, bringing their own unique perspectives and set of cultural norms to in-class discussions. 

Currently more than 200 graduate students pursue professional and scholarly opportunities preparing for further research and doctoral work, or for furthering their careers in media, communications policy, communications management, and production.  For more information, visit http://smc.temple.edu/graduate.

This guest blog post was written by PRowl and Temple PRSSA Advisor Gregg Feistman. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Staying On The Right Track

Lately I have felt like nothing has gone my way. Whether it is in school, work or my personal life, I have been feeling like I just can’t win. Although I was feeling down and not myself, I realized complaining and not tackling my problems only makes matters worse. If I wanted to succeed, I needed to get out of this funk!

Below are tips PR students should know in order to stay on the right track to success, taken from PR Daily:

1. Balance- Whatever you do, do not spread yourself too thin. It may be easy to sign up for a number of activities but the work you do in the activities is what makes a difference. Show up to every activity and event like it’s your first and only.

2. Process is not progress- Hard work goes a long way, but is what you’re doing getting you the results you worked for? Clients and employers like to see results, not just the “work” you’ve done. Keep a mindset of what you want to accomplish, and do it. 

3. Done is better than perfect- It’s good to be your worst critic and a perfectionist at times. But don’t let your perfectionist ways hold you back. You need to be confident in your work so you have the ability to knock out your next project.

4. Sit at the table- It is important to stand out from others instead of just blending in. Build relationships with people you’ve never met and make an impression that will last. Always remember: A little bit goes a long way.

Ultimately, do not think your problems are the end of the world. Take your problems one day at a time and work through them. Prove yourself wrong and learn from the situation to be better and do better. The right track is always out there; you just need to decide if you’re willing to take it.

This guest blog post was written by PRowl Staff Member Amanda White.