April 30, 2007

Best Practices in Public Relations!

This semester has flown by! From our first advanced communication class until now our goal was to collect a list of the best public relations practices. Here is the list that I have compiled.

(1) Knowledge of business operations - If you don’t know how a business works and especially, how it makes money, you cannot succeed in PR. Period. Public perception is the ultimate referendum on good business operations or the ultimate check against poor operations. You need to be in a position to know your client’s business as well as the client does in order to advocate and deliver.

(2) Personal relationships – Smart content and distribution only get you so far. For best results, it is always who you know. Everything else is a cold call. That’s right: you’re a whore on Information Blvd. whispering “Hey baby, want some sugar?” at passing journalists. This supports what every class speaker has said. Networking is vital. Our last speaker Ms. Stacy Gaswirth of the Shelton Group PR emphasized how crucial networking was.

(3) Knowledge of consumer behavior — No consumers, no business. Wrong consumers, no business. Who target consumers are, how they think and how to reach them — especially on the Internet — is the lynchpin of PR.
Some factors that need to be considered are:
1) The psychology of how consumers think, feel, reason, and select between different alternatives.
2) The the psychology of how the consumer is influenced by his or her environment
3) The behavior of consumers while shopping or making other marketing decisions
4) Limitations in consumer knowledge or information processing abilities influence decisions and marketing outcome
5) How consumer motivation and decision strategies differ between products that differ in their level of importance or interest that they entail for the consumer
6)How marketers can adapt and improve their marketing campaigns and marketing strategies to more effectively reach the consumer.

(4) Strategy – If you’re not strategic, you’re simply tactical. Anyone can be tactical — it’s called telemarketing — or spamming. You’ll win some battles but always lose the war for media and consumer attention. No one plans to fail, they fail to plan. In PR one must devolop plans for crisis time.

(5) A great attitude-“If you think you can or can’t, you’re right” — Henry Ford. A can-do attitude is simply unchanneled passion. A great attitude builds confidence and trust, even if the end result is a loss. You always get hired on attitude, not skill. Being in the public relations field can be extremely stressful and those who succeed and rise to the top generally have the best attitudes and adapt well to stress.

(6) Journalism skills – PR pros are essentially corporate journalists with sales responsibilities. You have to think and write like journalists in order to out-think them and write stories they want to write themselves. This is why the best PR pros are generally former journalists, especially those who go to work for major corporations. Ms. Gaswirth is a prime example. This also proves Professor Flournoy's point on how crucial writing is to be successful in public relations.

(7) Rhetoric and negotiation skills — You need to know how to argue well and properly break down an argument into premises and conclusions. You need to know how to negotiate (fight) beyond one round. And to play poker and call bulls***. This is a sure-fire recipe for another important quality: thick skin. In public relations you must know

(8) Focus — PR is a non-linear, fast paced business with an ever-changing environment. It requires a lot of juggling — the kind with fire sticks. Good “jugglers” must focus on tasks at hand, stay calm and organized and know when to switch gears.

(9) Research- You must know everything about a person or a corporation before you take them on as your client. By doing research you can learn a lot about you client that you would have never known. I think this might be the second best PR tip after Networking.

(10) Blogging- Blogs are being incorpated in most organizations today. Another class speaker and CEO of IdeaGrove PR, Scott Baradell, spoke about how crucial blogging is. He started out as an avid blogger. You can use blogs as a public forum for discussion about news, events and products. Blogs are a tool that can be used to postion yourself as an expert and your company as a leader in your industry. Blogs can be used to build trust with your readers, stop the spread of false rumors, respond honestly to criticism and nip crisis in the bud before it gets out of hand. (Example, As discussed in class about the noki chocolates. Someone was blogging negative stuff about the chocolates and the company finally went bankrupt.) Finally, blogs enable you to tap into conversations already taking place about your company, industry and competitors. One speaker, Katherine Smith of Visible Technologies, introduced our class to TruCast which enables you to track and analyze blogs.

April 13, 2007

Entrepreneurs...A New Trend?

Recently, our advanced communication skills class teamed up with http://www.look-look.com, a California based trend-setting company. Our project was to identify a new trend on the Southern Methodist University campus: Entrepreneurs.

From firsthand experience, starting your own business requires a lot of cash flow. My sister recently launched a denim line, Fortune Denim, and if it was not for the help of my mom in regards to money, she would not have been able to start her business. Therefore, SMU students have an advantage over other schools because our campus of 11,000 students located in the wealthy Highland Park area have many students that come from families with above average wealth.

As I was browsing through the Internet I came across a site that affirms my statement that SMU is full of rich kids. http://www.urbandictionary.com allows you to type in your school’s name and it shows you what people think of it. I typed in SMU and here are some of the things I came up with: “Southern Methodist University... a place where the women are perfect, the cars are gleaming new, the boys are frat and the money flows like the David Yurman during rush week,” and “A private school in Dallas filled with snobby, rich kids who base their life on their material possessions and obsess over attire and transportation....That girl is so SMU, she drives a BMW, is carrying a Prada purse, and only got in because her dad paid for that building.”

Look-Look asked our class to give feed back on these three questions:

1)How and where have you seen New Entrepreneurs in your world?

Being a senior at SMU I have had many encounters with “New Entrepreneurs.” Some of them have been quite recent.

One of my good friends and former SMU student, Laura Bush, opened up her first boutique shop L. Bartlett in West Village upon graduating from SMU last May. You can visit her store’s website at http://www.lbartlett.com and receive a coupon for $25.00 off.

I recently also met another SMU student at Fashion Industry Gallery in downtown, Dallas. She had a booth set up at the show and her jewelry really caught my eye. Lindsey Marie makes her own line of fashion jewelry using mainly pearls and natural stones. You can visit her website at http://www.lindseymarie.com

I also have seen my sister’s struggles and successes in launching her own denim line. We have talked about it in depth and she has always said that without my mom’s monetary help she would not have been able to succeed in today’s dog-eat-dog society. You can check out her jeans at http://www.fortunedenim.com

2) Do you see a shift toward a certain type of attitude toward work?

I see more of a lazy attitude among students today. I see a group of people that do not want to be controlled or told what to do by someone in authority. At SMU many students’ parents own businesses or they are at the top of a corporation. I think that many students want to follow their parent’s success stories and go into business themselves because they have seen how successful their parents are. I think that SMU students have it a lot easier than most people in society because we have parents that are able to fund our endeavors.

Everyone in my family is an entrepreneur and one day upon graduating from graduate school I hope to start my own business and follow in the footsteps of my family.
According to Fortune magazine, a group of 1,000 college students were polled and 63.5% of them wanted to start their own business following graduation.

3)How do you think this will change business in the future, if at all?

I don’t believe if this so-called "trend" will necessarily change business in the future. Young entrepreneurs have been around for a long time. I have not seen a strong surge in entrepreneurship lately so I really would not regard it as a trend.

I think we learn enough skill sets during school that make us extremely capable of running our own business. We are definitely more in-tune to technological advances than our parents and therefore able to efficiently globalize and run a company.

With our economy somewhat in a slump right now, I think there will be much less of a desire for entrepreneurs because ultimately their key to success is cash flow.

Just like our last class speaker, Katherine Smith said, “You mush have money to start your own business.”

March 23, 2007

General Motors Case Study

I focused on a General Motors case study that consisted of GM hiring a blog set-up company, MS&L Blogworks, in order to set up a corporate blog for General Motors. This is the first automotive giant to incorporate a blog into their business strategy.

The blog launched in January 2005. It allowed GM’s Vice Chairman Bob Lutz and other GM executives to voice their opinions and challenge readers to take a new look at GM cars and trucks.

The blog has since received numerous hits and much attention from PR practitioners and press. The blog was made in order to increase communications with General Motors and its customers.

You might be wondering, how did the blog draw so many people in? Well, GM sent six e-mails to high-profile bloggers and from there word spread fast. Since then, the blog has constantly been updated with posts and even some podcasts. The blog also showcases new vehicles that the public has not seen.

So far, the blog has been a great success, but has not significantly increased the sales of their automobiles. However, GM hopes that this blog will bring back lost customers in the long run.

General Motors, still, is the only carmaker to have a public blog. Their media hits have been impressive and GM has received much press from: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, U.S. News, The Financial Times, BusinessWeek, and PRWeek. This truly goes to show that blogging in the corporate world is a hot topic in the press world.

Due to the success of GM’s blog, I believe that more automakers will jump on the bandwagon and create their own blogsites.

Check out GM’s blog, “FastLane”

March 9, 2007

Spring Break

Currently in Los Angeles for Spring Break! Check back soon for a new posting!

February 23, 2007

Blog for Heal Magazine

One of the main objectives for the “Heal Magazine Blog” is to provide a forum that all cancer survivors can benefit from to improve the quality of their lives after diagnosis. The blog should have a reoccurring theme of healing faster, better and stronger.

The blog should have discussions and categories that talk about nutrition and exercise, setting goals for healing, prioritizing, stress relief, spirituality, their emotions, moods and how they are fighting fatigue. The blog should be extremely positive. It is a blog that should provide survivors with more than hope through a community of support, compassion and love.

The blog itself should be warm and inviting, pictures are always good as well as vibrant colors. Dark colors should not be used because this is not seen as a somber time since this is a positive blog.

On the http://blog.healthtalk.com/breast-cancer/life-with-breast-cancer/ they have a link called Ask the Doctor and I really like this aspect because it is comforting for many people to know that there is a doctor that is there 24 hours to answer your questions related to cancer.

Creating a community requires frequent reading and commenting on other people’s blogs. The Heal blog should be focused on making connections, supporting each other and celebrating cancer victories. Battling cancer is a whirlwind of emotions, it is something that does not disappear overnight. People inflicted with cancer go through a long, arduous, and sometimes unsuccessful treatment process. No one should be reminded of the struggles they went through to become a survivor, but this blog should be a blog appreciating a fresh start to their long life.

It would be nice if the blog could also attract well-known cancer survivors to blog on our Heal blog. Many celebrities such as actress Fran Drescher (uterine cancer), TV reporter Sam Donaldson (melanoma), and comedian Tom Green (testicular cancer) have been blogging on Yahoo! Health. Check out the link at http://health.yahoo.com/blog-for-hope/

On another note, http://www.blogforacure.com/ is a really nice site. It is a free blogging service for all cancer survivors. It allows cancer survivors a way to document their battle with cancer and give thanks to life. It provides pictures of the survivors that you can click on and read their blogs. Although this is not a community, it is still a unique idea.

Another good cancer community blog is: http://www.thecancerblog.com/