Cooperation and Collaboration

This semester was difficult.  I faced many obstacles personally and academically; however, I firmly believe the campaign experience has been an asset to my collegiate career and will be an advantage for my future.  Looking back at the last 12 weeks, I am pleasantly surprised at what has been accomplished. 

Working with 6+ Solutions often reminds of the importance of team work.  Any campaign group can attest that we are only as strong as our weakest link and that without cooperation and collaboration the large-scale project would not be possible. 

Every person in MC 4005 has (hopefully) written press releases, created brochures, developed strategic social media plans, planned and executed events.  Considering our past experience, I believe that MC 4005 is less about what you produce for a client and, instead, is about working with a real client and dealing with real problems that occur in the public relations world every day.   Completing a strong campaign requires all six participants to set common goals and develop plans to reach these goals.  Personally, I feel that 6+ Solutions exemplifies a group who is willing to refocus on the established goals and brainstorm and evaluate new means to reach them. 

Twelve weeks ago I wrote my first blog and discussed 6+ Solutions first client meeting.  I explained the importance of my social media temperature and briefly outlined my personal goals for the semester and 6+ Solutions’ goals for our campaign. 

It would only be fitting to end my last blog by evaluating my own and 6+ Solutions’ successes and shortcomings.

First, I set the goal of improving my social media temperature.  I have joined LinkedIn and have revamped my thought process on Twitter.  I have tweeted more and I began following more news and information sources for the public relations field.  Realistically, I need to continue improving my social media temperature, but I do feel that I have started making progress on my goal.

In my first blog I explained that 6+ Solutions would be helping GaitWay with three events.  I am proud to say that we have completed work for five events for the non-profit.  6+ Solutions planned and executed four events- a ribbon cutting, and fundraising dinners at three restaurants- and assisted planning and produced promotional pieces for a fifth event.  Personally, I believe that 6+ Solutions has met our goals set in January.  Our set out to positively impact GaitWay as an organization and I think our hard work and perseverance enabled us to be successful.  As I move forward into the last few weeks of my undergraduate career, I am proud of my work and I am proud of the campaign produced by 6+ Solutions.

If you would like to find out more about me or my campaign add me on Facebook or Linked In and follow me on Twitter.

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“Just Say GaitWay”- The Last Four Weeks!

After the success of the Ribbon Cutting, 6+ Solutions encountered a few obstacles causing our group to reevaluate our approach to the last four weeks of campaigns.  Much discussion and time led 6+ Solutions to resolve to focus on our “Just Say GaitWay- A Food Crawl” campaign. 

“Just Say GaitWay” features three restaurant fundraisers throughout the month of April.  6+ Solutions felt that GaitWay needed to focus on name recognition and overall mission awareness in addition to the GaitWay Board Member’s unfaltering desire to fundraise.  Hosting restaurant fundraisers seemed to be the perfect solution.  6+ Solutions believes that taping into the restaurants established markets and utilizing their communication channels would be an effective choice for GaitWay.

Reginelli’s Pizzeria, California Pizza Kitchen and Mestizo graciously accepted our requests to host fundraiser for GaitWay.  On Wednesday, April 4th, Reginelli’s diners can request 10% of their tickets be donated to GaitWay.  On Monday, April 16th, CPK diners can turn in a flier for 20% of their tickets to be donated.  On Monday, April 23rd, Mestizo’s diners can request 10% of their tickets to be donated to GaitWay.  6+ Solutions hopes to raise money for GaitWay, but we are viewing the food crawl as an opportunity to raise awareness and hopefully increase GaitWay’s presence in the social media world.

6+ Solutions often discusses GaitWay’s presence in today’s tech-savvy world.  Everyone has a Facebook and a Twitter, but how can a non-profit standout in all the social media clutter?  Much like my personal social media temperature, GaitWay’s started out very, very cold.  However; thanks to Caitlin Switzer GaitWay now has a fun, approachable Facebook and an active Twitter.  Now that GaitWay is present in social media, 6+ Solutions desperately wants to develop a strong and engaged following.  Finding ways to reach a fan base seems to be difficult but hopefully getting people to “Just Say GaitWay” will cause them to like GaitWay on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Honestly, I have mixed feelings moving into the last four weeks of the public relations campaign experience.  I am ecstatic at the amazing work that 6+ Solutions has produced.  I am nervous about wrapping up the class.  All in all, this experience truly reminded me of the importance of communication and perseverance.  Personally, I am excited to put on “Just Say GaitWay” and finish campaigns with renewed enthusiasm and a positive attitude.

If you would like more information on me you can find me on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

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Isn’t Public Relations Just Planning Events Anyway?

One of my past instructors at the Manship School of Mass Communication showed clips of public relations professionals as they are portrayed in the media.  The lecture pointed out how many individuals believe that public relations is throwing parties and “spinning” the facts.  When you think about it, the instructor had a valid point.  Samantha Jones anyone?   Sex and the City may have been a funny and semi-educational take on the life of single women, but it did nothing for the public relations field.  No offense to Ms. Jones, but anything to do with her career in the show was planning a party or her “spinning” a situation.  Ms. Jones is certainly not an example of how to exercise professionalism.  At the time, my classmates and I laughed in class discussing the media’s misguided portrayal of our chosen majors, but now I am seeing that many individuals, including professionals, buy into the image of parties and “spinning.”

 

GaitWay Therapeutic Horsemanship hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony on March 7th.  The ceremony celebrated GaitWay’s new location and the strides the organization has taken since 2005.  The event was fabulous!  The weather was perfect.  The food was delicious.  The media was there.  All in all, the ribbon cutting surpassed my expectations.

 

Even though the event was a success, a particular conversation struck me as interesting.   When speaking with a GaitWay Board Member, my future plans came up.  After I expressed my desire to find a job in the public relations field, she asked, “won’t it just be fun to plan parties and events for a living?”  I smiled and politely said that public relations is more than just planning parties and events.  I may have smiled, but thoughts were racing through my mind.  I was caught off guard that my instructor was exactly right.  People really do think everything they see in the media!  This lady really thought I spent the last four years earning a mass communications degree to talk about napkin colors and table runners.

 

Personally, I bet that most of my classmates would agree that we have worked way too hard to get a college degree to simply throw a party.  What about the research?  What about the audience and publics?  What about the message?

 

Even though this post did not have anything to do with social media, I have not forgotten my promise to get a better social media temperature.  Earlier this week I joined Linkedin.  If you would like to find out more about me, you can find me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter or connect with me on Linkedin.

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PR- Practice and Repeat

The past few weeks of working with GaitWay Therapeutic Horsemanship exemplified the rationale behind this blog’s title.  Most of my PR teachers expressed the importance of remaining flexible and open to quick changes while working on a campaign, but until recently I had no idea how serious they were.

During the last four years, I have had to rework, draft, edit, revisit and change many papers, ideas and game plans.  (My Honors Thesis alone went through about twenty drafts, at least I lost count after twenty.)  After all of the revisions over the last three and a half years, I thought I was adaptable and could pretty much handle anything.  (Between the thesis and being a Resident Assistant my collegiate career has been nothing short of colorful.)  However, this campaign is reminding me that PR is truly a practice.  In PR it is not enough  to come up with one idea or one game plan; instead, you have to plan for everything and just when you believe everything is covered and ready to go, repeat the process.

Practice and repeat has become a mindset for me during the last few weeks.  GaitWay recently changed their plans for their spring fundraiser and subsequently 6+ Solutions was forced to change our plans as well.  These changes caused me to rethink the PR process, R.O.P.E.S. or P.I.E, I learned in my time at the Manship School of Mass Communication.  While research, planning, implementation and stewardship are certainly crucial to the PR process, I keep wondering why no one talked about the regroup part of the job.  Regrouping seems to be pivotal in running a successful campaign.  Crisis management, responding to the publics and meeting the client’s needs all hinge on a PR practitioner’s ability to regroup.  In my opinion, the ability to change and redirect focus proves why PR professionals should practice PR and then repeat the practice over and over again.

As 6+ Soultions moves into the latter half of our campaign, our group is nervously excited about practicing PR.  Next Wednesday, we will be hosting a ribbon cutting ceremony at GaitWay’s new location.  The event seems to be shaping up well and 6+ Solutions is excited to be able to utilize our PR planning for the event and social media to help publicize both the ribbon cutting and GaitWay in general.

If you would like to watch myself and 6+ Solutions Practice and Repeat PR with GaitWay click here for GaitWay’s Facebook Page or here for Gaitway’s Twitter.

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Putting Together the Campaign: I Think I Can, I Think I Can…Wait Can I Even Do This?

It feels like everything exploded since my last post.  The semester is definitely underway and between work, school and campaigns I feel like a PR machine.  Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I intern with the YMCA of the Capital Area, and when I am not there it seems that my mind is on campaigns.  Our campaign group, 6+ Solutions, has taken over my phone and email.  All for good reason though, because everyone wants to make sure Shelley and GaitWay’s experience with our group is nothing short of fabulous and effective.

As the writing director for 6+ Solutions my job entails writing, writing and more writing.  Between press releases, fliers and annual reports for the YMCA and press releases, fact sheets and boiler plates for GaitWay, my days are filled with words, sentence structure and grammar.  Luckily, I enjoy working with my AP Stylebook and writing in general.  (If you do not have an AP Stylebook, immediately get one.  It is by far the most helpful writing book I have ever purchased.  Seriously, click here and get one.)  My to-do list currently includes creating copy for pretty much any material GaitWay could imagine- invitations, push cards, fundraising letters, fact sheets, press releases.  Not to mention figuring out the social media I mentioned in my last post.  At least I am in good company, because every member of 6+ Solutions seems to have an ever growing to-do list.

At the conclusion of our last few group meetings, everyone questions if 6+ Solutions is on track to a successful campaign.  We all wonder if “we are doing this right?”  We mull over if the client will like our ideas and pieces.  Over and over again we discuss if we are making the right choices to honor the goal of our campaign.  It feels as though we are all wondering if we can even do this.

Personally, I am beginning to think questioning if you can finish the campaign is part of the whole process.  Maybe, just maybe PR campaigns class is about making sure the answer to the question- can I even do this- is yes.  Clearly, Manship School of Mass Communication students need to believe with certainty that they can create strong, effective public relations campaigns.  If the answer is that we cannot do the campaign, then maybe we should not be Manship graduates come May.  So for now I will stick with saying, “I think I can, I think I can…” and hope that it all works out.

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Social Media Savvy Help Wanted!

The first campaign’s client meeting demonstrated a recent classroom activity’s worth to me.  The activity required each of us to determine our “social media temperature.”  Anyone who knows me would hardly be surprised that I scored a whopping 10.  According to the test, I am barely alive in the social media world.   While I have the usual Facebook and Twitter, I have no idea what half the “digital health indicators” even are.  Normally, I would have trekked on in my almost dead state; however, the first client meeting showed me that I would need to raise my “social media temperature.”

My group, 6+ Solutions, is partnered with GaitWay Therapeutic Horsemanship, a Baton Rouge area nonprofit offering Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies (EAAT) to all ages of the special needs community.  GaitWay offers excellent services to the community.  Currently, the organization is finishing preparations on a new location.  While GaitWay is small, the organization’s representatives are enthusiastic and optimistic about the future.  Shelley Rose serves as 6+ Solutions contact.

6+ Solutions will be aiding in three special events scheduled over the next few months.  Ms. Barry expressed that these special events are the primary focus of the public relations campaign, but she also expressed a desire for more social media.  According to Ms. Barry, social media will be important to help offset their nonprofit sized budget.

As the words came out of Ms. Barry’s mouth, my mind fixated on my measly 10.  She wanted barely alive me to help her?  Luckily, the other members of 6+ Solutions seem to be much more equipped to do so.  Regardless, I now realize I better get my temperature up stat!

You’re probably wondering how I’m going to raise my temperature.  Well, this blog is my first step.  Before this post, I had never blogged, thought about blogging or even really understood what I could contribute to the blog world.  I’m still working out the last one, but I managed to put together a post complete with hyperlinks and keywords.  A decent first step in my opinion, but it is only a first step.  Next I am going to respond to a LinkedIn invite.  My inbox has quite a few that I have ignored over the last couple of months.  I also plan to figure out the deal with Dropbox, Foursquare and Delicious.  Over the next semester, I hope to become alive and well in the social media world.  After all, it seems like everywhere has a need for social media savvy help.

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