Social Media ins and outs

•May 1, 2012 • 1 Comment

ANALYZING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF SOCIAL MEDIA

Social media has been proven as an effective tool for public relations.  Social media includes the use of email marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), blogs, podcasts, real simple syndication (RSS), social searching, social networking, microblogging (Twitter), and web content management.  It is the number one sought-after job skill for public relations practitioners.

Social media is important to public relations because it positions the person as the expert.  We heard in class that only 14% of people believe advertisements while 86% believe peer reviews.

Other benefits to social media are that it tests ideas and personalizes relationships.

To select which social media platform is best, a PR person needs to analyze the intended audience to help identify the kind of content to be published.  The content needs to be realistic and compatible with the team’s strengths.

Social media is a huge part of campaigns.  If I was the social media specialist for a PR firm, I would use social media for a campaign in the following way:

First I would start a conversation on Facebook.  I would join in on others’ conversations, research competitors, scan media, and check alerts.

Facebook is a highly personal medium, so it needs to have a 1-on-1 impact.  When using Facebook, the practitioner needs to know the public and decide if the content posted to Facebook will be appropriate for the intended public.  A company can connect on Facebook by buying an ad, listening, and developing content based on outcomes.  It is important to note never to pitch on Facebook.  To help develop a Facebook presence, it is important to produce and share interesting information so people can “Like” the organization.  Then the organization can promote themselves.  80% of the posts should be educating and informing and the remaining 20% should be promoting.

PR personnel can also work with journalists on social media sites. Twitter can be used for breaking news.  Facebook is used to start a conversation.  Email is used for heads-up announcements, follow-up, and private conversations.  Blogs and websites are utilized for in-depth information on topics.  An important note is that new and social media should not replace traditional media outlets.

SOCIAL MEDIA TOOLS

Social media tools include Trendsmap, Booshaka, and Tweeted Times.  Other tools include Quora and Flipbook.

Trendsmap is a map of trending topics on Twitter in cities and countries.

Booshaka is a list of the most passionate people and communities on Facebook.

Tweeted Times is a personalized newspaper created by tweets that are generated from your twitter account and followers’ tweets.

Flipbook is a social media magazine on the iPad.

Quora is a different type of site.  It is a question-and-answer platform that connects you with everything you want to know.  The user posts a question, waits for answers, and then votes on the best answer.  Some uses that Quora may have for PR include knowing peers and influencers, sources of ideas, and knowing search engine effectiveness.

These are just a few of the social media principles we learned about in Principles of Public Relations class.  Social media continues to grow as an effective new media platform and provides an abundance of resources available to both PR practitioners and journalists.  I know that I will constantly use social media throughout my lifetime and career in the Communication field.  My knowledge of social media techniques will prove to be an asset in my job search.

As we have all heard the saying, you can never know too much about a subject – well, with social media; that certainly rings true!

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Reflections on the Future

•April 24, 2012 • Leave a Comment

“If I could save time in a bottle/the first thing that I’d like to do/is to save every day till Eternity passes away” – Jim Croce “Time in a Bottle”

As I sit back and reflect on this semester, I remember how I was this time last year when I was contemplating switching majors.  I was unsure of what stop the train ride of my life would come to next.  But, I was overjoyed to finally realize my destiny: I found my talent area and went with it!

When I switched majors, I knew I would be happy with my choice.  I was right!  The more I got involved in Communication, the more I loved it and therefore became happier.  I have thoroughly enjoyed being a member of the Pawprint staff this year and am excited to continue with it this summer and next school year.

All of the Communication classes have been worth it so far, but Principles of Public Relations has been one of the most interesting.  The class started off a bit slow at first, but now as I have moved past the basics, I’ve grown to really enjoy crisis communication and also campaigns.

Our final project in that class is a basic campaign plan.  I have taken an internship with VolunteenNation this summer that will officially begin in June. VolunteenNation co-founders Simone and Jake Bernstein created St. Louis Volunteen.com in July 2009 after they were frustrated with the lack of information about volunteer opportunities in the area for students under age 18 that wanted to get involved in the community.   In March 2012, St. Louis Volunteen went national and became VolunteenNation.  The organization strives to spread the spirit of volunteerism for youth and families across the nation.  Their goal is to add 35 hundred positions to their growing database of volunteer opportunities across the nation.

VolunteenNation actively uses social media sites, including Twitter, to promote their organization and share updates on new volunteer opportunities and news.  They also have a Facebook account, but are having trouble with their new page for the national site.  Their goals are to find creative marketing strategies to spread the word about their new national site.

I am going to put together a campaign plan for their launch for the final project.  One of the components will be the use of social media. (of course!)  I will brainstorm ways to incorporate social media into the campaign process.

One way to beef up VolunteenNation’s Facebook page is to add more photo albums and videos.  This can be done by taking photos at the events, having participants take photos at the volunteer opportunities, and taking “behind the scenes” photos.  This is relatively easy to do with little to no cost to the organizers.  The photos will help build the organization’s image so that the public  can get a firsthand look at what the agency is doing and so the image is spread more rapidly.

Another way that the organization could incorporate social media is through dialogue.  Asking participants to share experiences and stories on the site while responding to questions is a good way to increase site traffic.  These are just a few tactics that I will put together in my plan for the VolunteenNation agency’s national promotion.

While public relations is not directly in charge of journalism, journalists can still use social media accounts to get source information for their stories.  A journalist can go to VolunteenNation’s Facebook page and get more information about a story to cover in their news outlet.

The knowledge gained in these university courses helps make me feel challenged and ready to embark on a successful career in Communication.  As Jim Croce says it best in “Time in a Bottle”, the first thing I’ll do as eternity (my future career) passes away is to save every day and every moment before it’s too late.

Social Media and Sports Journalism

•April 17, 2012 • Leave a Comment

These blogs are good!  Not just because it is something to do, but it is something to think about and write in an informal setting.  These blog assignments help us think about our major and ways to put it into practice in the infinite abyss of communication. 

Since I’ve tried to talk about a variety of journalism topics of interest, such as last week’s music blog entry; I’ll talk about another interest of mine this week: sports!  While I am not athletic in the least bit, I am still a sports fan.  Needless to say, I’ve attended Saint Louis University Billiken men’s basketball games since I was a kid; and I watched every single game of last year’s super amazing World Series which the Cardinals won!

St. Louis is CARDINAL NATION, baby!  Eleven World Series titles under our city’s massive belt is one significant achievement for the ‘Lou.  And, of course if you live here in St. Louis you want #12in12 as they say on Twitter. 

What I’m trying to say here, is that sports journalism can go a long way to help boost the spirit of a city.  Sports journalists and personalities, like Frank Cusumano, Rene Knot, and even Mike Shannon help to promote the sports to fans as well as broadcast news updates about conferences, games, and even World Series and Stanley Cup playoffs.

Sports, whether it is on the air, on camera or radio, is all about the heat of the moment.  A sports personality/journalist must have the ability to creatively articulate their voice with the action in the game.  As I stated in last week’s blog entry about the importance of having “the voice” on radio and television, I think this does tie into the use of social media in sports journalism. 

During COM 241 News Writing &Editing class, we learned how to write news stories in a variety of beats.  We did not write an official sports story, but the book listed some valuable information about how to craft sports writing.  I have written a few sports stories for Pawprint this year.  I wrote one about RED ALERT and one about the Maryville Saints Roller Hockey team going to Nationals. 

I feel that social media can play a significant role in the sports world.  If someone doesn’t have the “voice” for radio but is an avid sports fan, why not update fans minute-to-minute on Twitter?  Since Twitter is good for breaking news, why not use it to give current sports information during a game?  

I would welcome the opportunity to shadow a sports journalist and see what they do in terms of utilizing social media.  And it doesn’t just have to be with Twitter and Facebook.  A sports journalist could also make podcasts and videos on YouTube and a photo book on Flickr of World Series pictures.  We all remember that picture of David Freese running into a wall of over ecstatic Cardinal players during game 6 of the 2011 World Series.  Wouldn’t that be a fun instagram or YouTube posting?

Music, Radio, and Tumblr

•April 10, 2012 • 1 Comment

In Principles of Public Relations class we did a social media paper where we followed two companies’ Facebook and Twitter pages and then wrote an analysis and comparison essay about our findings.  I did two classic rock radio stations here in St. Louis: Oldies 103.3 FM KLOU and K-Hits 96.3 FM.  In this case, I’m not sure if a music station would be considered mainstream journalism as in “news” radio or just programming.

Because I have a love for music (mostly rock), you could say that one day I hope to do something with rock music.  I would love to have the opportunity to work at Clear Channel Radio.  I hope to someday meet Steve, Sherry Farmer, and Cindy Collins at KLOU.  I really wanted to meet Greg Hewitt, but have no idea what happened to him.  He suddenly went off the air and his blog is gone from their website, so maybe that means he left the station.

So how does music mesh with journalism?  Well, one obvious way is Rolling Stone magazine.  Oh my gosh, that would definitely be a dream job for me!!! Imagine having the opportunity to interview FAMOUS musicians and getting a first-hand glimpse into their glamorous lives.  Think of all the neat feature stories you could write!  Also, who wouldn’t want an all-access backstage tour pass?

Rolling Stone was first published in November 1967.  The ever-popular magazine has now emerged into social media.  In addition to a Facebook page, they now have accounts on Twitter and Tumblr.

Twitter is one thing, but Tumblr is another.  I took a glance at Rolling Stone’s Tumblr page.  It looks a lot like a Twitter, but with more images and blogging.  They have a nice photo and blurb about Kurt Cobain’s death (18th anniversary today) and other news happening in the music world.

I guess this is the time when I confess that I kind of wish I had chosen PR to write about.  Music PR would be an interest of mine as well.  But music journalism certainly is an interest I have, mostly in written copy but also radio.

I am interested in radio partly because of its ability to reach a very large audience at any given time.  People are most likely to listen to the radio while driving, and if you have a good enough station with content that is easily able to grab attention, then you have more success at gaining and keeping listeners.  And I’m not just alluding to casually talking about the weather… you have to be interesting enough to make your audience continue listening.  After all, in radio, you are not seen; only heard.  And the news segments are short: only 30 or 60 seconds.

Believe it or not, social media could be the way that radio bridges into being slightly like television.  Social media has the ability to align images with words, especially Tumblr, and maybe Instagram.  I do not have any experience with Instagram, so I cannot say it “for the fact”, but I’ve heard Instagram is like a Twitter for photos.  But that seems like what Tumblr is…photo sharing with status updates.  I think I will make that my next goal: creating a Tumblr account!   Think of all the things music journalists could do with Tumblr… concert announcements, tour photos, artist bios, pictures, concert movies (if you are able to upload video clips), and more.  I will definitely look into it, and also careers in music journalism.  Please share your ideas with me!

Staying Undercover to Avoid Destruction by the Public Eye

•April 3, 2012 • Leave a Comment

I know my topic is not about public relations, but I do think that journalists need to know the purpose of public relations; as it will help with their articles.  There are many reasons why public relations is important.  One reason is that public relations professionals help define a company’s image and how it is influenced by its publics.  PR includes both internal and external communications.  This details how an organization communicates with its employees and publics outside the organization – including stakeholders. 

Today in my Principles of Public Relations class we watched an episode of Undercover Boss.  The show premiered on CBS in 2010 and has been shown on other networks.  It involves an upper level executive going into the organization’s stores or other centers and taking on the roles of entry-level workers.  The employees believe they are being filmed for a documentary about entry-level workers but in reality they are featured on the TV show. 

In the episode we watched, the CEO of Yankee Candle visited several stores and a distribution center.   He placed on a disguise and took on roles of sales associate, packer, maintenance, and stocker.  While on the show, he conversed and met with several employees with different personalities.  One of the guys saw through his disguise when the CEO somehow knew how to perfectly make the wax mold candles.  He went on to call the guy out, in a sense.  At the conclusion of the episode, the CEO revealed his true identity and met with each employee individually.  He offered them promotions and various stipends to support their personal struggles.  The show proves to be an effective way to showcase what public relations actually entails. 

This show’s concept actually does play a large role in how employees and journalists should utilize social media sites.  For one thing, these employees did not know they were being filmed, so their comments on the show were aired and they had no control over this.  But, social media allows us to have control over what we do post, but not what others may post about us.  Being informed about effective ways to utilize social media to compose your personal “brand” is vital to promoting a successful you. 

One thing I have seen people do on social media sites is post too much of their personal views on touchy subjects including religion, politics, gay rights, etc.  You name it, basically.  I have seen individuals post very radical political views with strong language that may negatively impact other readers/consumers.  As a member of the public eye; I include both journalists AND public relations practitioners in this category – it is extremely important to paint an honest yet neutral picture as to not offend anyone.  Journalists especially need to realize the implications of posting personal views on the internet because they can be interpreted as you placing bombast toward your employer, which can deceive the public. 

A way that journalists can stay neutral on social media sites includes posting thoughtful topics on actual news – not op-ed, unless you are an op-ed columnist.  If you agree with a certain political candidate but disagree with another, remain neutral by putting your ideas beside you.  Do not negatively place a candidate in false light or post your endorsement of another candidate, because your posts can instantly make you less credible as a journalist.  They can also shed a negative light on your employer for allowing your personal views to interfere with the goals of your company, which is to promote news topics of ALL candidates and events. 

This is just one way you as a journalist can make yourself appreciated by many.  The “don’t ask, don’t tell” thing can I guess apply, but just be careful about what you say on the internet.  Also, “when in doubt, don’t put it out.”   I think there is a lot I could say about politics and religion but I choose not to put it out there in fear of retaliation and not securing future employment. 

The Power of the People

•March 26, 2012 • Leave a Comment

It’s my senior year…part one.  You’re probably thinking to yourself “Huh?  What do you mean it is part one of your senior year?… I thought people were only a senior once, for a year, and then they graduated?”  Well, OK… I see your point.  Let me try to clarify. 

This is my fourth year at Maryville.  I’ve attended since fall 2008, so therefore, yes, it does make me technically a “senior” if you put it in the traditional sense.  However, in the “new sense” people nowadays are not necessarily finishing college in four years.  Yes, people mostly enroll in Bachelor degree programs that are designed to be completed in four years, but others do not.  Others take advantage of five year Master’s degree programs or even 6+ year doctorate degrees.  While I’m not a Master’s or doctoral student, I am not finishing a traditional four year degree in four years. 

When I started at Maryville, I knew I wanted to work with kids.  I had just finished volunteering that summer after high school graduation with preschoolers and knew I wanted to make that my career.  I also loved art, so I thought, why not become an art teacher?  I proceeded to enroll in the Maryville art education program. 

I started those art classes and realized how demanding they were.   I was told in final portfolio review that maybe a professional career in art wasn’t for me, but that I could still do art as a hobby.  So, I decided to drop the art portion of the degree and aspire to be an early childhood teacher.  I slowly discovered the challenges of leading a group of kids during my practicum experiences and then was gradually persuaded to reconsider my major. 

I thought to myself… what am I going to do now?  It is my senior year of college and I’m changing majors again?  Thoughts raced inside my head.  I don’t want to be in college for another four years and graduate with a Bachelor’s degree at the age of 26! 

I decided to speak with the Career counselor.  I discussed my interests in English and Communication.  I have always been told that I have strong writing skills.  When I was in high school, I contemplated majoring in Journalism.  My mom told me that while it was “fun”, I would be better going for a degree that would surely land me an exact job.  Now, sitting in my old adviser’s office with the Assistant Dean, I decided to make the change and my mom agreed. 

I met with the Program Director about a month before the start of classes.  I told her of my passions for writing and art, and she helped convince me that this could be the “right” major for me.  I was nothing short of excited. 

Classes began in August and I loved every single one.  I particularly enjoyed my News Writing and Editing and my student newspaper classes.  I have a passion for journalism and loved becoming engrossed in everything involving reporting, writing, and editing. 

I feel that journalism will never die.  Without it, there would be no way to become involved in our world and in our relatively small communities which we live.  One new method of reporting lies in social media.  Like I told someone the other day, I believe that one day social media will rule the world.  It will definitely takeover.  There is so much knowledge to be gained from Twitter and Facebook.  Twitter was like a dream to me – a means of getting all updates on anything and everything I enjoy – all in one spot.

In particular, social media definitely is changing journalism.  As those of us who grew up in St. Louis, like myself, we have noticed the gradual shrinking of the Post Dispatch over the past decade.  As the Post paper shrinks, its Twitter grows.  I have seen very few reporters who are NOT on Twitter.   Plus, the growing trend of hyperlocal news is expanding, with  sites like Patch, where you can connect with your community.  In one of my fall classes we had two guest speakers from Patch, former Maplewood-Brentwood editor Ryan Martin and St. Louis regional editor Kurt Greenbaum.  They told us of their site and how their mission of journalist is “to serve the community.”  Patch has a growing social media presence with bloggers, fans on Facebook, and followers on Twitter. 

An article by Austin-based news organization Statesman (2010) discusses how social media is reshaping journalism.   

“Social media have gone mainstream, but what does that really mean? Sure, you can share pictures from a party quicker, and with more people than ever before (including long-forgotten high school classmates). You can also see what Lance Armstrong is up to at any given moment or share your opinion of a new restaurant.

What is going under the radar a little is the effect social media have had on journalism.

The dramatic technological changes that played a part in the news industry’s well-documented problems have also opened opportunities for journalists to connect with the public on an unprecedented level. We still report facts and give you the news, but the rise of social media has changed how a story is told and consumed.”

With everyone having instant access to social media, a comment is a click away on a journalist’s story.  As much as a reader would call the phone number or write the email address posed in the newspaper article, a person can now post a message to a journalist’s social media account and have the message read by more than a million readers.  In our democracy today, the “power of the people” certainly plays a role in journalism coupled with emerging social media. 

Welcome!

•March 20, 2012 • 1 Comment

“Hello? Is there anybody in there? Just nod if you can hear me. Is there anyone at home?” – Pink Floyd

Welcome to my blog!  This blog was set up to increase my social media presence and to create an outlet for expressing my thoughts and ideas about this exciting, ever-changing world.  It was also created as a class assignment.

Even though this blog is mostly going to be about stuff for my class (at least for the next 7 weeks), I still hope to talk about one of my favorite things — MUSIC.  So, I’m going to feature some of my favorite songs on this site in the form of YouTube videos (have no idea how to create a playlist to feature on here like I had on Xanga back in the day).  Can you guess what today’s song is?  If you did not read the first line of my post, the “song of the day” is “Comfortably Numb” by Pink Floyd.  Pink Floyd is such an awesome band.  They took a lot of risks as musicians and their songs have so many unique and interesting elements.  Enjoy! 

Here is a little about me:

Currently I am completing a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication with emphasis areas in Strategic Communication and Contemporary Journalism at Maryville University. I am also working to obtain a minor in Writing. I am a dedicated student with strong academic credentials. While working part-time and taking on a full course load each semester, I have been able to earn four consecutive semesters of Dean’s List honors at Maryville.

I have had a great opportunity this year being a staff writer for Pawprint, Maryville University’s student online news publication. I have contributed stories each week in a variety of beats including feature, news, entertainment, review, and sports. In addition, I have helped greatly increase readership to the site by promoting my stories on social media channels and utilizing strong SEO tactics. Participation in campus media has helped me gain skills in researching, interviewing, reporting, and writing a variety of stories in AP Style.

I am seeking a dynamic, fast-paced, and exciting career in Public Relations or Journalism.  I realize that my opportunities are endless.  There is so much that I would like to accomplish and it is my job in this world to take advantage of all these opportunities!

One of my classes (actually, the class I created this blog for) is about social media.  We have to pick an area to use social media to further study.  I can’t decide between Public Relations and Journalism.  Either way would be great for me to learn.  Social media is going to take over the world some day, but it probably already has.  Today (or should I say yesterday!) in my Principles of PR class we learned that social media is the NUMBER ONE skill/trait for today’s PR professionals!!! You HAVE to know it if you want to succeed in today’s world, especially in the Communication field.   It’s important to learn effective ways to utilize all of the benefits social media has to offer an organization or client.  I look forward to further blogging about all of the exciting information I learn in my classes.