Bon Voyage!

Well it’s about time I graduate. Only took me awhile (two years) to figure out what I wanted to major in, but I finally discovered where my interests lay.  I initially came to UNT with the intent to major in communication designs, and then after learning more about the major I changed my mind real quick. After a couple semesters of floating around and focusing on core classes I chose to major in journalism and stuck with it. The further I got in the program the more I felt comfortable and at ease with my decision because I liked writing and thinking creatively.

Fast forward to the future and here I am now counting down the days till I graduate. With graduation around the corner I am excited and nervous at the same time. It’s hard to believe that the past four years have flown by and now I’ll be graduating in less than a week. I’m proud to say that I’m the first one in my family to attend college, let alone graduate. I can’t wait for my parents to see me walk across the stage and show them how far I’ve come.

I’ve always enjoyed writing and social media, but it didn’t really sink in as to how much I am passionate about them until I was at a job interview discussing why I should have the position I was applying for. I love public relations. I love that technology is always developing and changing the industry constantly. I like being the first to know about new social media tools and trends.

Even though I know exactly what I want to do when I graduate, I’m unsure about where I want to be. As far as life plans go after graduation, everything is up in the air. My parents want me to move to San Antonio so I can be close to them. However, I would prefer to stay in Dallas. I’ve come to love the area and there’s a lot more to do there than in San Antonio. But then again, all my close friends live in my hometown and they are always telling me how much they want me to come back, so now I’m faced with the difficult decision of determining what’s the right thing to do.

Considering all things, I am so blessed to have a great college experience and have wonderful professors who have taught me so much and prepared me for the real world. All the hard work and long hours of studying have finally paid off. I’m so thankful for all the friends I’ve made in my classes and hope to stay in touch with them for years to come. I’ve also had an amazing internship this semester and met so many people who I relied on to give me great advice and steer me in the right direction. I’m grateful for my time at UNT and I am ready for a new beginning.

 

Social Media & the Holidays

social-media-holiday

It’s official—the holiday season has finally arrived. With all the buzzing excitement of the holidays, businesses should take advantage of this because it provides new ways to create interest about products or services through social media. Findings ways to engage audiences through social media is now more important than ever to a business’ longevity. In fact, 36 percent of social media users trust brands with a social media presence, and 80 percent of users who received a response on a social channel went on to make a purchase (Mr. Youth, 2011). Consider using the holidays as an excuse to change things up a little at the work office and use marketing strategies to target consumers.

socialmediaiconsHere are some tips to consider during the holiday season:

  1. Plan early: Businesses must always stay on top of social media trends and research what competitors are doing in industry as well. Plan early and create strategic plans so that your organization can build buzz before holidays rather than during it.
  2. Post useful content on social media sites: Provide information to people that will be current and beneficial for them during the holiday season.
  3. Don’t forget about SEO: Optimize keywords on social media content that way people can easily find this information again at a later time.
  4. Measure effectiveness of strategies: Determine what strategies work best and what your audiences prefer. Try out different things and see which ideas get the most feedback and responses.
  5. Engage followers: Encourage viewers to post stories or pictures of their holiday plans and hold online contests with incentives.
  6. Show off company culture: This is a fun one. Share photos or stories of what the office staff is up to on social media sites with holiday parties or charitable events

If you were a brand, what holiday strategies would you use to effectively communicate with consumers to drive your business?

Sources:
http://www.mry.com/Work/Thinking?article=T4
http://smallbiztrends.com/2012/11/social-media-holiday-marketing-strategy.html
http://mashable.com/2011/12/14/social-media-holiday-purchases/

FedEx Proves to be Excellent Example of PR Crisis Management

fedx

Last December FedEx experienced its PR crisis of the year when a video went viral of a deliveryman arriving to a customer’s home with a package and threw it over the fence.

The customer had a surveillance camera outside their fence and incident was recorded. What would anyone do with that kind of footage? The answer is put it on YouTube. The customer put the short clip on the Internet and was seen by millions, and can still be seen today.

So what does FedEx do? They addressed the issue head on. They are recognized as solving one of the worst PR crises of 2011. FedEx took immediate action by apologizing to the customer and troubleshooting using social media.

FedEx created its own YouTube video to issue a statement of apology by the senior VP of FedEx Express U.S. Operations, Michael Thornton. He shared how the company fixed the problem with the customer and how FedEx will use the video in employee training so employees will know the correct and appropriate action to take when delivering packages.

fedex-youtube-response

“We hope that you, like the customer involved in this incident, will see it as an unfortunate exception that proves the rule that our company cares for its customers,” Thornton wrote.

Based on the YouTube video’s feedback, it was mostly positive. Customers and employees agreed with the actions that were taken and appreciated seeing a face to the company, and showing they care for their customers and only want to deliver the best customer service possible.

From a PR perspective FedEx did all the right things to control the aftermath of the situation. FedEx responded in a quick manner not allowing any spare time to pass. The company took the incident seriously and told the truth. They didn’t deny the deliveryman was a FedEx employee or that it never happened. They sincerely apologized to the customer and reimbursed them with a new computer. Bottom line: we all make mistakes, but it’s about how we recover from them.

Sources:
http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/1837-10-biggest-pr-disasters-year.html
http://spinsucks.com/communication/fedex-customer-video-turned-good-pr/ http://devriesblog.com/2011/12/22/fedex-deserves-a-black-belt-in-crisis-management-for-response-to-viral-video/

Have you heard of Rewarder?

Yeah, me neither. Rewarder describes itself as simply a social marketplace that connects people who are looking for “unique knowledge or expertise” with those who are interested in helping them.

Did you catch that? It’s difficult to understand what the website is at first glance. But nonetheless, it’s the most recent social media site that is eager to make a name for itself.

Rewarder held a media tweet chat this week to engage audiences through Twitter. Tweeters had the opportunity to participate in a Tweetchat with Rewarder and to learn more about the company. The overwhelming responses of people thought that Rewarder’s concept and website were difficult to follow. This should issue a major red flag to anyone who knows that your customers are always right.

Rewarder took the initiative to explain that all consumers have to do is read its “About” and “FAQ” section to get the point of the site. Well, that’s easier said than done. The consumer must also create a profile first before reviewing rewards on the site. Not to mention, once you create an account it automatically links itself to your Facebook account and uses your private information.

Upon visiting the website the layout looks similar to Pinterest and Etsy. From a consumer point of view, the site is complicated and it shouldn’t take them more than a few seconds to determine what the site is about. The consumer has to dig through the site just to find out what it is about and how it works.

My suggestions for Rewarder are to tweak a few things on their website and clearly explain what the benefits to using the site. The website needs to be more user friendly and should have more information on the top of the homepage where everyone can see it. Secondly, simplify what the uses are, because if the consumer can’t understand it then they won’t be interested.

How do you think Rewarder can improve its website and marketability?

Sources:
http://rewarder.com/about
http://twitter.com/rewarder

PR Crisis- 2010 BP Oil Spill

The BP oil spill happened more than two years ago, and it’s still talked about today because it’s known as one of the largest oil spill disasters in the petroleum industry. But that’s not the only thing people are talking about.

BP is a well-known multinational oil and gas company and it is the fourth-largest company in the world. In the past 10 years, BP has had some unfortunate accidents with its oil rigs; in 2010 it looked like it would be no different.

The U.S. was shocked and appalled at how BP’s public relations handled the situation, or rather how they didn’t handle the situation. PR crisis communications is supposed to fix impending problems, not create more. This situation has gone down in history as one of the worst examples of a public relations response to a national crisis.

In April 2010 an oil rig exploded due to a blowout spill in the Gulf of Mexico and it caused havoc among U.S. citizens. The accident killed 11 workers and extensively harmed marine animals and wildlife. BP’s CEO Tony Hayward was in no way prepared to respond or comfort the public in their time of need, and as a result the U.S. was infuriated and lashed out.

Here’s what BP did wrong:

  • BP chose to avoid confrontation with the public, and disabled negative comments about the crisis on its’ Facebook page and YouTube channel.
  • Hayward downplayed the extent of the accident. In an interview Hayward said the impact of spill on the environment would be “very, very modest.”
  • Hayward elected himself as the official spokesperson rather than choosing the VP of communications or another leader in BP. A news article reported Hayward was “ineffective and awkward in TV interviews.”

BP and Hayward’s PR strategies were so off point. They blocked all opinions from the public and didn’t provide a real solution to the problem or comfort the public. It would have been a better idea to let the public express their thoughts and opinions and listen to what they have to say.

Engage and interact with your audiences. Ignoring them only makes you look unfavorable. Hayward shouldn’t have been the spokesperson because he didn’t know what to say to the media.  The spokesperson should’ve been the VP of communication or another leader in BP.

Lastly, be honest. Don’t lie to the public about the problem; it’ll only make the situation worse, especially when you are downplaying the impact of the problem. Tell the public what has happened and what you’re going to do to fix it.

How do you think BP handled the situation? What suggestions would provide them as a PR professional?

Have a ‘Voice’ Online (Podcasts)

You may not know much about the uses of podcasts, but they are a popular social media tool. When one thinks about podcasts, you probably compare it to radio and think there isn’t much of a difference between the two, but there’s more to it than one would think. Podcasts are radio-styled and can be downloaded from the Internet onto the computer desktop.

So, podcasts are like radio shows and Internet audio? Not exactly. Unlike radio shows, podcasts can be listened to anytime and anywhere. The user controls when and how they listen to their preferred streamed show. You don’t have to worry about tuning in at a particular time or downloading several files from a website.

Podcast are sometimes a better choice than video when reaching out to your audiences. Audio is great for your intended audiences because people don’t always have the time to sit and watch a video. They often require a 100 percent of your attention and that’s not always feasible. With podcasts, you can listen and multi-task while driving your car, walking on the treadmill or doing laundry.

Another advantage to podcasts is that anyone can create one. Compared to video, podcasts are easy to make and cost almost nothing to make. People are free to create their own syndicated radio shows and reach potential listeners. This allows them to share their passion and knowledge about a particular issue or topic of interest. However, podcasts aren’t just for individuals. Even companies are increasingly using them to educate consumers on their products or services, e-learning, and off-site training for their staff and employees.

Before class, I didn’t realize podcasts were so useful and essential to an organization. I think it gives an edge and they are great way to spread your ideas and develop your brand. And if you are interested in tapping into a new audience, or keep an existing one, starting a podcast is a good idea.

What do you think about podcasts? Would consider creating one for your organization?

Sources:
http://prdaily.com/Main/Articles/11624.asp
http://prdaily.com/Main/Video/11.aspx
http://www.voices.com/podcasting.html

Social Media Sickness

Symptoms of a social media addiction include checking your Facebook and Instagram to see how many likes a post or picture has, being mayor of just about every restaurant/venue/bar/place you can think of, and checking your Twitter for any replies or retweets. Could this be you?

Marketo had a hilarious take on unhealthy relationships with social media. Truth be told, we may all be a little guilty of this. Come on admit it, we are all a little nutty for online engagement and checking our phone every hour. You wouldn’t be in this field if you didn’t get excited about social media.

The blog identifies 10 unhealthy habits and symptoms for each type of person. There is every type of social media sickness from “The Alert-Lover” to “The Freak Out-Er.” Convinced these don’t apply to you? Check a few of these out:

  • The Social Guru–  You are a self-proclaimed “Social Media Guru” and use it in your Twitter bio. News flash: everyone can be an expert in social media, gain followers and fans, and follow trends. It’s about knowing exactly who your audience is and writing specific content for them.
  • The Vowel Hater- Your messages can’t fit in 140 characters or less so you drop all vowels from your tweets. Bad idea.  If you’re professional or even a soon-to-be-graduate and you’re doing this, shame on you. It’s unprofessional and people won’t take you seriously. You should be thinking about getting your information as clear and concise as possible.
  • The Blog Referencer- You direct everyone to your blog and say, “I wrote a blog about that, you should read it.” This annoys people to no end. You are telling people if they want to find out about something they need to look it up. Do your friends a solid one and answer their question.

Are you guilty of any of these addictions? Do you have an addiction that wasn’t listed?