Flash Communications

Tales from a student-PR agency at Kent State University


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Takeaways from YouToo Social Media Conference

Haley Keding shares her takeaways from the 2015 YouToo Social Media Conference

Haley Keding shares her takeaways from the 2015 YouToo Social Media Conference

A few weeks ago, I attended the eighth annual YouToo Social Media Conference where I learned about social media’s place in the professional world of PR. The conference was phenomenal, and I loved listening to keynote speakers Gini Dietrich, author of “Spin Sucks” and founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, and Mark W. Smith, mobile web editor at The Washington Post. Both professionals had great things to say at the conference so I wanted to share some of their tips on social content and ethics that stuck with me.

MarkSmith

Mark W. Smith opening the YouToo conference with “What IS Social?” Photo by @ebatyko

First off, it’s important to understand what makes social content good or bad. Smith said that when people scroll through their timelines and news feeds, they want short, quick information, so good social content is short, sweet and to the point. If readers choose to click on a link, he said they want to clearly understand what they will read and the experience they will have from that link. This is definitely a tip I want to use on my social media accounts- especially Facebook. Thankfully, Twitter has a 140 character limit, but on Facebook, it’s easy to write a paragraph or two- or five. When I post things in the future, I plan to treat it like a news lead; I’ll keep it to one or two sentences and get the main point of my post across clearly and quickly. I don’t want anyone to be bored with my posts or confused about what I’m telling them, so I plan to ditch the cutesy, fluffy intro for the sanity of my Facebook friends.

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Entertainment PR Tips from an Intern

PR Senior Amanda Knauer provides tips on getting ahead in event public relations

PR Senior Amanda Knauer provides tips on getting ahead in entertainment public relations

Since the day I heard about Allied Integrated Marketing when I was a sophomore, I knew I wanted to eventually intern there. Allied “builds impactful and results-driven campaigns for entertainment and lifestyle clients.”  The agency’s closest branch to me is in Cleveland, but there are offices all over the country (Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, San Diego, Boston, Washington D.C., and the list goes on). At the branch in Cleveland, the agency works basically with new movies coming out in theaters.

After applying and interviewing for the position this past December, I kept my fingers crossed as I waited for the phone call. You can imagine my excitement when the agency finally called and offered me an intern position. I saw it as a way to get my foot in the door. The entertainment sector is a tough one to get into when it comes to public relations.

So, although I have only been an intern at Allied for about a month now, I have learned and experienced many different things about the entertainment industry. Here are a few tips to being successful as an entertainment PR intern:

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The Power of Social Media in Action

Senior PR Major Katie Smith talks about the power of social media.

Senior PR Major Katie Smith talks about the power of social media.

Social media gives us access to our favorite celebrities and brands like never before. Twitter is probably the easiest medium for interaction, but these brands won’t seek you out. You have to be proactive and join in on conversations already happening with the celebrity or brand.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have some of my favorite Twitter accounts interact with me, and I think it’s made me even more loyal to them.

Because I’m interested in fashion public relations, @OscarPRGirl, aka Erika Bearman, has been my idol since I found her account in 2012. She’s in charge of communications for Oscar de la Renta. One day during my freshman year I tweeted to her – not expecting a reply – but I about lost it when I got one.

KSoscar1

I’ve interacted with her on other occasions via social media, and I’d call it a win.

The positive energy bangle company, Alex and Ani’s (@alexandani) social media team also does an excellent job of communicating with its fans. I recently tagged them in a post because I was working on a school project for the company. They not only tweeted me back wishing me luck, but also offered to help if I needed any additional information. Talk about service.

Tweet2

My greatest social media achievement came from my all-time favorite Twitter account, the magazine Cosmopolitan (@Cosmopolitan). After following the account earlier this year I realized how great of a social media presence the magazine has. I also realized how similar my sense of humor was to the magazine’s sense of humor. I think this is a really important aspect of branding for a company online. Cosmo has a human voice in its tweets. It’s not a stereotypical, robotic magazine account, and most importantly, it interacts with its followers.

One morning I decided to tweet what I had been thinking for months, “why do I get the feeling everyone who works at @Cosmopolitan is having way more fun than the rest of us?”

Cosmo TwitterCosmo favorited, retweeted and responded to the tweet. Then to my surprise, they followed me! I was so shocked and surprised. It just goes to show how impactful social media can be. Cosmo has 1.1 million followers, and it only follows 1,873 users.

One of Cosmo’s followers happens to be Harry Styles, and I fully plan on marrying him. I’d say I’m one step closer.


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Magazines succeed – and slip up – across social media platforms

Magazine Journalism Major Kelli Fitzpatrick evaluates the social media efforts of top magazines

Magazine Journalism Major Kelli Fitzpatrick evaluates the social media efforts of top magazines

As a magazine journalism major, I love the world of magazine media. Whether it’s in print, on an iPad or online, I consume magazine content every single day. The method I most frequently use to gobble up celebrity, fashion, food and culture news is social media. I follow many of my favorite publications on Twitter, where I watch tweets roll in by the minute. Today, most magazines have accounts on many platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ and Instagram. I’ve looked into my three favorite social media sites to uncover how magazines are using their accounts to promote their brands with style—or are struggling to do so.

Twitter

Doing it right: @slate, 780,000 followers. Slate, a daily online magazine, seems to have mastered tweeting new original content every few minutes with funny, catchy headlines. “Does Pope Francis support gay civil unions?” and “Reminder: 10 percent of people will believe anything” are just two gems to attract readers to slate.com to read more. @slate also retweets followers who share Slate stories, putting on display the articles that actual readers are enjoying.

Needs some work: @marieclaire, 1.45 million followers. Fashion mag Marie Claire regularly commits a Twitter crime: way too many repeat tweets. I understand tweets roll in so fast that a media account must repost links to keep its content near the top of followers’ feeds. But Marie Claire goes overboard in repeatedly pushing its content. Case in point: the early-morning celebrity news on March 6th was Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s setting a wedding date. @marieclaire posted a link to its news article six times, each with a different paparazzi shot of the notorious couple, between 6:24 and 7:06 a.m. Maybe I’m biased because I am anti-Kardashian, but this incessant coverage was nauseating.

Facebook

Doing it right: Entertainment Weekly, 1.7 million likes. Entertainment Weekly uses a combination of horizontal photos and links to content and to other Facebook pages to make its posts pop on the Facebook news feed. EW’s albums of “exclusive” photos and videos make visiting this page worth your time.  Regular posts tote exclusive content on EW.com, with heavy emphasis on daily TV and movie news.

Needs some work: Seventeen Magazine, 2.4 million likes. The fashion magazine of my youth struggles to stay relevant on the Facebook news feed, with its first offense being a boring profile picture. Instead of updating its photo to the month’s cover star—as most magazines do—Seventeen uses its plain pink logo, which gets fuzzy in thumbnail form. The page could also do more to liven up its posts. Seventeen doesn’t use nearly enough photos, leading to plain posts with simple callouts such as “How to shop smart online and avoid counterfeit sites.” I know the 17-year-old version of myself wouldn’t be persuaded to click that link, making the post a failure.

Pinterest

Doing it right: Vanity Fair, 50,000 followers. Vanity Fair creates an eclectic, enticing array of 43 boards. With a total of more than 1,300 pins, the magazine presents a smorgasbord of topics: The VF Oscar party, retro photos from the magazine’s 100 years of production and even a “Classy Cats” board of celebrities with their felines. The entertaining mix doesn’t stop there: “Style in the Streets” features street style on celebrities and normal folk alike; “Vanity Table” delivers food pics; and “Office Treats” shows off goodies enjoyed by the editors in their New York City office.

Needs some work: Reader’s Digest, 6,400 followers. With just 11 boards, Reader’s Digest has a good start but needs to step it up to make it in the world of Pinterest. The “Quotable Quotes” and “Fun Food” boards seem to be the most shareable. But outdated boards such as “Christmas Crafts” from 2012 drag down the account because it has so few other boards to explore.


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Alternatives to Jumping into the “Real World” After Graduation

Hannah Hamner

Senior PR Student Hannah Hamner talks about alternatives to graduation

I’m a big advocate of doing as much as you can before settling down. I’m tired of hearing the term the “real world.” Your life is what you make it. Everything you do and find important is “real,” no matter what path you take.

We live in a society that pressures us to find a 9 to 5 job after graduation. Our parents, teachers and fellow students expect it from us. My question is: what happens if we don’t jump right into our field? Are we shunned from the business world because we decided to take some time for ourselves or do something not directly related to our degree?

The answer commonly, I have found, is “no.”

I’m planning on teaching English abroad for six months after graduation. Because this is a non-traditional approach to life after college, I’ve definitely had concerns about my future success, wondering if my hiatus will put me at a disadvantage when entering the workforce.

Half Obscured Sun Costa Rica

‘Half Obscured Sun
http://www.flickr.com/photos/95572727@N00/138007788
Found on flickrcc.net

I’ve been in contact with various professionals through networking events and Kent State courses. Of the professionals I’ve asked, no one has had a negative response. In fact, many of them encouraged me to go off the beaten path, saying they wish they had taken that cross-country road trip or joined that band.

However, professionals were quick to say that you’ll benefit most from your experience if you can apply it your future career, so don’t think of that time as a just vacation period.

Teaching English will help my communication and leadership skills.

I plan on promoting private English lessons by creating a website and social media accounts that reflect my personal brand in addition to hanging flyers and purchasing an ad in a local paper or two. This will be good practice for the public relations world.

The professionals also stressed that doing something out-of-the-box will make you stand out. Not many applicants can say they went to Central America for an extended period of time and founded an ESL company, no matter how small it is. It will also show your passion for new experiences and add a worldly perspective to any PR agency or communications department.

My advice is, if you have any doubts about finding a “normal” job, think of the alternatives. It could benefit you, not only immediately, but in the long run.


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Kohl’s Twitter Wins the “#AdBowl”

English Major Grace Snyder shares her experience on the #adbowl's second screen.

English Major Grace Snyder shares her experience on the #adbowl’s second screen.

The Super Bowl is not only the biggest football game of the year, it is also the biggest day for company advertising. Companies pay top dollar to have their ads played during commercial breaks. Usually these commercials are funny but some years advertisers seem to drop the ball.

In my opinion, this Super Bowl was boring, not only because of the shutout by the Seahawks but also because of the mediocre commercials. There were only a few that I considered memorable.

Due to the lack of excitement, I was glued to my phone and my favorite app, Twitter. While browsing through my Twitter feed, I saw a promoted ad from JC Penney. They seemed to be tweeting numerous typos and were gaining a lot of attention from the misspelled tweets. I was intrigued so I clicked on their Twitter to check it out.

It turns out they were misspelling words on purpose to promote their new mittens. They called it “mitten tweeting.” Basically, the cause of the grammatical errors was because the person typing had on said mittens.

I thought the concept was clever. That is until I saw a genius response from a competing company, Kohl’s. The Kohl’s Twitter account responded to the mitten tweets with a jab that, in my opinion, takes the cake for Super Bowl ads. They suggest that JC Penney try Kohl’s leather texting gloves when tweeting next time. JC Penney got served.

Leather Texting GlovesI was so amused by their response. Kohl’s took advantage of an amazing opportunity to not only show up JC Penney, but they also promoted their own product. In my sheer amazement, I replied to Kohl’s brilliant comeback telling them I could not stop laughing. Then, to my surprise, the Kohl’s account responded to my tweet.

I was very excited to have received a response from the clever company. Not only did Kohl’s make a hilarious social media comeback, they showed their appreciation for my feedback. Kohl’s is a great example of how companies can take advantage of social media advertising. In addition, they show that engaging with other companies can not only be beneficial, it can also be comical.

Looking back at all of the advertisements last night, Kohl’s response to JC Penney is the moment that stuck with me. I name Kohl’s the winner of the “#AdBowl.”


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Networking minus the nerves

Public Relations major Caitlin Potts

Public Relations major Caitlin Potts shares her tips on professional networking for students.

One question we’re asked time and time again in this industry is why we chose to go into the PR field. Every person’s answer tends to be as unique as the individual. Personally, one of my biggest reasons is the forming of relationships.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not just about who you know. PR requires a lot more than that. However, a great deal of this industry involves making professional connections.

A few years ago, the idea of networking terrified me. I’ll admit it can still make me feel nervous or intimidated once in a while. I abide by the two ‘P’s: practice and preparation.

Practice makes perfect. I’ll never forget a few of my beginner networking attempts. Were people nice to me? Yes. Did they hire me? No. Should they have hired me? Oh, definitely not. And that’s okay. I gained experience and tested the PR waters by attending internship fairs and talking to professionals at PRSSA meetings.

Research, Research, Research

If you know you’re meeting with professionals, but don’t know much about them, find out what you can. Check out their LinkedIn pages. Where did they go to school? What former companies did they work for? What are their professional interests? Visit their organization’s website. What clients do they work for? What characteristics set them apart? If you can mention something specific or ask a relevant question about their brand, odds are you’ll impress them. Once you’ve established some knowledge, think about how it might relate to you. This will help when you converse.

It’s all in the handshake

Never underestimate the power of a confident greeting. Look a professional in the eyes with a smile and provide a firm handshake. Flimsy handshakes suggest you’re not ready to meet and greet. Avoid those.

Nail your Elevator Speech

An elevator speech is your go-to when first meeting someone. Hypothetically, imagine yourself walking into an elevator and finding the CEO of your favorite company standing inside.  You want to introduce yourself and refrain from gaping at the person. So what do you say? Try this…

  1. Hi my name is….
  2. I’m a (insert freshman/sophomore/junior/senior) PR major at Kent State
    1. I currently work at… OR
    2. I’m really interested in…

Make small talk relevant

You may only have a minute to catch a professional’s attention. Think with a clear, level-head. Remember you’re allowed to pause for a moment to gather your thoughts before answering questions. Avoid awkward moments. You want to be respectful, but not so professional that you’re boring. Practice comes into play in this part of networking. It may come very easy, or you may need a few trial runs, but you’ll get there.

Old School is timeless

Any PR professional will tell you thank you notes are important. Whether it’s an after an interview, a meeting, or they’ve done a favor for you, show your gratitude. If you can hand-write your appreciation and send it via snail-mail, it generates a good impression. Avoid email in this case, unless it’s your only option.

Networking leads to opportunities. When you connect with others, regardless of the industry, a window of opportunity presents itself. While it can be scary, it gets easier over time. Just remember to practice and prepare.