Flash Communications

Tales from a student-PR agency at Kent State University


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Planning for 2012 YouToo Conference

Kasey Fahey, Flash CommunicationsThanks to guest blogger Kasey Fahey, senior public relations major and student assistant at Flash Communications, for providing this post about the upcoming YouToo Social Media Conference. Kasey shares how she and the Flash team are helping with online promotion and media relations.  Flash is working closely with Jennifer Kramer in the College of Communication and Information, along with the 2012 YouToo Planning Committee to make the event a success. This year’s focus is mobile and measurement. Be sure to register now for the event on Friday, April 13. 

For the past two months, Flash Communications has been hard at work on the 2012 YouToo Social Media Conference. We have been working side-by-side with other committee members to ensure that the fifth annual conference is just as successful as the first. Here’s a peek at what Ryan Collins and I have been up to:

  • Wrote scripts for the conference opening, welcome remarks, room managers and speaker introductions
  • Pitched more than 25 bloggers, newspapers, magazines and speakers to gain more conference coverage and audience outreach
  • Wrote two press releases and distributed them to local media
  • Arranged for students to create multimedia elements during the conference
  • Arranged for students to act as media liaisons and live-Tweet during the conference
  • Updated the conference website including organizing sponsors and speaker bios and building a newsroom and conference schedule
  • Reserved the Kent State University banner for the conference day

I currently serve as the assistant to coordinator Stefanie Moore at Flash Communications. I’m also the account supervisor for a communications campaign for AkronReads for the senior seminar campaigns course. I will graduate in August 2012 after interning at Lief & Karson Communications and Ashtabula County Medical Center this summer.

Ryan was recently elected as the online media manager for PRSSA Kent. He was also a member of the 2012 PRSSA Bateman Case Study Competition. Ryan graduates in May 2013, and he is the author of the blog Not Straight Up.

Fellow Flash members Trenton Chavez and Olivia Arnette worked on the conference as well by analyzing tweets and pitching blogs.

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So, do you plan to attend?


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What I Wish I Knew About Internships

Sasha Chinchar, Flash Communications, Kent State University Thank you to guest blogger Sasha Chinchar, a senior public relations major, for writing this post about her experience with internships.

I’ve heard internships mentioned over and over again since I started college. Everyone kept telling me I would need one to graduate, but I had no idea just how important internships would be. Although I knew getting an internship was required, I didn’t realize I would need, not just the one to graduate, but multiple internships to learn what can’t be taught in the classroom: experience. Although I’m an intern at Flash Communications, which is my first internship and has given me invaluable experience, it doesn’t fulfill my internship requirement to graduate. This means I have to find a summer internship, and fast. Being a senior and on the search for an internship, I have learned some lessons the hard way. These are some things about internships I wish someone would have told me earlier:

Get started now

Now that it is my senior year in college, I know I made a big mistake; I waited till too long to start gaining internship experience. What I didn’t realize is that students should start doing internships as soon as they can. My sophomore and junior year I thought no one would want me as an intern because I just started my PR courses and didn’t feel like my skills were developed enough. Little did I know, many companies are waiting for an intern to help them and eager to help students grow. After all, growing is what internships are for. Besides, you don’t want to be in your senior year searching for an internship just so you can graduate.

Don’t do the minimum

Yes, an internship is required to graduate as a PR major and in most other majors, but an internship can give you so much more than that. Internships give you the real-world experience and help you find what you want to do. There are many different paths you can take in PR and how are you supposed to know exactly what you want to do after graduation until you’ve experienced it? Taking more than one internship will help you find what field you want to work in. It will also help build your resume to allow you to get better internships or even great job after graduation.

There’s no such thing as a “perfect” internship

Your first internship may not be your most ideal, but I learned that without experience, it makes it difficult to obtain the more competitive ones. Although you may start with an internship with no pay or few hours, it is important to use these internships to build your resume and get the internships you really want. There is no such thing as the perfect internship, but with the right experience you can get the one pretty close to it.

There are so many fun and excited opportunities for internships, so don’t wait and get started on building your own competitive edge.

Kent State PR students: If you are still looking for an internship, Flash Communications is now taking applications for Fall 2012. Email smoore1@kent.edu. Also, check out the internship database, where new internships opportunities are posted regularly.

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What do you think about Sasha’s tips on internships?


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So, what is that Pinterest website, anyway?l

Trent Chavez

Thank you to guest blogger Trenton Chavez, a junior public relations major, for writing this post about Pinterest. Trent started working at Flash Communications this semester.

THE GIST – Social mediums are constantly popping up everywhere, it seems. Usually, they do not pick up, and Facebook and Twitter quickly stomp them down. Pinterest, the new kid on the block, is attracting attention from social media lovers with its image collection design.

So, what is Pinterest, anyway? Pinterest is a website that contains collaborative “online pinboards.” The new medium allows users with similar interests to attach pictures to these pinboards for others to see. Categories range from art to fashion to recipes to wedding ideas.

So, why has Pinterest received praise, while other mediums quickly fail? Personally, I believe it comes down to people liking to feel they’re contributing to something. Because the pinboards allow users to add personal or inspirational pictures, a sense of contribution is evident.

THE PR SIDE OF THINGS – Being a public relations major, I’m always thinking of things from a communications standpoint. “How can Pinterest be used in a PR aspect?” was the first question that came to my mind when I began writing this post.

For organizations, gaining attention on a website with many images may be a difficult task – the competition of attracting viewers’ eyes; however, with Pinterest picking up momentum, PR professionals need to start thinking creatively.

The statistics of the social medium are impressive. Pinterest is the 60th most-visited website in the United States; Its page visits jumped from 10 million to 17 million last month; And its Alexa rank is 129. Alexa rank is a web ranking system based on visits. What does all this mean, you may ask? It means opportunity.

To be successful, public relations professionals must shape ideas to the target audiences’ interests. Need help generating ideas of how to use Pinterest to highlight your organization? Check out 7 ways to use Pinterest to promote your business on PR Daily.

Part of Pinterest’s success can be attributed to its invite-only signup. By keeping the registration invite-only, the medium is able to keep the user-base contained to target audiences. Exclusivity also makes Pinterest’s users feel special. Success is all about making the audience feel special, right?

Along with the exclusivity, Pinterest’s website used to state, “Pin thoughtfully.”  This statement ties back to the importance of re-pins. Only relevant pins will be on the page of your interest. Bryan Landers of Quora also named Pinterest as a “community-centric” website, which I believe is very fitting.

A social medium wouldn’t be complete without the ability to respond, now would it? Like other social platforms, Pinterest allows users to comment and like pinned items.

IN CLOSING – Like I said before, to be successful, communications teams need to remain current on ways to reach key audiences. Pinterest allows its users to come together as a community and build pinboards. Because of the community-driven atmosphere and ability to select interests, the medium is a great way to target audiences.

Pinterest is gaining momentum fast. It is even picking up some steam in the Flash Communications office. Get to know some of the staff better by checking out our pinboards board

I always find it interesting when a newcomer is able to “make it” in the digital world. New ideas, creative thinking, passion, and a lotta’ luck will take a new online tool far.

Why do you love Pinterest?


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Confessions of an Ex-Journalism Major

Ryan Colins, Flash Communications studentThanks to guest blogger Ryan Collins, a senior public relations major at Kent State University, for sharing his experiences about making the switch from journalism to public relations. 

Anyone in the wrong major knows all about the sinking feeling you get when you calculate how soon graduation is. It’s scary to think of receiving a degree in something you don’t enjoy! That feeling also comes around when you schedule more classes you don’t really enjoy or when you have to look for an internship or job you don’t think you’ll like. It’s clear you need something new, but what if you don’t know where to turn?

I’ve been there.

PR Button Source:  Cision Blog http://blog.us.cision.com/I was a journalism major for almost two years. I knew I loved to write as a kid, so I thought journalism was a natural choice for me. I tried all kinds of student media, but I never felt totally satisfied. Thankfully, with the help of some caring friends, I decided to take a leap of faith and finally become an ex-journalism major. I switched to public relations.

Ever since I switched, I have set myself on a crash course learning PR.  I need to buy a button like this and wear it all the time:

I got a job working at Flash Communications, the student PR agency in Kent State’s University Communication and Marketing department. Here are some of my favorite things about working here:

  • I confess: My favorite thing about working in public relations is all the positivity! Here at Flash, we’re focused on all the fabulous things happening at Kent State University every day. I love that about PR. We’re happy people.
  • I confess: Being a study abroad alum, I love writing stories focused on other countries. I recently wrote a story about a KSU student who visited Jamaica and another story about a class that takes KSU students to Costa Rica over winter breaks. Working in public relations allows me to tell the Kent State community how beneficial it is to study abroad and see the world.
  • I confess: Working at Flash is special to me because I get to work with top communication professionals at Kent State. I get stories and feedback directly from people who I respect. I’m learning how to write for different publications around the university. Being here is a learning experience, it’s not just a job.
  • I confess: I love the intangible feeling of being fulfilled. My public relations classes and my job at Flash inspire me! PR motivates me to work hard. Even though this field is competitive, I love what I do. A career that emphasizes Twitter clearly is amazing.

If you want to be an ex-(insert your current major here) and switch to public relations, visit the Public Relations Student Society of America’s (PRSSA) website to learn more.

PS. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports employment of PR specialists is expected to grow 24 percent from 2008-2018.  Once again, I love this field for its positive outlook!


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Flash Communications is Hiring

Only five weeks remain. Fall semester is almost over, and we’re already planning for spring 2012. To help create awareness about Flash Communications and the application process, Flash students Heather Thomas and Kasey Fahey put together this video. Starring in the video are current Flash Communications students.  And they’re singing their hearts out.

I don’t know about you, but I’d apply at a place like this.

Check it out.


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PR Students Head to National Conference to Present

It’s true – Flash Communications students do get out of the office! Last week, Sarah Lack and Heather Thomas traveled to Orlando, Florida, for the 2011 Public Relations Student Society of America National Conference.

As part of PRSSA Kent, Sarah presented with four other officers during the Chapter Development Sessions on Friday. Their presentation was all about how to “Cash in on Communication.” They shared fundraising best practices and tips from professionals about how to execute a successful fundraiser. Check out their best practices slides and the video they produced.

And here’s the video. A lot of this was produced at Flash Communications (special thanks to Nick and Phil who work in University Communications and Marketing for their cameo performances). Oh, and those adorable children in scene one? They’re mine!

In addition to the opportunity to present to other PRSSA chapters from across the country, Heather and Sarah attended breakout sessions with top industry professionals to learn about the ins-and-outs of being a PR professional. From social media to crisis communications and travel and entertainment to healthcare PR, the sessions covered a wide range of topics relating to young professionals in the public relations and strategic communications industries.

Sarah and Heather shared some key takeaways from their favorite sessions.

Crisis Communications: Confronting Reality with Strategy

  • Public expectations have risen since the Tylenol murders of the 1980s. Companies must respond faster than ever and be aware that the story is never-ending, 24/7 coverage. If you wait for traditional media, you’re too late.
  • Crisis is about actions, not solutions. Definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over again and expecting different results. Do not fail to recognize the need to change goals during a crisis.
  • In crisis, you need to control your narrative. It’s about hero vs. villain –which are you?
  • Perception trumps reality 100% of the time in crisis. Audiences believe what they hear first.
  • Companies are tying risk terms (ex: “oil spill” for BP) in with SEO and SEM to ensure that when people search these terms, BP’s side of the story comes up first.

Corporate vs. Agency: Finding Your Place

  • Agency PR is about working with like-minded people. As agencies integrate with other disciplines, agency professionals must be up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies.
  • While agency professionals may work on several different clients in different industries, corporate professionals know one industry intimately –competition, trends, and their own company.
  • Corporate PR is usually a set work schedule, while agency professionals tend to be the “workaholic” type. As a result, it’s easier to move up the management ladder in an agency.
  • In both industries, it’s important to practice ethical behaviors and act with transparency.
  • No matter where you choose to go, stay involved in PRSSA/PRSA!

Travel and Tourism Session:

  • Make sure you’re getting your key messages out to overcome any misconceptions about the travel destination or resort.
  • Take advantage of media relations and local media to get the message out about a resort opening or other event. The local media and opinion leaders will spread the word to the broader audience.
  • Be creative with a small budget and other limitations. Limit expensive, over the top demonstrations and gags during a launch, and go for something more creative and intimate.

Entertainment PR session:

  • Celebrity endorsements can significantly help further a brand and the brand message. Having one of the Kardashians endorse a product will have 50% more visibility.
  • Making relationships with the media is crucial for establishing a positive brand identity amongst the public.

PR Kent students not only absorbed valuable information, but also they had a chance to network and bond with their peers. Ah, takes me back to our trip to National Conference in Nashville, Tenn., many, many years ago. We stayed at the Opryland Hotel. What a blast.

Thanks to Sarah Lack and Heather Thomas for contributing to this post.


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Back-to-the-Office Etiquette

Be a professional in the officeSummer has been grand, but it’s time to start thinking about fall semester! We have a great new crew of public relations students, including two who are returning from last semester. I’m in the process of developing a Flash Communications Guidebook to show the newbies the ropes. My assistant, Sarah Lack, suggested we create a more comprehensive guide than my “one sheeter” to help answer questions, especially when I’m not in the office. I thought it was a great idea. I love it when students help streamline processes.

It’s easy for us to get under each other’s skin when we work in such close quarters and when the stress of the semester is on our shoulders, so I’ll be sure to include reminders about office etiquette in the guide. We already have a bulletin board in our office with reminders of what it means to be a professional.

To kick off the discussion about what not to do in the office to drive each other bonkers, here’s a post from Ragan’s about the 12 Most Annoying Workplace Habits. Here’s a quick recap:

1. Loud talking

2. Reheating last night’s salmon in the microwave

3. Whispering

4. Bare feet

5. Saying “excuse me?” in response to every comment or question

6. Interrupting

7. Complaining

8. Correcting people; no one likes a know-it-all

9. Micromanaging

10. Chewing with your mouth open

11. Taking cell phone calls in meetings

12. Intruding on personal space

What would you add to this list?