Flash Communications

Tales from a student-PR agency at Kent State University

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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.

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Social media and personal branding from a college student’s perspective

Junior PR student, Bryan Webb, shares a few tips on personal branding from a college student's perspective.

Junior PR student, Bryan Webb, shares a few tips on personal branding from a college student’s perspective.

Ever since MySpace surfaced when I was in middle school, I have been an avid social media user. I can’t quite figure out why social media intrigues me so much, but it certainly has something to do with the networking aspect of it.

I’m a person who likes to get out, meet new people and take advantage of professional opportunities as they arise. I haven’t always been like that, but networking through social media – and in real life – has helped me gain confidence and, more importantly, experience in what I want to spend my post-graduation life doing.

Immediately when you network through social media, you begin to build a personal brand. That is, your online presence (whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or blog sites) is the beginning of your mark and reputation.

I’m sure I’ve had my fair share of regrettable Tweets between eighth grade and now. But building a personal brand on Twitter requires young adults, like me, to be very conscious of what we send out to the world.

The most fascinating aspect of this whole social media and personal branding craze, to me, is Twitter. I’ve had my account since 2006, so I’ve seen the website come a long way with the addition of retweets, hashtags and mentions.

I have written for multiple publications thus far in my college career, and I have learned many things. Although I am no expert, I came up with three things you could be doing with your Twitter account to maximize your personal branding:

  1. Use hashtags.
    People, and especially companies, search specific hashtags on Twitter multiple times a day. Look at some professional and company accounts to see how they are using hashtags. Hashtags are also commonly used for live-tweeting and tracking live events, although there are a few cons to live-tweeting. Be careful not to overuse hashtags, though. I’ve always gone by the rule of three, maximum, per tweet.
  2. Mentions are key.
    I write for Black Squirrel Radio, and over the summer I made a list of “Ten Country Songs You Should Be Listening to This Summer.” I tweeted the article out to every artist on the list and, by doing that, I got a reply and retweet from one of the artists. Avid fans also search Twitter for mentions of their favorite artists. That list ended up being my most viewed article of the summer. Most companies also check their mentions and sometimes engage in conversation with their followers. (You may even get a new follower from it.)
  3. Tweet links and information about your desired industry.
    This is something potential employers may be looking for, and it shows them that you’re dedicated to what you want to do. It also shows that you’re in-the-know of what’s happening in your industry. And who knows, you might be able to Tweet your way to your next job.

As a junior in college, I still have a lot to learn about personal branding and utilizing social media in the most effective ways. Getting a head start, though, never hurts and I believe that you can always learn more.

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What are you really getting out of your education?


With the beginning of the new semester comes a new batch of students to Flash Communications. As I write this, we’re just wrapping up our third week of the semester.

Already I sense the excitement they emote about new classes, this new job, other internships, graduation and – of course – starting their careers.

Some of them are too cool to admit it, but some of them are openly stating it: “I can’t believe we’re graduating this semester…” I remember the feeling (yes, it was a long time ago), a sense of excitement and dread and introspection in the form of “am I prepared for this?”

And that’s what your education is supposed to do: Prepare you for this. And we are doing this, but I’m not certain you know that.

One thing I’ve been hearing lately from students at work and in class is “how does this apply to me?” and I find it a tad disturbing. Oh, sure, there are the obvious subjects and tasks we cover in class, creating media lists, writing exercises, media and blogger outreach, developing SMART objectives, etc. But there are so many other concepts, lessons and skills we teach that seem to go over the heads of many students.

So let me assure you of this, students. It applies to you. Whatever it is, if it’s taught in one of our JMC classes, it applies to you in some way. You may not apply it on the first day of your job or even within the first year, but when you’re suddenly asked to concept and design an event or put together a strategic plan framework for a new client based on an obscure problem statement, you will start to recognize the “hidden” value of your education. Our classes are designed to prepare you. Our lessons are designed to challenge you. Our discussions are designed to inspire you. Ask some alumni; I think it works.

So my suggestions to you: Go to a conference. Go to a networking event. Join a club. Be an officer. Go on interviews (informational or employment).Go to a job fair. All of these will help you. And remember, you get more out of it, when you put something into it. So turn on your brains and explore. It will pay off.

photo credit: j.o.h.n. walker via photopin cc