Saturday, April 30, 2011

Walk the walk, talk the talk

Social media. We have all heard about the benefits and downfalls but this week Katherine Bradford and Lee Gills talked about social media from a new perspective. Bradford and Gills approached the subject in two very different ways, they both stressed the importance of social media and online communications but Bradford approached social media as a personal professional tool and Gills approached social media as an economic tool. These two approaches mixed appearance and business, approach and bottom line, and revealed to the class a way to use social networking as a means of professional and capital development.

Linkedin and Facebook are significant tools in the professional world today. These tools help you link and expand your professional as well as personal network, however Bradford explained to the class the importance of knowing when and how to use them. Her advice on how to best represent ourselves as professionals gave us insight to what our future employers will be looking for and how we can appeal to them. I think the underlying message of her lesson was to always be ready and on your game. Always have your game face on because you never know who you will run in to and when an acquaintance could turn into the gateway to the job of your dreams. That is why social media is such an important networking tool because it allows you to put yourself out there and show everyone what you have to offer.

Gills took a different approach to social media, he explained to the class how he has used this new technology craze and capitalized on it. He has formed a method that allows him to use social media to make other companies more effective and efficient. This system has allowed him to use his communication and messaging skills and marry them with his passion for sales. He has devised a way to incorporate creativity into his everyday business plan. In all of the lectures we have heard this semester we have never been exposed to the “business” aspect of the industry. The most important part of his job is knowing how to approach the C-Suite and sending messages that appeal to their business goals. This perspective proves that communications lends to more than just the marketing arm, it contributes and helps achieve the bottom line of all business transactions.

These two very different approaches to social media broke the monotony of our usual lessons on social media in our other classes. We usually learn Facebook is a great way to keep in contact with friends and family and Linkedin is a great networking tool, but we have never really been exposed to how and when to use them. Bradford and Gills allowed our class to grasp the importance of social media and taught us how to “walk the walk” and “talk the talk”.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Communication, It's a Balancing Act

As communicators, our main focal point is our message. OUR message. What WE want to say. On Wednesday, Frank Roby, CEO of Concero Global, revealed to our communications class that it is not all about what WE want to say; it’s more about the message someone will receive. If someone receives our message and interprets it in a different way, well then that can be a big problem.

Perception in communications is key and a lot of messages get lost in translation. Lately I feel like my messages have become a little lost in translation between roommates, family, friends, etc. But what I took away from Roby’s lecture was if I could focus on a balance and not go into survival mode every time there is a conflict or misunderstanding then my communications can be a lot more successful.

The key concept of this lesson is to always keep a balance and create stability. That’s really the point of communications, isn’t it? Relationships strive for balance and communications creates the balance. If we can learn how to use our voice and words as a power for good rather than combat then we can accomplish a lot more. If we as communicators can nail this lesson then we can apply it to any problem or issue and it can be resolved. From wars between countries and wars over who does the dishes, communication and a level head can solve anything.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The bonds of words

Last night, I had the opportunity to be in the presence of my CCPA peers, faculty and advisory board at the annual Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Awards Celebration and Banquet. Being a sophomore, this was my second time attending the event and both times have truly been an inspirational experience.

As I was sitting in a room full of people that I spend the majority of my time with I began to realize my many blessings. These blessings became apparent as each of the speakers took the stage and expressed their gratitude for this program, its faculty and the students who have championed through it together. In one of the speeches, our old department chair (my first CCPA teacher) Dr. McPhail, wrote a letter to the students of this division. In it he called us his "warriors of rhetoric" and I completely agree with that title.

This program has pushed me to my limits, exposed me to my weaknesses and taught me how to overcome them with perseverance. CCPA has not only opened my mind to academic lessons, it has provided me with a community, a safe place and a family. My CCPA family inspires me everyday to not only be a better academic but to be a better person.
The people in this program amaze me with their selflessness as well as their ambition. I am proud to say I am associated with this group of people. I am proud to say I will know the future Prime Minister of North Korea, the next champion in humanitarian efforts and numerous future Senator's and CEO's. I know everyone's successes in the future will not be taken for granted because we have all been exposed to the value of hard work and the necessity for camaraderie.

The bonds established in this program will remain throughout our personal and professional lives. Last night, our bonds grew through the heart warming speeches, the recognition of successes and the shared passion of knowing that one day we all will change the world, with the simple power of our words.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Maintaining Reputation Opens All Doors

To most people public relations means constantly keeping in contact with the media, pushing your product, promoting your image etc etc. And when I say “most people” I was in this category a week ago until Matt Gobush shed light on what he does as a Corporate Communications Manager for ExxonMobil. He explained to our class their approach to communications and their targeted audience and goal, which is mainly policy makers and focusing on public advocacy. His main goal as a communicator is to increase the company’s reputation and maintain a favorable general impression.

As he was explaining this, I finally realized that PR and communications isn’t just about writing press releases or constantly reaching out to the media. The goal of any communications practitioner is building and maintaining a positive reputation. At the end of the day reputation is the one thing that can make or break a company. Reputation is everything.

I found it extremely interesting that he builds ExonnMobil’s reputation in a round a bout way. They don’t pinpoint the general public and spend money on advertisements, showing their CSR or their quality of business. They focus on maintaining good government relations and positive advocacy campaigns. This has offered an entirely new scope of communications to me. I always wanted to somehow tie in my communications skills and work with government relations; I just didn’t know that was possible under the public relations umbrella. This new perspective has showed me that communications is a field where anything is possible.

I know most of my blogs have been about “the journey” and “the uncertainty” of my future. But, now I realize that communications is a field where you can use all of the tools in your toolbox and apply them to any professional field. The determining factor of success in communications is the ability to maintain and build a positive reputation. And if you can master that you can use that skill anywhere you go.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Life is short. Work happy.

Life is short. Work happy. These are the wise words of Norman Brinker, who is also known as the “god-father of casual dining”. On Wednesday we learned the in’s and out’s of crisis communications in the Brinker family. Along with learning the demands and struggles in crisis communications, Maureen Locus also focused on the Brinker family's corporate culture.

She explained to our class that Brinker consists of an open, warm family atmosphere even in the midst of dealing with stressful crisis situations. They refer to each other as “team members” and “chiliheads”. I think this is a very refreshing kind of corporate setting. When I think of most major corporations I think of people walking around in shirts and ties, I rarely think of "chiliheads". I think this very casual and welcoming corporate setting is especially conducive in crisis communications because it gives a sense of trust and community in the workplace.

This type of community is a necessity especially in the Brinker family because of their small communications team. I couldn't imagine dealing with crisis situations across the nation with just three other people. However, I think the Brinker family makes this possible by "working happy" and having personable and trustworthy relationships with all of the "team members".

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Does she have an extra thats just her phone

Last Wednesday Robert Martin from MM2 Public Relations came to our class and was speaking about the growing importance of smart phones. As I listened I kept thinking what’s so great about smart phones. Then I realized that my phone was not just a device that I used to call home every Sunday night, it has become an extra appendage of body. My blackberry is literally attached to my person at all times. It has become a kind of security blanket that links me to every aspect of my life.

As I pondered my dependency on this rectangle of metal and plastic I began to think about the days when people didn’t rely on their cell phones for the latest gossip or breaking news, the days when people received news at 5:00 pm everyday or heard the latest office scandal at the water cooler. This brought on the thought, are we too connected? Have we reached the point where we have become prisoners to technology?

Think about it, fifteen years ago when my parents left the office at five they went home, had dinner with my family and enjoyed a relaxing evening. Now, when they leave the office my mom and dad's phones are buzzing off the hook with emails from clients half way around the world, text messages from their employees or frantic phone calls from their assistants. They are never out of reach unless they literally throw their phones out the window, because heaven forbid they ever turn them off. I think because we rely so much on our phones and technology and this constant obsession of being connected we are depersonalizing our relationships, whether it be work or personal.

I know that I would be a huge hypocrite if I said that I wish we could revert back to the “water cooler” days because I love being constantly connected via my phone and other technology and I too am guilty of being a “crackberry” user, however I do wish I could find a balance between electronic and face-to-face conversation. I want to be able to see the expression on my friends face when they tell me what’s going on in their lives. Who knows if this is possible anymore with our dependency on technology, I guess maybe I need to invest in an Iphone so I can do “Facetime”…


The irony of my dependency of my smart phone, is I thought it would be a good idea to do this from my Blackberry to further prove my point....It saved to drafts instead of posting...and I just noticed.. maybe smart phones aren't that great after all.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Behold the power of research!

The game of poker involves a little luck but a lot of skill, just like the world of PR. The PR world is dominated by expertise and strategic thinking, and that is why Burson-Marsteller is one of the best agencies in the business.

Mike Lake spoke to our class on Wednesday evening and explained what differentiated Burson-Marsteller from other agencies. He emphasized that their evidence-based approach allows them to not only tell their clients but show them the facts, which solidifies their campaign. The team at Burson-Marsteller makes it a point to be an expert in every campaign they run and embed their research in their messages.

The emphasis on research and strategy really got me thinking about my future jobs. Whether I go into the agency, corporate, or the political world of pr, research will be the foundation for my success. I don't know one intelligent thing about poker but as a PR professional I need to know when to hold em, fold em or ante up.

This ability to acquire such a vast amount of knowledge about various companies, products and people showed me how unique this industry is. In most professions you are an expert at your trade and it stops there. You have a limited supply of knowledge and you are expected to soak all of it up. In the world I am stepping in to, I will be able to become an expert at my craft and develop a knowledge base on a variety of different things. The possibilities in this profession are endless.

I believe with the evidence-based approach that as a PR professional our work is legitimized. Research is the foundation of this industry and it is the only way a newbie like me can succeed. With the tools of effective research and strategy a budding PR professional can become unstoppable.