Sunday, July 29, 2012

One week, three historical events unfolding

This week was major in terms of media. From the NCAA's Penn State ruling to the alleged theater shooting killer's first court appearance to the more recent opening ceremony for the London 2012 Olympics, media have been very, very busy.

It would, of course, seem as though worldwide Olympic games received the most media attention. And among the other controversial and tragic events, it truly has: the opening ceremony already set record-breaking viewership, totaling 40.7 million viewers and launching this summer's opening ceremony to the most viewed in Olympic history, surpassing the previous record of 39.8 million people that watched the 1996 games in Atlanta commence.

What I've noticed about each of these recent events is that they are all ongoing. They're hardly a one-time article read or fading Twitter trend; they'll be featured through countless media channels for a while. While the Olympic games last a short two weeks, the records set, metals won and countries honored will endure long after the closing ceremony.

As for Penn State, the penalties announced have banned football from bowl games for the next four years, charged a fine of more money than I can fathom, stripped the Nittany Lions of winnings in the past 14 seasons, and reclaimed ten scholarships per season over the next four years. Fines can be paid, football can still be played and four years can fly by faster than imaginable. But the reputation of Penn State--not solely that of its football program, its board and its coaches who have been brought into the scandal limelight--is already generating long term predictions of recovery and if that is even a possibility. There is a core value system at stake here: a college culture that place football over core academic values of a higher education institution. And that is ultimately the basis for the NCAA's penalties, as explained by NCAA President Mark Emmert. These terms were accepted as a guiding compass by Penn State President Rodney Erickson, the first step of crisis communications.

The alleged theater shooter James Holmes appeared in court last Monday and is due to be formally charged tomorrow. It is rumored he will receive the death sentence, as he murdered 12 innocent people and injured dozens more during the premiere of The Dark Knight Rises. As tragic as it was and continues to be, the backstory and possible motives behind his senseless act are being speculated. Personally, it surprised me to find endless articles focusing on the life and any supposed mishaps of James Holmes because people try to rationalize these types of events; they want to know exactly why. The timeline at this moment can not be determined, but it might be a year until he is put on trial.

This week marked events that will go down in history and, simultaneously, the history of public relations, as each situation offers opportunities to analyze strategic communication, relationships with audiences, and reputations. Though as we see each event unfold before us, we will further be able to learn something more, whether it may it be through the trial of a relentless murderer, the reputation rebuild at Penn State, or the buzz generated by the most social Olympic games we've ever had the technological luxury to witness.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Misinterpreted Trending Topic Leads to PR Nightmare

Many would agree that Twitter has became the quickest way for people to get wind of various news stories. It acts as an outlet for all people to come together and express both grievances and words of support regarding certain topics and occurrences. 

Evidently, the heartbreaking tragedy that occurred in Aurora, Colorado Thursday night was yet another heavily tweeted about topic. Friday afternoon, The Huffington Post called attention to a particular post that demonstrates the severity of a tasteless tweet:

When I initially saw this, I was shocked. When I awoke Friday morning, the story was already all over the news and various social media outlets. Could CelebBoutique have really been that clueless to the situation, or were they perhaps attempting to profit over this heart-wrenching catastrophe?

The Huffington Post article then goes on to discuss the removal of the tweet by CelebBoutique who responded with several regretful tweets. The apologies indicated that they were very remorseful for the "insensitive tweet" and misunderstood the trend because they had not been aware of the reasoning behind it. Finally, they tweeted that their "PR is not US based and had not checked the reason for the trend". 

Although this does appear to have been a very disastrous accident, is it possible companies and people do take advantage of opportunities similar to this one from time to time? Additionally, the fact of the matter is that social media posts contain whatever message the user decides to exhibit and once something is on the web, it will exist forever and can be detrimental to a company's reputation. CelebBoutique may have removed the Tweet within the hour, but people will remember this for a long time and it could possibly hurt their sales.

To avoid a similar situation, always check the trending topic beforehand if you are even a bit unsure as to why it is trending. Although most of our tweets are not being broadcast to thousands, an intelligent and carefully reasoned social media presence should always be maintained. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

CNN and Facebook Partner to Create an Interactive, Social Election

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Coverage of November's presidential election has already become a regularly reported topic for most news outlets. However, with the announcement of the partnering of CNN and Facebook to create the most "interactive and social" election experience the nation has ever seen, the excitement surrounding the campaign has sufficiently increased. This decision will undoubtedly get the nation more involved in the campaign and encourage those that do not normally pay much attention to tune in and voice their opinions on political matters.

In this agreement, both CNN and Facebook will benefit immensely. CNN has hit an all-time 21 year low in their ratings and have been awaiting the opportunity to converge their TV and digital presence for quite some time now. They have predicted that the 2012 Election will be both an efficient and seamless transition into this newly popular media outlet because it will unite CNN's on-air, mobile, and online audiences with Facebook's over 160 million US users. Facebook will see great profitability because they will now be equipped with sought-after date regarding the nation's political thoughts and feelings that political scientists and data collectors will be willing to attain for years to come.

The most influential aspect of this agreement is the new "I'm Voting" app that has been created. This application will allow users to show their support for certain candidates and voice opinions regarding various topics publicly on Facebook Timelines, news feeds, and the real-time ticker. CNN is hoping tht this will encourage others to participate that would not normally do so. 

Additionally, Facebook will soon begin to issue surveys to those users of voting-age in crucial US locations. These metrics will be measured and CNN will further break it down by specific state to state analysis. CNN hopes that this will increase the national exchange of ideas. Furthermore, they anticipate  that users will interact through the usage of  the "I'm Voting" app while various topics are being discussed on television which will ultimately make the election an entirely interactive experience for all.

Although I am not sure how I feel about having political surveys appear on my Facebook timeline, I can already foresee the heated discussions it will encourage among my outspoken Facebook friends. As a person who probably is not as in-tuned to the political world as I should be, this could be an extremely beneficial change. As Joel Kaplan, Facebook Vice President-U.S Public Policy stated, "Innovations like Facebook can help transform informational experience into a social one for the American people". With the impact social media has already proven to have on various campaigns, this partnership will indisputably change the way the nation regards political discussions leading up to a presidential election.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

North Road Communications Update from Firm Director, Julie Moller

This past year was our very first as an established student-run PR firm at Marist. Our first year has been a great success; we ended the year with three clients in the Dutchess County community and successfully aided in the production of two client events. But now is the time to be thinking about how we can further our success. One of the challenges of starting up a student-run firm is figuring out what kinds of services can be offered to the client.

We could offer very minimal services during our first year because we had zero funding and almost no experience to work with. Many of us had yet to even have an internship in the PR field. This is why I look forward to the new school year. I think that with everyone’s resumes expanding and our experience in the PR field increasing, as a team we will be able to offer not only more services, but more valuable work.

My goal is that we take our internship experiences – the good, the bad, and the unglamorous – and implement those lessons into our playbook for North Road. I’m hoping that each returning member – and future members – of the firm will bring with them the valuable knowledge that they have gained at their respective internships this summer. Areas I know we can expand on are in perfecting a press release, use of a wider range of PR related programs such as Cision Point and even Photoshop, and how to interact with clients in all sorts of situations.

I’m looking forward to sharing what I’ve learned from my internship experience this summer as well as seeing what our firm members will be bringing to the table.

Twitter: Mixing professional and personal content

The Twitter logo, a songbird whose name is apparently Larry (true story: check it out), received a fabulous makeover in June. So why not give your own Twitter handle a makeover, too?

As young, soon-to-be PR pros, we should be keeping our social media sites up-to-date while adding a dash of our own personality. While offers company strategy 
Image via
to tweet fresh and new content, I've adapted some of the suggestions to cater to college students in their quest to be ahead of the Twitter curve.

  • Tweet interesting articles. If you read something worth sharing, tweet it. Sharing content that was produced by someone other than yourself shifts the focus; followers might be bored of solely reading your own content.
  • Share resources. If you recently discovered a PR tool that is worth mentioning, let your followers know. If there's a new iPhone app that is useful, tell your followers about it.
  • If you blog, share it. Tweet links to new blog posts, or even older ones, to share it with as many people as you can. Hence the reason we share these blog posts on our Twitter handle @MaristPRSSA, as well.
  • Everyone loves inspirational quotes. So, if you've come across one that is relevant and uplifting, go right ahead and tweet it.
  • Share industry news. Doing this alerts followers that you are up-to-date with all things PR.
  • Link to industry blogs, or even ones you are interested in. Let followers in on where you receive information, PR-related or not. You can incorporate personal interests by sharing that witty, ever hilarious post on Thought Catalog.
  • Answer questions. If you are following industry professionals or your favorite companies and they ask a question, engage them and answer it.
  • Participate in #FF. Recently realized that #FF stands for 'Follow Friday' (I know, late in the game for me). Twitter is all about sharing content; if you follow a handle you think others should follow too, give them a shout out.
  • Tweet your interests. This is what makes you unique. I have come to understand that while we need to maintain a professional Twitter handle, it is completely acceptable to let your personality shine through. Having the right combination of professional and personal tweets will be beneficial to all of your followers ranging from friends to industry professionals to professors.

These are a few ways to update your Twitter handle so your followers are constantly receiving fresh, new content. Can you think of other ways to be professional and personal on Twitter?