My new normal: An ode to service-learning (as told a PR pre-professional).


It is so difficult to think that this course— this difficultly interactive course— is almost over. I remember my classmate and Cinq Communications partner, Megan, telling me about this course. She said we should take it together, but after seeing the 30+ pages of syllabi, I wanted to back out. I wanted it just to be an easy blowoff class, but I’m at a point in my college career where learning skills is the most crucial. If you threw me in a PR writing-based position before this course, I would have crashed and burned. The writing was difficult, and rather tedious at times, but the repetition and continuity of the coursework only helped us improve in the end. We were given a constant stream of assignments, and expected to write them while we were still working with a client. For some, this included this course and its components, work, extra curricula and the other 12-15 hours they take as a student. ImageJensen never let up though. She just smiled as we through exhausted dark and red eyed glares and assigned us something else. It worked though. That constant barrage of assignments sharpened me up to be a great PR writer. And the best part is that I can now apply what I’ve learned to my MC 4005 course next semester.

…And then there was the service-learning aspect. I’m not too sure what the capstone PR course will bring next semester, but I’m almost certain that I’m prepared for it. Some of us ran a mini-campaign, but others were close to running a full fledged campaign. Though our experiences with Susan G. Komen and SCVNGR didn’t go the way Cinq Communications hoped it could be, I still learned in the end. Nothing is ever perfect is the grueling world of public relations. We disagreed with many of their ideas, but we were able to develop some great ones of our own. They hated immense technology, but we were able to open their eyes to the power of social media. It was difficult to work through an intern to communicate with them, but we were able to learn just what effective communication meant. Because of the trials and tribulations of my service-learning course, I have a new normal.

A new normal isn’t bad, for you are still you. Just as the representative from Komen told me almost 4 months ago, knowing your normal is about you being self awareness of your bumps and bruises. It’s about knowing that just because your features don’t look like the person standing next to you, doesn’t mean something is wrong. Here’s an ode to learning outcomes never being what you planned, group members who I now adore, press releases due in less than 20 minutes and a new normal that has the potential to take me where I’ve always wanted to go.

Thank you to everyone who followed this blog as the semester went along a special thanks to everyone who commented on posts. I encourage everyone to remain think pink each and everyday. One in eight women will still get breast cancer at some point in their lives. The fight is not over, so I hope you guys continue to work with Susan G. Komen to end breast cancer once and for all.

P E A C E, L O V E,  P I N K.

Ethics and professionalism in PR and service-learning: The choice is yours

From the time you consider yourself free-willed, you are given both the gift and curse choices. The decisions made on an everyday basis define who you really are, and working in public relations is no different.

Here at LSU,  the Manship School of Mass Communication teaches us the importance of good professionalism and ethics. Along with this service-learning writing course, I am also taking an ethical PR course. While a good bit of it delves into ethical philosophical principles , the majority of the time we use current choices made by real PR professionals in the field to help define what is ethical. Many of the questions ask about very drastic decisions: should you hit an innocent child or kill an entire semi full of prisoners? While I don’t think I’ll ever face that choice alone, it’s helped me realize that every choice I make will have a consequence. As PR professionals, however, it is our job to remain professional and ethical while representing and executing our client’s best interests. Professionalism really goes hand in hand with ethicality.Like ethics, professionalism is a choice given to someone who may already have a definition the word in their mind. It may be difficult to accept their professionalism if it isn’t par to your own definition.

Since we realize the choices public relation professionals make are of their own opinion, there is a standard set of rules created by the Public Relations Society of America that the PR adheres to. When ethicality and professionalism come into question, it’s often challenged by the PRSA Code of Ethics. It’s personally one of my favorite tools to use. It not only keeps me in check, but it ensures that my expectations are no higher or lower than any of the industry’s standards.

In wrapping up our work with Susan G. Komen of Baton Rouge this semester, I’ve had the opportunity to really utilize what it means to be both professional and ethical. I believe my teammate Megan mentioned this in her blog, but when we began working with Komen, we came in during a very ethical battle of Planned Parenthood. It was up to us as professionals to set that issue aside and focus on the reason Komen touches lives each and everyday. It was up to us to promote knowing your normal in hopes of saving a life. We had a choice to be biased or a choice to go through this experience learning the most we could.

Now you have a choice. Firstly, I’d urge you to continue the fight to end breast cancer once and for all. It starts with knowledge, though. Visit Susan G. Komen’s website to find out a little more information or to donate to the cause for a cure. Your next choice involves you continuing to follow my journey for a cure. Subscribe to my blog or follow me on twitter.

Choices: Hard to live with em, Can’t live without em.

Regards,

S I E R R A

Coming Full Circle: How service-learning and Komen has ‘shaped’ my view of PR

With only three weeks left in my public relations service-learning class, I have begun to reflect my journey. I’m working with a real nonprofit client, writing more press releases than my brain can handle and have narrowed down exactly what I want to pursue in the PR field. In essence, you can say I’m coming full circle; I didn’t begin that way, though. Image

 

Before I began the course, my knowledge of service-learning and public relations was in the shape of a line because of its narrowness. Though I could tell you the technical definition of PR, I had not truly worked with a client to promote their business. In the past, I’ve interned for clients, but it was a variety of clerical work. By being able to partner with the Susan G. Komen, however, I was able to enrich my learning experience and take away tangible portfolio work. By the first month of taking this course, my line became a square.

“Knowing Your Normal” may have been a phrase used in terms of breast cancer awareness, but I’ve been using it for much more than that. As I began working with Komen, my normal was average to say the least—it was a square. I had an average work ethic, but I always managed to finish things on time. I always believed in taking tasks one step at a time, but MC 4001 isn’t exactly the course that allows you to do that. I had to learn to thoroughly multitask and focus on tying each of my projects into a central theme. For every advisory, pitch letter and brochure I made, I had to make sure to create logos and messages that applied to the theme. This also included creating a central SCVNGR trek and promoting the geolocation app. It was with these continuous assignments that I began to come around full circle.Image

As I still continue to complete the circle while working with the service-learning project, I am beginning to see what I want to truly do with PR. I love working with nonprofit organizations, and I could truly see myself doing so for the rest of my life. I also love making customers happy, so I want to further research hospitality PR and see if it is a field I could work in as well. I think more than anything, I’ve learned how ready I am to get out there and succeed.

If you want to see my circle completed, continue to follow my journey through social media. You can follow me on Twitter or find me on LinkedIn. And if you want more information about breast cancer awareness, please visit Susan G. Komen’s site. Here’s to almost reaching the finish line…

 

Social Media with Susan G. Komen: A Halloween Guide to Making Technology Not So Scary

In the 80s, my older sister was frightened by the likes of a vicious monster named Cujo. I was terrified of Candyman, Jason and a handsome lad named Freddy Krueger. I feel the past two decades have been consumed with a different kind of fear. It is one that doesn’t have a sinister smile or a knack for murdering innocents. This not-so-vicious enemy is also known as social media. I believe the reason why social media is so menacing is because uninformed users feel ignorant when applying it to everyday life. It’s something that must be learned, though because I’m positive this trend in media isn’t just the latest fad. It’s our future.

We live in a society where communication is powered by the most prominent social media. Facebook and Twitter reign supreme because they were some of the first accounts that allowed users to be a part of the story. They started a movement that took the world by storm, and for the first time in what seemed like forever, users could democratize news. As we propel ourselves into the future, we now see online media sites being used in a variety of ways, but all for the same central purpose. Social photo sharing sites, such as Pinterest, Flickr and Instagram, combine images to tell the story. Blogs allow for specialized messages to be passed along to those looking for specialized information. The speed, precision and evolving qualities of social media is what makes it unique in advertising and awareness campaigns.

As we continue to meet with our client, Komen of Baton Rouge, we are still working very hard to promote awareness for a cause. Because October is almost over, they’ve actually requested that we work more intensely with social media to promote Race for the Cure. We are very excited to work with tools we’re quite comfortable with. Komen of Baton Rouge has one person who manages all of their social media, but we hope to introduce them to more technology outlets such as Instagram, Flickr and SCVNGR.

As October is winding down, Cinq Communications and I urge you to spread the word of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Try doing it through social media— I promise it won’t give you a fright! Visit Susan G. Komen’s Facebook page or my personal Twitter to find out more information about how you can get involved. It’s no trick that social media truly is a treat!

PR WRITING, SERVICE-LEARNING, CLIENTELE…OH MY.

“Every person should be treated with the deference and respect you would show your best customer.” –Nancy Brinker, Founder of Susan G. Komen

You can call me Dorothy, for I was lost in the world of AP style and PR writing, but I’ve begun to find my way with the help of my Cinq girls. Megan is my courageous lion because though she hyperventilates when turning in a news release, she isn’t afraid to stand up for any of these third party companies. Clare is the scarecrow because she is smart as a whip. Lea is the classy tin-man, for she puts her heart into every writing piece she develops for us. Little Cyone is the good witch, Glinda. Whenever we feel our most stressed, she is there calming us down with her wisdom and organizational flowcharts. It may also have to do with the fact that Glinda wears all pink. Somewhere over the rainbow I can see our project being near perfect and complete.

Even if we haven’t finished our journey yet, I’m continuing to delve deeper into my SCVNGR service-learning partnership with Susan G. Komen of Baton Rouge. I’m also diving head first into more extensive PR writing.

When I say extensive writing, I absolutely mean it. Over the course of just a few short weeks, Cinq Communications has managed to complete blogs, news releases, press releases, marketing plans, SWOT Analysis, feature releases and much more. Though I never get a perfect score on any of them (for no piece of writing is ever perfect), but I’m doing pretty well with the time and content I’m given. It’s beginning to ensure me that I can do this job. Perhaps I will be ready out of college.

I think my favorite release I’ve written so far was my feature release story. Ironically, it was one of my lowest grades. I think it’s because I cared so much about it, I neglected to pay attention to AP style. For our assignment, we were to take the presidential candidate we most related to and write a feature release about an individual who also supported said candidate. Because Obama is the candidate I’m supporting (dare I say lesser of two evils), I chose to interview my mom for the feature release. I was able to write a compelling story about her being a single parent, and I highlighted very surprising single mother statistics. If every writing assignment could be fun as that one, maybe I won’t go gray every class period!

Despite becoming an elderly woman, the PR writing is preparing Cinq Communications for our service-learning partnership with Komen. We are very fortunate in that our partners are well established. Their audience base is wide, so when creating a trek with SCVNGR, we hope it won’t   be difficult to pull the younger pink generation in. Komen is also filled to the brim with fact sheets, informational brochures and press releases. This is to our advantage, however, because we have a foundation as to how they deliver the information given to their audience. For example, Komen’s fact sheets are filled not just with large numerical statistics, but personal statistics. Instead of using a large number to generalize U.S. women, Komen likes to use more simple information such as the chilling fact below:

We now understand that concept, so when making our brochures and developing our SCVNGR strategy, we are able to give the client what they want. PR writing, service-learning, clientele…oh my? Let’s hope that we don’t get anymore flying monkeys in the form of media advisories and news releases. The Wizard of Oz’s castle isn’t too much farther now. It’s just a matter of following that yellow brick road.

The yellow brick road now has technology in the form of social media. And why stop at just communicating via blog when a twister comes through? Tap your ruby slippers twice and follow my journey with the Komen foundation across the social media lands of FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

There’s no place like home,

Sierra

Susan G. Komen of Baton Rouge SCVNGR Project: The Beginning

Know your normal.

It’s a strange phrase taken out of context, but a powerful one in the world of breast cancer awareness. It is a phrase that I’ve already begun passing along to those closest to me, and one that I hope those reading can pass along as well. Perhaps I’ll start from the beginning.

This semester, my public relations writing course was given a grant to utilize a mobile geolocation app called SCVNGR when working with our partnering clients this year. The best way to describe what SCVNGR does is to think of it in terms of an interactive scavenger hunt. Players complete treks across various locations and are able to earn incentives along the way while sharing their location via social media. Because the LSU Manship School is quite amazing at what it does, we are able to incorporate SCVNGR into some pretty amazing organizations this semester.

My client this semester is the Susan G. Komen of Baton Rouge! I’ve always had a special place in my heart for this nonprofit organization, and after meeting up with the staff last week, I’m even more in love with the cause. This is where we make a full circle back to ‘know your normal.’ When speaking with one of the women on staff, we asked what sort of message does Komen spread to the younger generation. Without missing a beat, she says, “know your normal.” She went on to explain:

Know your normal is a phrase we use because every person, every body, and every breast is different. Your normal may be different from someone else’s normal, but it’s yours. Now when you begin to feel something that is outside of your comfort zone, outside of your normal, that’s when you can catch it early. That can be the difference between breast cancer and a cure. You have to know your normal first.

 

Impressed beyond words? So was I. You can see now why I’m very eager to continue to work with Komen this semester. There’s so many opportunities coming up in the month of October, and though it’s soon, it’s worth it. Something tells me this will be a project I won’t soon forget. And why stop at just communicating via blog? You can also follow my journey with the Komen foundation across the social media lands of Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn

I suppose I’ll leave on a short note, because I definitely intend to keep you guys up to date frequently. I just want to encourage everyone to spread the message of pink. One in eight women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. This is why foundations like Komen strive to end breast cancer forever. It begins with keeping yourself aware and keeping yourself healthy. Remember, know your normal!

Regards for now,

Sierra