Monday, April 30, 2007

The Week's Best, 30 April 2007

Here at UGA we're enjoying the last day of this semester's classes. The rest of the world goes on as normal, bringing us more great reading about PR. Give these posts a look:

What do we need to know about the media, David Phillips
Web-time story, Dan Santow
Are you cut out to run a successful blog?, Ed Lee
If the shoe fits -- social media in seven boxes, Kami Huyse
Questions for the interviewer, Meghan
The obsolete interview, Jeff Jarvis

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Sunday, April 29, 2007

Publicity for student PR blogs

Wow, two posts on a Sunday. It must be something big. :-)

Okay, not that big, but my students will be delighted to find out they're featured on the Grady homepage for their blogging project. Should be there for a few days and then they'll move to the student showcase.

Although most are graduating in a couple of weeks, I hope at least some of them will choose to continue blogging. I've enjoyed watching them try something new.

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Two students worth knowing about

On Friday my daughter and I made our annual visit to UGA's Relay for Life, an overnight fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. Two of my colleagues on the PR faculty have recently battled cancer, and my dad is currently recovering from prostate surgery, so I have personal reasons for supporting their efforts.

But this year I also had the delightful opportunity of seeing two wonderful students in action (not to mention meeting their parents, friends, and assorted relations): Kaitlyn Bagnato, executive director, and Lauren Fortner, director of public relations. I left when the two-year-old started saying, "I wanna go home," (the Hairy Dawg mascot was a bit too much) but it was hard to go -- Kaitlyn was on stage addressing the hundreds of participants, and Lauren was in a huddle with a group of photographers, no doubt making the most of her opportunity for media relations.

The event raised more than $257,000, surpassing last year's total, and these young women were two of the reasons that happened. As I did with Leigh earlier this year, I'm happy to provide excellent recommendations to anyone out there considering hiring them -- but hurry, because I've no doubt that someone will snap them up quick!

Lauren has blogged about her experiences for the last few days, but Kaitlyn -- who's also on that award-winning Bateman team -- is undoubtedly still sleeping.

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Campaigns presentation #2

Yesterday the Athens Symphony team made their presentation to the client. This team did not always click, but they pulled it together in the end, and the client was definitely pleased with their work. The conductor, assistant conductor, and a board member all e-mailed me today to thank the students for their work.

Read what John, Kelly, and another student have to say about their experiences.

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Grady Blog Dawgs

Grady College's Web site has a new link to a list of our faculty blogs including this one. Check it out!

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Student blogging update

With only a few days remaining in the semester, I've been looking over my students' blogs to see how they've done. One thing I noticed was the range of ways they chose to address the assignment. Nicole, for example, has written strictly about the class project, while Mezelle has focused on her work with a Fair Trade organization, Crystal writes mostly about sports, and Suzy writes about anything that strikes her as interesting, because, as she says, "it's all about PR."

Quite a few have gotten comments from other students and practitioners, and many have made the effort to link to and comment on others' blogs. Most are approaching that 15-post minimum, although I do expect an avalanche in the next week or two. If you want to keep up, Constantin Basturea has kindly set up an aggregator for all of their blogs. Enjoy!

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Campaigns presentation #1

PR Campaigns is a tough class to teach. All semester the students work on preparing a plan for their clients, but the April deadline seems awfully far away when they start working in January. It seems like I spend most of my time with the teams telling them how much more work they have to do, and how they better get on it or they won't get done in time. Then April arrives and they go bonkers, spending hours and days and even all-nighters in the PR Lab to get ready for the client presentation.

Yesterday the Home Depot Foundation team presented, and they did a great job. The client called their work "very professional" and went to work right away on one of their suggestions, setting up an internship program through the Grady College. It's a lot of hard work, but at least in this class there's a payoff at the end.

Here are some of the students' thoughts: Nikki, J.L.C., Elyse, Whitney, and the one that still has me laughing, Nicole.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

The Week's Best, 23 April 2007

Social Media Press Release: Where's the Feedback?, Michael Sommermeyer
Growth Path of a PR Professional, IndiaPRBlog!
Dead for the Ted, The Pole Position
Do Journos Really Want Honesty from Flacks?, Scott Baradell
Anti-Corporate Groups Target Innocent Marketing Promotions for ScrewedTube Attacks, Steven Silvers

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More thoughts on Virginia Tech

About a month ago I paid a brief visit to the campus of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. Their graduate school has developed some wonderfully innovative programs, so our graduate school sent a few of us, members of the Task Force on Graduate Education, to check the place out. Graduate dean Karen DePauw and her staff were energetic, enthusiastic, and generous with their time. They also arranged for us to have a long lunch with a dozen or so graduate students, who told us about their experiences with graduate education. They were engaging and bright and excited about learning. I have no reason to think the grad students who died on April 16 were any different, although I'd rather not think about that -- nor the fact that many of my own graduate students are much the same.

So, I was thinking that it all hits rather close to home. But that was before I read my student Elyse's recent post, in which she describes finding out that one of those omnipresent pictures we've all been seeing was actually of someone she knows.

How impossible it is to comprehend.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Faculty time management advice and tips

This may be a slight exaggeration, but I feel as if I haven't been caught up at work (or at home for that matter) since September, 2004 (not coincidentally the month my daughter was born). In desperation, I recently scoured the Internet for advice and found a few items that may be helpful to other PR faculty.

First, an article on "Time Management for New Faculty," which was written by two computer scientists but includes more generally applicable advice. Next, a list of tips for saving time in teaching, scholarship, and service -- including some useful tips on grading. Finally, an outline that especially emphasizes planning.

I could summarize all the advice, but that would take time!

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

UGA student reaction to Virginia Tech slayings

Several of my students have blogged about their reactions to the massacre at Virginia Tech. They are unanimous in their sorrow, but the day's events stirred a range of thoughts and feelings.

Kelly disagrees with those who blame the school's notification system, while Lauren uses the events to put her own life into perspective. Another student takes issue with reaction to a cartoon published in our student paper, and another Lauren, who's from Virginia, says that at a time like this we're all Hokies.

Also of interest, Bill Sledzik writes about responses at his university and points to social media sources on the tragedy here.

Update: As the week goes along, my students continue to post their thoughts. See Allie's comments on "Too Little, Too Late" (part 1 and part 2), Kristina, who's really mad at the news media, and Nikki, who's remembering Columbine.


Monday, April 16, 2007

When students are happy...

...I'm happy, too. Since my depressing post about unhappy students, things have turned around.

First off this morning, I got great news from PRSSA: the judges selected the team I'm advising as one of the top three finalists of 64 competitors, so we'll all be going to New Jersey (via Manhattan, thank you very much) to present to the client next month. I called the account exec early this morning and let her make the other calls, and unless I'm mistaken they're out celebrating at the moment. Here's hoping they'll call a cab.

Then I saw this post from another Campaigns student who wanted me to know how happy she is with her team and project. Elyse, for that you get a link. :-)

I also found out that one of my unhappy students is doing better now. The other has decided to withdraw from graduate school. On a day like today, you just have to hope you've done your best for your students when you had the chance.

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The Week's Best, 16 April 2007

Coordinates of a genocide, Shel Holtz
Right tool, right job--social media, Chris Brogan (on Lifehack)
Would a social media CV (resume) or biography be useful?, Heather Yaxley
Am I monitoring the media? Or is the media monitoring me, Joscelyn (on PR Girlz)
Advice for a small nonprofit presenting to a big potential underwriter, Steven Silvers
PR Conversations
The PR blogosphere continues to grow, Constantin Basturea and The PR blogosphere continues its expansion, only slower, Kami Huyse

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Viral video case study

I caught CNBC's The Business of Innovation yesterday, a rebroadcast of an episode called "Revolution and Evolution." The entire program can be viewed here, but I particularly recommend Part 3, which has a section on P&G's "Men with Cramps" viral video campaign.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

When students are unhappy

I consider myself a generally happy person. Maybe that's why I can't stand it when my students aren't. A post like this prompts an immediate invitation to visit my office, and an e-mail from another grad student, clearly having emotional problems, elicits a recommendation to consult the university's mental health clinic, contact information included (I know my limitations; counseling is one of them).

I often hear PR professionals say they'd like to retire and teach one day. I imagine them picturing themselves strolling across a leafy green campus while students read thick treatises on Shakespeare while sprawled on the lawn and debate the French revolution in the nearby coffeehouse. Sometimes that happens. But there's a lot more to it than that.


Monday, April 09, 2007

The Week's Best, 9 April 2007

Wow! Is everyone else as busy as I am today? Luckily, PR bloggers are still coming through with great stuff. This week, I recommend checking these out:

Target Green Conference Looks at Ways to Be Greener and Look Greener, Eric Eggertson
Knowledge is Key, Kristina Summers
The New Mantra: Lead, Tell, Show, Richard Edelman
PR Jobs Galore, Peter Himler
Some Practices Never End, Cyrus
Changing PR's Game-- Just Do It, Dan Greenfield
Q100 Fights Crowds at Free Ticket-Day at Six Flags, Nikki Kay

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Friday, April 06, 2007

Reflections on one year of blogging

On April 8, my blog will celebrate its first anniversary (I'll be visiting family to celebrate Easter). Boy, have I learned a lot.

My first post explained my reasons for starting a blog: to improve my teaching, and to give nonacademics an insiders view of PR education. I think it's served both of those purposes, but it's also gone beyond that. I never expected to get ideas for class projects and guest lecturers, but generous and thoughtful people--Kami, Josh--provided them. I also never expected to get feedback from my students--much less from students at other schools--but that has happened. I've connected with other PR professors, notably Richard and Bill, and I've reconnected with former students who've stumbled across me on the Web.

My goal for this next year is to work harder to bring bloggers and scholars together--something Constantin has been pushing for years. I've written a teaching paper, currently in review, that describes ways PR faculty can use blogs in the classroom. I am also in the early phases of planning a conference to be held here in Athens next October, and I hope some of the people I've just named will be in attendance.

When I first started my blog, I resisted any effort to keep stats or otherwise track my blog's "success." The whole process seemed ego-driven, and somehow it seemed more authentic to me to measure success in terms of comments and links ("conversation") than page views or unique visitors. Finally, about a month ago, I signed up for Feedburner and Technorati, because I realized I really couldn't talk to my students about blogging without having working knowledge of them myself.

What an eye-opener. First of all, I found out a lot more people look at my blog every day than I ever suspected. (I must confess I still don't know how many people subscribe to my feed because I haven't consolidated it at Feedburner, but I will... sometime before my second anniversary.) Not enough to feed my ego, but enough to encourage me to keep going! Technorati also showed me a bunch of people linking to my blog, including internationally, that I was completely unaware of; this gives me a way to find other bloggers interested in the same things I'm writing about (did someone just say "Duh!"?? Well, it was new to me.) In addition, I realized I can tailor the content to the readers, not in an icky "I want to be popular," way, but in a "furthering the mission of PR education" way. I also discovered the most popular outbound link for the last month is one I just added a few weeks ago, to my faculty Web page, which is hopelessly outdated, as is the CV to which it is linked. You can bet I'll be working on them soon.

So, blogging is a huge time suck that just leads to more and more work. Ya gotta love it.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

PR client pitch and presentation tips

I recently started tracking stats on this blog (more on that later this week), and discovered to my surprise that one of the more common search terms that sends people here is "client pitch." I did a quick post on it last year at this time that wasn't exactly heavy on information, so I have a feeling the people who arrive are disappointed in what they find.

So, to remedy the situation, here are notes from this year's guest speaker, plus a link to a lecture that's geared toward my students but may prove useful to other students (and maybe even professionals).

Brian Brodrick, a former student of mine who now heads the Athens office of Jackson Spalding, discussed various forms of client presentations, focusing mostly on new business pitches. He advocates RSS (no, not Really Simple Syndication): Relevant, Strategic, and Simple. He also emphasized the importance of including an element of surprise-- recommending an unusual tactic, singing a song, playing a video-- something to make the presentation stand out from others.

Brian particularly stressed the need for preparation, knowing how many people will be there and who they are, doing your homework, rehearsing the presentation even if it means reminding your boss that practice time is needed. He also said that anyone who attends the presentation should plan to speak--I think this is a direct quote: "The only thing more annoying than a young, silent person is an old, silent person." He suggested leaving some ideas in your pocket-- withholding a few interesting strategies or tactics until the Q&A so you still have something great to discuss. One of Brian's most important points, "expect the unexpected," proved unexpectedly relevant as the classroom's CD drive didn't work and he had to wing part of his presentation without the video clips he'd brought.

Finally, he talked about the personal side. "It's not about you, it's about THEM," he said, reminding the students to focus on the client rather than an individual or agency. "If they invited you to present it's pretty obvious they know you're capable." He also talked about reading the room--recognizing the decision-maker, being sure to shake hands with everyone in the room, and not being afraid to make changes midstream if it's clear you're not connecting.

Great advice, and I hope it helps whoever you "client pitch" keyword searchers are!

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Monday, April 02, 2007

The Week's Best, 2 April 2007

It's sad to pull up your blog and realize you haven't posted in a week. And no original content at that. Well, here's to a better week with some inspiration from the PR blogosphere:

What is Hiding Behind the Public Relations Curtain?, Heather Yaxley
Maybe Big Business is Starting to Get Symmetrical PR, Bill Sledzik
Tod Maffin and the Sting of the Webswarm, Joseph Thornley
Great Advice for Emerging PR Practitioners, Lauren
Medium is King? Medium Dictates Message Delivery, Mike Driehorst

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"More important than the curriculum is the question of the methods of teaching and the spirit in which the teaching is given" --Bertrand Russell

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