What’s in your Google Reader?

21 04 2009

I am always curious about what Public Relations students and professionals are reading in their Google Reader.

  • What type of blogs are in your Google reader?
  • What are your favorite, must read blogs?

When I was a technology intern last summer I primarily read Technology blogs to keep current with the industry: Gizmodo, Engadget, ZDNET, Silicon Valley Watcher, etc). But while I am at school, I tend to read blogs by PR and marketing professionals, social media bloggers, and HR professionals. I many ways, I learn more from my cyber friends and teachers than from my University’s professors.

Some of my favorite blogs right now are

What are your favorite blogs?





PR… Journalism… Why can’t we all get along?

11 03 2009

maddow1As many of you PR fanatics may know by now, Rachel Maddow, the host MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show, aired a segment on Thursday, March 5 that shall I say put Burson-Marsteller in a less than favorable light. Maddow explained who Burson is by naming a number of seemingly questionably current and past Burson clients. I fail to see why Burson’s involvement in AIG’s PR campaign is “evil” when it will help to build consumer confidence, repair a company that she says the US owns 80% of, and essentially save thousands of jobs and billions of dollars. Also, her list of campaigns and clients failed to include the Tylenol tampering case (one of the most successful PR campaigns in modern history) or the anthrax crisis communications. Mark Penn, CEO of Burson, replied to Maddow in an internal memo that was leaked to PR Week, which Maddow then responded to last night in yet another segment

But this is not a post promoting Burson-Marsteller, Mark Penn, or any of Burson’s clients. 

This post is about the continuing battle between journalism and public relations. It’s no secret that PR practitioners and journalists are occasionally confrontational with each other, but I am appalled at how Maddow blatantly mocked the entire public relations profession — twice. So I ask, “why can’t we all get along?” Let’s work with each other and not against to help make all of our lives more pleasing. Rachel, if you don’t understand the importance of PR, then please don’t put it down on national television as something that just helps “shine up” a company’s image to “spin us”. Haven’t we come far enough to move past the term “spin”. And if we haven’t, then I at least think that journalists should be able to determine when to appropriately use the horrible term “spin”.

The “tiff” between journalists and pr is kind of like the chicken and the egg. Did it start in higher education or in the “real world”. Well wherever it started, I can say from personal experience that it is definitely prevalent in colleges (or at least the two that I have attended). PR is constantly shoved to the side and disregarded as less important than the other journalism fields. Let’s work on respecting one another where it all starts — in universities — and maybe then we won’t have as many problems in the “real world”. 

So again I plead for us to get along… or at least to act with dignity and respect on national television.





Bringing PR Education into the 21st Century

26 02 2009

On Sunday night I participated in a conversation that was started and moderated by College Journ, a live-chat that takes place every Sunday evening from 5-8 pm PST. It started on Twitter as #collegejourn, but moved to collegejourn.com because of the extremely high traffic flow. The moderating helps to make the conversation more enjoyable (#journchat should consider switching over because it is experiencing that same problem) In the conversation this past Sunday, the moderators encouraged students, educators, and professionals to join together to discuss the changing Journalism industry and how universities can catch up with the rapidly changing technologies. You can view a wrap-up of the conversation on their website

A few people (mostly educators) suggested that social media tools should be self-taught and the classroom should be saved for theory and “traditional media” skills that will always be needed. While I do agree that learning skills such as reporting, editing, writing, etc are essential to a journalism student’s education, I also think that it is important for students to know how to use the tools in which their stories (campaigns for us PR folks) will be placed. My favorite suggestion to solve this issue was:

  • Teach all of those essential journalistic skills while learning for example what tags would be most appropriate or what multimedia elements would work well.  

I am pretty sure that I was one of the few (if not only) public relations student who participated in the chat, but I think that the conversation was completely relevant for a public relations student. Understanding the evolving “news room” (which in many cases today look completely different than that of Clark Kent’s newspaper, The Daily Planet) is extremely important for journalist and Public Relations students and professionals. PR students/professionals cannot use dated techniques because they do not work for the 21st Century journalist, blogger, or whoever you are attempting to communicate with.

 A recurring topic during the conversation was the need to incorporate the use of multimedia and social media into the journalism curriculum; I cannot agree more. 

There are a few very important elements that my university’s PR curriculum are lacking. A few of the points were discussed in the Journchat conversation, and a few of the points are ones that I have been thinking of for a while now. Here are 6 elements that I think would improve our PR curriculum to bring it into the 21st Century:

  1. Online PR Campaigns/Current use of PR tools (check out The Digital Bus, it is a class that is doing all the right things for PR students)
  2. Closer connection with Broadcast/Print concentrations
  3. Better screening of clients for our firm so that we get REAL PR experience
  4. More structured PR firm
  5. A PR current events class if not just the incorporation of discussing PR current events (in turn, it will keep us up-to-date with the tools that PR campaigns are using)
  6. Pitching — who? what? where? when? why? how? (It amazes me that this is only briefly, and I mean briefly, discussed in PR classes at my university. Unless you have an internship before you get into the campaigns class, you are going to be very confused and have NO idea what to do. This takes our university motto “learn by doing” to an inappropriate extreme. But I’ll save that for another post)

What would you do to improve your PR education?





Journalism Professors: Catch up or we’re all left behind!

21 02 2009

“Bring a Professor” #CollegeJourn Chat

*Note: this blog post was orignially posted on CICM 

This week’s #collegejourn chat is yet another example of how great minds can come together with great ideas (if you’re unfamiliar with #collegejourn chat, read more info here). After an extra hour of chatting, a small group of dedicated #collegejourn chatters have devised a plan to get college educators on board with the 21st century:

What: “Bring a professor” Chat

Who: Educators, professionals, journalists, students

When: Sunday, Feb. 22 (8-11 p.m. EST, 5-8 p.m. PST)

Where: www.collegejourn.com

Why: To discuss ways to modernize college journalism education

A common theme that arises from each #collegejourn chat is a general dissatisfaction with college professors’ unwillingness to think forward. Put simply: j-professors are stuck in their ways. And we want to change that.

Next Sunday, Feb. 22 from 8-11 p.m. EST (5 -8 p.m. PST) we’re inviting journalism professors to join a discussion with students worldwide. The topic: how to prepare your students for the real world. We’re not just suggesting, but demanding an education that prepares us for the real world of 21st-century journalism.

We’re also working to bring this topic to a panel at the Associated Collegiate Press convention on Feb. 27 that will be updated live on the web. Check back soon for details.

How you can help us

We can’t do this alone. We need your help to promote the chat and come up with topic ideas. By tomorrow — yes, tomorrow, Feb. 16 — at midnight PST, please write a blog post about:

  • How good journalism can be made better with new media tools
  • How your j-school program could be improved
  • What is going right at your school, or at other schools
  • The one thing you could change about j-school
  • What prevents professors from embracing the web
  • Why learning the business side of the journalism industry will help us all

Contact Suzanne Yada (the chat moderator) with a link to your blog post: suzanneyada at gmail dot com or twitter.com/suzanneyada or post a link to your blog in the comments. We will aggregate the posts to send to participants.

Spread the word

We want everyone to be get something out of our discussion. The more, the merrier. Here are a few ways you can promote the cause:

  • E-mail your professors
  • Retweet the information
  •  Post our flyers (or make your own) in your journalism department (if your professors are unresponsive to e-mails)
  • Approach your professors/faculty face-to-face
  • Tell your journalism friends




What is good writing?

18 02 2009

I constantly question whether or not I am a good writer. Feedback about my writing varies from “great!” to “needs work”. I know that I tend to ramble from time to time and that writing concisely has always been a problem of mine. It is an problem that I have been working to correct for a while now. I have chosen elective classes this year for very specific reasons: an English Composition class to improve my grammar, a Corporate Communications class to improve my writing within an organization (I was asked to improve my internal communications in my last job), and  two political science classes (the American Presidency and Congress) that require concise and straight-forward writing. But in my efforts to improve my writing, I have discovered that I am more confused than ever. Why am I receiving such dichotomous reviews from professors?  

“Well once college is over I am not going to need to worry about this anyway,” I said to a friend. “Right,” she said.

Aftertward, I headed over to the library to do work, which inevitably led to aimless thoughts during my sporadic breaks on twitter and youtube. I decided then that I was wrong before when I said that the differing reviews didn’t matter. As a public relations professional, I will need to be able to write for a variety of audiences. I can’t say then that my unfavorable writing one time doesn’t matter, because it will always matter. My grade will not be a factor; I will be responsible for my client’s image.

On this thought, I read through my favorite “copyblogger” articles, one of which is titled “Ernest Hemingway’s Top 5 Tips for Writing Well” by Brian Clark, published on 10/30/06. Here are Hemmingway’s 5 tips:

  1. Use short sentences
  2. Use short first paragraphs
  3. Use vigorous english
  4. Be positive, not negative
  5. There is no 5, but Clark found a great quote to fill the space — “I write one page of masterpiece to ninety one pages of shit,” Hemingway confided to F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1934. “I try to put the shit in the wastebasket.”

If you are ever feeling as discourged as I felt today, take a look at the blog “Copyblogger“. And if you are not feeling discouraged, take a look at it anyway. Copyblogger is a great writing reference for journalism/pr students.





Think mulitmedia and Social Media

15 02 2009

If you are new to being fully engaged in social media (like me) then I would recommend that you read a new free ebook, Brink, by the Principal of SHIFT Communications and the author of the blog PR Squared, Todd Defren. Defren explains the importance of using of Social Media in Public Relations campaigns in order to engage with customers. Starting on the first page, Defren clearly defines the difference between old and new PR, which are separated by their use of social media. Old PR: “Only unhappy customers are particularly vocal.” New PR: “But in an online world, a company can been seen and noticed as being responsive, even by non-customers.”

I particularly enjoyed the case study about the “Neat Company”, which makes a portable scanner. The initial target audience was businesspeople who are always on the go and looking for the next best convenience. However, because of SHIFT’s close relationship with a techie blogger who moved to Martha Stuart Omnimedia in the middle of their pitch, the Neat Company was featured in Martha Stuart. While reading this case study I was probably just as surprised as the rest of the SHIFT employees to hear that Martha Stuart was interested in the portable scanner. This case study is the the perfect example of the importance of relationship building in public relations through social media. Communication with a blogger resulted in a feature in Martha Stuart, #1  on Amazon, and a whole new audience for the scanner that SHIFT probably would have never known about, “mommybloggers”.

Another very important part of using social media as a tool in public relations campaigns is to always be engaged in the conversation. I love his letter to a CEO who is interested in blogging because I also think that aspects of it work as a letter to any person who is interested in blogging for the first time. If you are interested in blogging, Defren suggests that you begin by not blogging. “Instead, spend that time following OTHER blogs in your industry. Read them. Comment judiciously. Leave your “agenda” on the coat-rack. Just get to know a few folks. Introduce yourself.”

As students, it’s probably okay to jump into it and learn as we go. But, the important thing is that you learn as you go. I have only had my blog for a little over a month now, and as you may have noticed, I have started slowly by only writing a handful of entries in that time. The reason for my slow start is because I am a sponge right now, taking in information and the blogging culture from the 27 blogs that I read on a daily basis, the books and ebooks that I am reading, and the twitter conversations with which I am engaged.

This is difficult for me to say since I have worked very hard during my college career in the past three-and-a-half years, but I have learned more about public relations through social media in the past 42 days than I have learned in my entire college career. At Cal Poly I only have two public relations teachers, but on the Internet I have an infinite number of teachers that range from Public Relations professionals to CEO’s and from students to college professors. I urge you to take advantage of all the resources that are available to you. As Defren says many times in Brink ENGAGE in the conversation. It will benefit you now as you are a student and it will benefit you later when you become a public relations professional.





President Obama’s Social Media Campaign Research Paper

11 02 2009

I am going to write an anylitical paper for my english class about President Obama’s use of social media tools in his presidential campaign. Here is the proposal for my paper that I gave to my professor:

“President Obama was able to successfully reach out to millions of Internet savvy users and join our blogosphere discussions. He understood the blogger language and culture and tactfully emerged his campaign into our society. Few politicians have attempted to use social media to benefit their campaigns, and those who have used it have been unsuccessful. Why has social media not worked for politicians in the past? The answer is obvious to us bloggers and social media fanatics who spend countless hours-a-day in the blogosphere, they didn’t reach out to us on our level. Politicians joined our society expecting that we would stop our conversations and join theirs – when we bloggers all know it should be the other way around. The problem is however, that politicians do not understand that the social media norms are completely different than industrial media norms. Obama understood the difference; he engaged himself in our conversations; he treated us as equals.

President Obama’s social media campaign was very detailed and involved many layers: text messages, emails, blogs, twitter, youtube (viral videos), and an online support community (my.brackobama.com), just to name a few. I would like to research and analyze each of the social media tools that Obama’s campaign used. Although I know a lot about this topic because I was emerged in his social media campaign, I have not yet taken the time to step back and view the campaign after the election.

As a Journalism major concentrating in Public Relations and an avid social networker, this topic is very relevant and interesting to me. Upon my graduation in June, I plan to begin a career in Technology or Digital Public Relations at a Public Relations Agency. My hope and expectation for this report is to gain a better understanding of how social media is used in political campaigns and relate that understanding to technology companies. The essence of a political campaign is no different than a public relations plan for a company. Both have a common goal, which is to build a relationship with their constituents or consumers. “

Now, can you help me out a little bit with my research? I have a few sources so far, but can you please leave a comment or send an email to me if you know of any good case studies or articles that I could use to assist my researc? Thank you so much!

Here is a good case study that I found by Paul van Veenendaal, SMM Wizard & Author of viralblog.com