Category Archives: Southeastern University Coursework

Southeastern University Coursework

The “Southeastern University Coursework” category contains assignments completed  toward my degree during my time at Southeastern University.

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Guest Blogger:: Liz Colburn of Randomly Ravishing

Today I have the pleasure of featuring a post from one of my closest gal pals and favorite PR student bloggers, Liz Colburn of Randomly Ravishing. Liz’s voice is truly evident in her writing, and she brings a wittier, more humorous element to all of her posts. Her post “PR & Commercials” (featured below) is just one example of her unique writing style that is sure to take her to great places in the future.

“I love commercials.  I know, it’s weird.  Most people pay for DVR’s so they can by-pass commercials, however, i just sit and critique every one of them.  I love them so much that I can recognize just about any commercial someone refers to – it’s pretty bad.

When I watch these commercials I notice things – little things – however, in the minds of the people who made them, they are not little.  They are actually a bunch of strategic methods by PR professionals to get a certain type of people interested in whatever is being advertised.

For instance – Let’s examine the new Tide commercials.  A while ago, there was a Tide commercial that featured a young, white married couple folding a large sum of laundry which we find out is due to their triplets.  Not a big deal, right?  False.  For a while, Tide has had the reputation of “a rich person’s laundry soap” generally because it is one of the more expensive brands of detergent.  A rich person’s soap with a white couple advertising it – see where I’m going with this?  In our society, rich is associated with white (You would think we would have progressed from that viewpoint by now).

So guess what I just saw on TV this past weekend?  A brand new Tide commercial – featuring a hispanic couple who sort of insinuates  (and might I add, with very thick and noticeable accents – ironic?).  And what is funny, is that both of these new commercials were alternated between each commercial break of the particular show I was watching.  So do you think Tide is trying to reach a new crowd now?

As a PR representative you need to know about culture, ethnicity and race if you want to sell your product to everyone.  You need to include all race’s and all ethnicities in order to receive good feedback, and ultimately, good sales.

If it were me and I was the PR rep for a large organization determining how to best broadcast a commercial in order to gain the highest profit, I would research to find out what the most watched nightly television shows are, and find out which type of people watch it most.  I would research things such as, does the X-Factor have multiple hispanic contestants?  If so, there is a good chance that will attract a large hispanic fan base – so my commercial would feature a hispanic and I would make sure it is shown every week during the time of the X-Factor.

If you want to sell or advertise something, you need to know when and to whom to do it.”

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News Releases:: What They Are and How to Write Them

While some elements of communication, like print newspapers, are dying, the news release is still living on. It plays an integral role in the PR field, and successful media relations, PR strategies and media kits. The news release is an important tool that PR students should master before entering the field, especially since future employers will expect them to have it down pat.

So, what exactly is a news release?

Press Release from Hyundai

Also known as a press release, a news release, according to THINK Public Relations, “is the most commonly used public relations tactic. The primary purpose of this simple document is the dissemination of information from public relations sources to mass media such as newspapers, broadcast stations, and magazines.”

According to Bill Stoller of Publicity Insider, “a press release is [a] pseudo-news story, written in third person, that seeks to demonstrate to an editor or reporter the newsworthiness of a particular person, event, service or product.”

THINK Public Relations lists the following as standard components of a news release:

  • Contact info of the sender
  • Boldface headline
  • Dateline
  • Lead paragraph
  • 12-point Times New Roman font
  • Paragraphs that are not split between pages
  • Slug & page numbers
  • Use of AP Style
  • Conciseness
  • Correct facts, grammar & spelling
  • Summary of company at the end of the release
  • Localized angle & details

Here are a few articles from one of my favorite PR information sources, PR Daily, on what to do and what not to do when writing a news release:

For those of you who have had experience writing a news release, what advice would you give to PR newbies on how to be successful?

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Lesson Learned

As my last public relations course of my undergraduate career comes to a close, I want to share with you 10 things I have learned about PR this semester. PR is a fast-paced field, and I do not think students and professionals can ever know enough about it, but here is just a glimpse of the knowledge I gained this semester:

  • It is important to study up on local, state and federal laws. PR practitioners must know how to protect themselves, as well as their clients.
  • Research is an essential part of any PR strategy, especially when it comes to knowing one’s audience.
  • PR professionals must listen: to their clients, to media outlets, and to what customers and others are saying on social media.
  • PR is a diverse field, and students should use college as a time to determine whether they want to work in a firm or departmental setting post-graduation.
  • Social media management is a requirement most PR practitioners must be able to fulfill within the workplace because of the integral role it plays within the field.
  • Not only do PR professionals need to conduct research, but they also must have a system for measuring their success.
  • Matching an audience with the appropriate media medium is key to communicating any message.
  • Despite the common misconception that PR practitioners should hold press conferences with the media often, THINK Public Relations recommends that they should not.
  • Many PR professionals are fighting for the field to implement a licensing requirement.
  • Experience is crucial. PR students should take advantage of professional organizations, training programs and internships.

If you are a PR student, what have you learned this semester? If you are a PR professional, what are some of the key lessons you have learned throughout your career that you think PR students need to know?

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PR + the Law

I chose to major in public relations for a reason. I’m horrible at math, some science doesn’t make sense to me and law just doesn’t always click. But as I’ve taken more courses in public relations as I’m moving toward graduation day, I’ve learned that law has a special place in public relations and it’s too important to brush aside.

Even the public relations professionals who spend their days planning events or monitoring social media channels must stay up-to-date on the legal world to protect their clients and the content they create for them.

There are three aspects of the law in particular that I think are especially important for public relations practitioners to learn about and keep in mind as they create press kits, gain media coverage and more:

Image Credit: “89/365: Judgment” by SarahMcGowen

1. Defamation- includes libel (false published statements) and slander (false oral statements). These false statements are considered defamation when they cause public dislike, ridicule or damage to a reputation.

2. Copyright Infringement-copying protected work, even from a website or blog, without authorization to do so.

3. Invasion of Privacy- includes false light, commercial misappropriation, intrusion upon seclusion and publication of private facts.

If public relations professionals don’t keep these areas of law in mind, they may quickly and easily find themselves in a sticky situation. If they want to protect their clients and employer (and possibly themselves and their business if they are self-employed), it’s their responsibility to be knowledgeable and mindful of the above areas of law and more.

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Embracing the Melting Pot

It’s no secret that America is known as a melting pot, composed of people of various religions, ethnicities and cultural backgrounds. The culture of the United States has drastically changed as its demographics have varied throughout the decades.

Despite the cultural richness the melting pot has caused America to experience, it poses several challenges for public relations practitioners.

One of the first steps in creating a public relations strategy is to identify the target audience. More and more segmented audiences have developed, so it has become harder for public relations professionals to distinguish and include the right groups in their list of target audiences. Since it’s harder for public relations practitioners to identify those audiences, it’s even harder for them to determine how best to communicate their message to them. They must conduct research regarding what types of media their audiences use and how they’re using it.

Image Credit: “Boiling potatoes, steaming pot” by Jo Christian Oterhals

Once public relations professionals pinpoint their audiences and learn more about them, they may also face the challenge of recrafting their message in a way that makes sense to them based on their values, backgrounds, etc.

The best solution to both challenges is research: researching the country’s demographics, researching media usage, researching cultural backgrounds and values, and the list goes on and on.

There’s no doubt that public relations practitioners will continue to face these problems in the future as the demographics of the United States continually evolve. But on the bright side, there’s never a dull moment in public relations.

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PR + Factors in Persuasion

An important piece of public relations practitioners’ jobs is to persuade (ethically) their clients’ audience(s) to buy a product, endorse a brand, buy a service or think a certain way. Some professionals may resort to spin tactics, but there are several ethical, effective means and factors to persuasive communication, like:

  • audience analysis- this is one of the most important factors of public relations in general, especially any campaign practitioners complete. It is vital that professionals know who they are targeting or else all of their other efforts will not be efficient. Once practitioners know the age, gender, ethnicity, etc. of who they are talking to, they are better able to craft messages, which will hopefully catch the audience’s attention, around those characteristics.
  • suggestions for action- if public relations professionals want to compel their public(s) to purchase an item or have a specific mindset, they must not only know they are talking to, but provide them with action steps they can take to achieve the desired result. The easier practitioners make it for their audience(s) to accomplish something, the more likely they are to follow through. Once they see how easy it is to buy a product or support a cause, there is a chance they will share with those in their sphere of influence, who may or may not have been considered part of the original target audience. Suggestions for action can also show publics that practitioners care about more than self-promotion.
  • timing and context- public relations professionals’ messages and the means through which they communicate them must match. Some messages are not meant for specific  avenues of communication or seasons. For example, information about a Target Christmas sale would not best be received in May via email. Rather a television commercial in December would be more likely to hit home with the target (no pun intended) audience. Practitioners can completely miss the mark if they are not knowledgeable about the best time at which and means through which to communicate their clients’ messages. Even the best of messages can fail to make an impression and prompt action if their timing and context are inappropriate.

Which means of persuasive communication do you think are the most effective? Why?

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