Insight into the world of CCPR

As I finish my second semester in the Corporate Communications and Public Relations program and look back on what I thought at the beginning , I can see major changes in myself and what I had expected.

After graduating from Brock University I was extremely nervous to enter a post-grad program, especially in Toronto. A few weeks into the program, I knew I had made the right decision to pursue a career in public relations. I was intimidated by some of the qualifications that individuals in our class brought to the table, but throughout the semester I was surprised at how much knowledge I gained in so little time. I entered the program wanting to go into government relations because of my background in Canadian studies, but I came to realize that this was not what I was passionate about. 

After having to interview a communicator and attending the Safehaven Gala for volunteering experience, I was given the opportunity to see inside the world of non-profit.  For my interviewing a communicator assignment, I chose to interview someone that was in a field that I wasn’t attracted too and it was a good choice. I got to meet and discuss topics with the event and fundraising coordinator of Safehaven and fell in love with what the company was doing.  She made it clear to me that working for a non-profit organization was the best decision she had made. I was extremely grateful for the assignment because it opened my eyes to new possibilities. I wasn’t at all attracted to what non-profit had to offer when I first entered this program, but I realized after meeting with my communicator it was because I really had no idea what the organizations did.

I had a similar experience when we visited Evergreen Brick Works for our media plan assignment. I had been to Evergreen before because of volunteer work, but I never really took the time to see what exactly the organization, especially the communications team, was doing to help improve Toronto. During the visit, I was exposed to all Evergreen had to offer, from what they were doing with water conservation to kids and families.

It was trips like these that changed my mind and made me want to work in the non-profit sector. Similarly, our event “It’s Your Moment” changed my mind.

Attending event management class was what I feared the most when coming into this program, but it turned out to be the most beneficial learning experience this semester. My team put together a jewelry fashion show with beauty vendors with proceeds going to Look Good Feel Better. Putting together such an elaborate first event changed my opinion of event management. I was intimated at first, coming from a background of just essay writing, but this experience taught me a lot. I enjoy working in a team environment most of the time and this certain project was the test. With four other personalities to work with, each of us quickly took our roles in the group to get the job done. It was challenging at times, but the process was what we would be doing in our placements and our jobs so I knew to take it one step at a time.

With our event being so successful, I was pushed more into wanting to work in the non-profit sector of public relations and shaped my thinking of my future career. Our accomplishments shocked me, starting with a zero budget and being able to accomplish all that we did was truly amazing.

Similar to the event project, every class has some sort of team work involved. Being in groups for different projects allowed me to take on different roles throughout the semester. I found myself being a leader and a listener at times. This really taught me how to be an effective communicator you have to be willing and able to take on different roles in group projects.

I also had the opportunity to expand my experience with all social media platforms. I thought having my own Twitter and Facebook was enough, but I quickly found out there is so much more out there for companies to be using.

Starting this blog let me express myself in a way I never thought possible. Thanks to CCPR I have gained so much knowledge into the wonderful world of PR and as I set out into the “real” world I will never forget what I have learned.

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Ford facing black lash over new Figo model ads

This weekend was hell for Ford Motor Co.’s public relations team. After receiving news that disturbing mockup print ads for the company’s Figo model were circulating the internet, it was all hands on deck.

The ads depicted women tied and gagged in the trunk of the car. One ad displays former Italian Prime Minister driving the car with three women tied up in the trunk.

“Leave your worries behind with Figo’s extra-large boot,” read the tagline.

Employees at the firm that had created the ads posted them to a website to show off their creativity. Ford states that these ads were NOT commissioned by the company OR approved.

This is a public relations nightmare to say the least, but Ford did all it could to respond quickly and gracefully and really what else can be done?

Ford’s statement

“We deeply regret this incident and agree with our agency partners that it should have never happened,” the company said in a statement. “The posters are contrary to the standards of professionalism and decency within Ford and our agency partners. Together with our partners, we are reviewing approval and oversight processes to help ensure nothing like this ever happens again.”

The company clearly states to the public that they are sorry for the actions of the company. They don’t place the blame, but rather they take control of the situation and explain how these ads are contrary to their standards of professionalism and similar to their agency partners.

But, Ford did make a mistake. Although they issued a public statement, the company had not issued an apology on its website or any social media platform. This becomes an issue because this is where the public goes for an inside look. They want a personal apology and what’s more personal than a company’s Twitter or Facebook page?

Nothing.

A lot can be learned from Ford’s mistake. They did react in a decent time and they did release a statement taking the blame but they missed a crucial part of the process – social media.

Ford could have issued an apology on their Twitter, I mean, it is only 140 characters.

Follow this issue : http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/03/25/ford-facing-backlash-after-ads-featuring-berlusconi-with-women-bound-in-trunk-of-his-car/

Check out what others think on the company’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ford

The Power of Pinterest- Building Your Brand

I am always on Pinterest. Any free second I have I am adding new styles to my fashion board, great recipes and even cute pictures of dogs. So, you could say I know first-hand how addicting Pinterest really is.

It was not until recently that I realized how much branding power Pinterest really has. I am constantly seeing pins from makeup companies promoting their new foundation to Apple endorsing their new iPhone 5 cases.

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The power of Pinterest has grown, but really, what is the fascination?  Why is pinning pictures to a virtual board about what is cool and stylish so fascinating to the public and companies?  To me, Pinterest is a great place to organize your favourite things easily. It’s an easy way to find great ideas and recipes right at your fingertips. But the question is, how did this social network gain so many followers so quickly and how have brands successful promoted themselves on this network.

Here are 4 ways to attract the attention of people like myself and to spread the word about a new products.

1. Spend the time

Like Twitter and Facebook, a company needs to be invested with its audience. Once you take the time to build key relationships, your brand will become more noticed/pinned, making it easier for consumers to start a conversation on other social networks.

2. Make sure your business is right for Pinterest.

As I have mentioned, as an active pinner I am constantly looking for new fashion trends and recipes. Most of the boards I am following are caters to individuals like myself. So, it is important for a company to be the right fit with Pinterest. Sometimes this means being creative with your brand and not just throwing pictures of things that are sold.

3. Promote more than products.

Playing off of the idea of a brand being creative, it is important for a company to use Pinterest in any way they can. This may mean promoting more than just a product itself. Posting ideas, tips and interesting facts about other companies that work well with your brand is an easy way to keep pinners pinning.

4. Connect your Pinterest to other social feeds.

Last but certainly not least, for a company to be successful, they need to make sure they are linking their pins to their website, Twitter or Facebook feed. Pinterest is a great place for a brand to give consumers a small piece of information, leaving them to want more. This is why it is important for companies to be linking their accounts to their social feeds. If a consumer sees what they like on Pinterest, it is a guarantee that once they explore a company website, they will find more of what they like.

Pinning is a great and easy way for a brand to get well known and a great place for known brands to get more traffic.

Read more on how a brand can successful use Pinterest:

http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/26-tips-for-using-pinterest-for-business/

A Writing Filled Career

Interviewer: “What would you say is your greatest strength?”

Interviewee: “Writing, I LOVE to write, I have always been passionate about it.”

Everyone likes to write. Being able to put a pen to paper and write down your thoughts is an incredible feeling. But the question is, can everyone write well?

The PR industry is filled with multiple areas of study. From journalism, to math to business, everyone is coming from a different background of writing.

As an English major, I was taught a certain way to write which evidently has NOT helped me in the long run. It has made me passionate about writing, but realistically has not taught me how to write concise, straight to the point, only the facts writing.

PR training has.

Entering into the profession, we will need to know how to write everything, from business proposals to writing effective tweets in less than 140 characters. Basically, writing will be our career.

With this being said, how does a young professional looking to enter into the competition stand out from the next?

  1. Practice self-editing.

I love proofreading… other peoples work. Proofreading my own documents is a chore, but taking the time to proof and revise my own work will make the difference. I am always catching simple errors that could be avoided if only I simply re read my work.

      2. Learn to love style guides.

Buy the book, read it, learn it and love to use it. I am slowly understanding how important my style guide is to my everyday life. It is the universal way of communicating with all professionals – writing and editing all media materials, from press releases to memos.

I never thought that knowing the difference between there, their and they’re would make such an impact on my life, but it has.

Writing and grammar goes a long way in this industry and is always evolving, but as the saying goes.. practice makes perfect so my advice is to always have your style guide beside you.

Being able to write concise and being able to edit your own work will make or break you.

Interviewer: “What would you say is your greatest strength?”

Interviewee: “I am passionate about writing and have the ability to write strong concise pieces of work with little to no grammar mistakes.”

It may seem silly, but it will make that much of a difference.

Read more tips on how to improve your writing :  http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/15_writing_tips_from_a_journalist_turned_PR_pro_12732.aspx

 

“One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.”

Never say no comment

As my knowledge advances in the world of PR, there is one thing that sticks out…

NEVER SAY NO COMMENT.”

Going with this theme, I thought I would write my entry dedicated to the TOP THREE THINGS that should be avoided during media interviews.

1. Don’t ignore a question or respond with “NO COMMENT.”

By responding with no comment, the audience will believe you are hiding something from them. If you find yourself not being able to answer the question, simply answer what you can and promise to follow up later. Although the audience might still question what your saying, at least you are offering an alternative.
If a reporter or someone from the media is asking for a comment on a rumour, be it true or false, simply be up front or say something non committing, something that you won’t be quoted on later.

2. Don’t rely on corporate sounding messages.

During an interview you should always be promoting your company or brand and trying to slide in as many key messages as you can but, the trick is to make them heart felt. This way, you can reach a wider audience. Sometimes to conquer this, a corporation needs to choose a spokesperson, someone who has the ability to speak, and speak well.
Although many organizations opt to have their CEO deliver a message, it is well advised to make sure either the CEO is tested and can deliver the message no problem OR the organization has a designated spokesperson to offer an insight to the problem. But, I believe that when a company is dealing with a huge crisis, the CEO should be the face presented to the public then, the public trusts that the company is doing everything it can and that they are not hiding anything.

3. Don’t lose your temper.

There have been sometimes when I’m in a professional situation and I just want to voice my opinion, but the only way it will come out is me…losing my temper so, mastering this is CRUCIAL. It may seem easy, you may think, “okay yeah, I am on TV why would I lose my temper and make my brand look bad,” but when the situation arises, it’s a whole other story.
The interviewee needs to find a balance between being calm and showing energy and passion. A question may arises during an interview that you are not ready to answer, or puts your company in a bad light. Instead of avoiding the question, which may result in you losing your temper, simply stick to your key messages when in doubt. Just give concise, straight –to-the-point answers. By doing this, you won’t lose control in an interview or give an inaccurate statement.

Okay so, it’s a given that one time somewhere, we will all screw up. We won’t stick to the key messages or we might say no comment even when we know we shouldn’t. But, at least there are a few ways to avoid messing up in an interview with the media.

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Read more don’ts when dealing with the media:
http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/14_nonos_to_avoid_during_media_interviews_13694.aspx#

A PR Nightmare

All it takes is a single click, an employee logged into the wrong account, a joke gone wrong or an uploaded photo to create a public relations disaster.

After reading some corporate social fails, like the KitchenAid tweet during one of the presidential debates and the uploaded picture of a Burger King employee standing on the lettuce from the restaurant, I got to questioning how successful these large corporations were with their responses to these unpredicted crises.  

It’s one thing if a team has some time to acknowledge the situation at hand, then prep and consult for a short period of time, but how would you handle a social media slip when you know you only have, maybe, a minute or two to respond?

Do you ignore the problem and hope no one will notice?

Of course not!

We live in an age of technology. We live in a world where fast, isn’t fast enough. So, if you’re company is on twitter, facebook or any social media outlet, you know the public is going to see your every move and be quick to respond.

So, looking back at what were said to be the biggest PR disasters of 2012, the question is – did the companies do an effective job at responding to the issue and informing the public what had happened?

First, let’s look at how a PR disaster was managed positivley.

In my opinion, KitchenAid is a perfect example of a company responding quickly and effectively to their crisis. After an inappropriate tweet sent to readers about Obama during one of the presidential debates, KitchenAid deleted the tweet and responded quickly to the matter. They made it clear to their followers and the general public that the joke did not reflect the values at KitchenAid. They also clearly stated that this person who tweeted out, would not be tweeting anymore.

Now, why was this successful?

  1. KitchenAid responded quickly and deleted the post.
  2. The company address their brand, announcing to the public that the joke did not reflect their values.
  3. KitchenAid provided the public with their solution. They announced publicly that something was being done about the slip up.

KitchenAid addressed the problem immediately which, in turn, made it no longer a problem. Although this issue is small compared to larger incidents that companies have dealt with, the company responded in a timely manner, addressed their brand letting the public know that they were not behind the problem and provided a solution.

Now onto the good stuff.

American Appeal is an excellent example of a company that did not respond quickly enough to it’s public’s outcry. During Hurricane Sandy, the clothing store American Appeal used the storm to sell merchandise. The store had a “sandysale” online. Several customers responded with tweets disgusted at the stores not-so-funny marketing strategy.

Now, I understand making light of a hard situation. Humour does work in tough times and American Appeal is known for going against the grain, but after receiving the public’s response, you would assume the company would somehow apologize for the tasteless joke.

It didn’t.

So, as you can see, there are ways of addressing a corporate social fail.

You either do, or you don’t.

And if you chose to address the issue head on, you better make sure, as these examples have shown, that you inform your public on what is happening.

Read more PR disasters of 2012: http://www.businessinsider.com/biggest-pr-disasters-of-2012-2012-11?op=1

 

a colourful look inside

After a dynamic two hours of tossing around a ball, talking to strangers and yelling out inappropriate words, I came to the conclusion that I’m not only an orange but also a green, blue and a tiny drop of gold. Who would have thought after a workshop on colours, my fellow corporate communicators and I would understand our weaknesses and strengths in one simple process. The “colours” workshop showed my strengths and my weaknesses, but most importantly showed me who I can become if I pull that box that’s far away in the back of my closet out for everyone to see.

The “colours” workshop opened my eyes to see how I contribute to a team environment. As an orange sky being creative is one of my main strengths, but after the workshop I learned that there are more things I bring to the table. I constantly see the big picture during projects which helps keep things on track and I am also a good listener. I know everyone likes to think they are a good listener, but there is a big difference when you have to listen and understand five people who all think they are right, talk about five different topics all at once that have nothing to do with an assignment. That’s when the good listening skills come in.

What surprised me the most during the workshop was the characteristics that came along with the colour gold. Although gold was the lowest score I got on the test, learning about the colour made me think I am not doomed after all. I am a complete time freak. If I need to be somewhere at a certain time I will be there, no if’s ands or buts. Apparently, this is can be seen as a strength. You would think being a time freak would make me paranoid about getting assignments done but, it’s the application of this skill I need to improve on.

Now, let’s talk about my weaknesses or what my elementary teachers would say daily, the “needs improvement” section. As we went over a gold communicator’s characteristics I knew this was where I needed the most improvement. I am never so excited about finishing a project, other than handing it in, that I want to start right away. I do not have a to-do list in my room, nor am I devoted to keeping my agenda up to date. I try to be as organized as I can but I work well in chaos and under pressure. This is where I need the most improvement. As we progress through the program I constantly see how important it is to future employers to stay on task, be organized, using charts, lists, and schedules. Not only do we as individuals need to be prepared but as a team.

After being in groups for our various assignments, I have learned that each of us brings a different perspective to the table. Our group dynamic works great. In our group you can tell straight away who the golds are, the greens, blues and oranges. We all use our strengths to complete our projects. It’s obvious through our group dynamics that if we were all one colour, let’s say orange, ideas would be flowing, conversation would be great, plans to get together would be made and no work would get done. On that note, it’s great to have a gold mine in a group for assignments. As we continue to work in our groups and I learn more about what future employers will want, individuals who are gold are the people I most admire and am learning from.

Although golds bring a lot to a working environment Doug, the facilitator of the “colours” workshop, made it clear through his style and presentation that being an outgoing, dynamic orange can have a major impact on the way people communicate. His body language and tone of voice made the presentation a success. He was engaging with his audience and presented a tell-it-like it is attitude. He made it clear that everyone has their strengths but everyone also has their weaknesses and it is crucial to learn about yourself and about your team to be successful in the future.

If “Communicate Naturally™” was a movie, I would give it five stars only because it lets you see inside other peoples work habits and it would ultimately have a happy ending because it focuses on learning about yourself and how you can improve.

After this workshop I looked back at my time spent as a Tim Hortons employee. Although the job was not mentally challenging to me, it was the perfect environment to learn how to communicate well with others which, can be difficult. Spending eight hours in a tiny space with a vast amount of “colours” can help you understand how team dynamics works. Ultimately, the “colours” workshop taught me that although everyone may need improvement, there is always room to grow.

it’s all a learning experience