TOW

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TOW – 4

As someone who enjoys variety and trying new things, I simply can’t wait to start a career in Public Relations. This field is so unique because it spans across all disciplines. There are opportunities to become more specialized in one area, or to keep things generalized.

Another aspect that draws me to Public Relations is the connections I will make with people of all walks of life. I enjoy learning about and connecting with new cultures. Advances in technology have made our world a ‘global village’ of sorts. I know I will meet and work with people from all over the world!

Case studies in Public Relations has offered many great takeaways I will use going forward:

  • Time management – It is of utmost importance, it will make or break relationships and client accounts.
  • Objectives – Clear objectives support the all other elements of a communications plan. They must be simple and measurable to facilitate success.
  • Audiences – Knowing your audience is essential. Without it, the message is apt to fail.
  • Advertising DOES NOT EQUAL Public Relations. (Had to make mention of this as we went over it lots!)

The courses I have taken this year have given me a good foundation to be an effective communicator. I am anxious to contribute to the workforce!

TOW – 3: Will it Blend? Blend, it will.

Prior to reviewing this case, had someone told me with the mere budget of $50.00 one was able to boost sales by 700%, I would have laughed. I would have wondered what type of highly dangerous magic tricks were involved and how I could replicate them in order to eradicate my student loans. Alright, I am kidding. Almost.

Blendtec‘s highly successful ‘Will it Blend’ campaign both peaked my interest and offered great takeaways from a Public Relations standpoint. Who does not want to see everyday items blended to smithereens? Check out my personal favourite, ‘Will it Blend – iPad’

I especially love the call to action for people to request items to feature in future videos!

Learning wise, this campaign shows us that brands can develop unique, creative and cost effective ways to engage an audience. Blendtec’s concept was extremely simple and humorous. CEO, Tom Dickson brings an otherwise boring topic to life!

Everything has a story. It’s about coming at it from an angle that helps others connect with it in some way.

TOW – 2 

Occupy Wall Street was not a PR failure, but its message has certainly become more difficult to sustain. This movement garnished astounding media coverage in its infancy and its message was clear: people were fed up with inequalities, income or otherwise. This message is powerful, but has become somewhat hard to follow. This message applies to issues worldwide – there are ‘occupy’ movements for various issues (The Occupied Wall Street Journal has all the updates). The overall message lacks a clear direction as to how it can and will come to fruition. There doesn’t seem to be strong leadership.

Equality is very important. Unfortunately inequality spans over countless issues and affects everyone one way or another. The overall goal of this movement is to improve inequality issues…wouldn’t that be better achieved by choosing fewer issues to lobby for at a time? Bite off what you can chew and go back for seconds! In order to see actual political change, a narrower focus needs to be taken. This would entail outlining key goals and measurable objectives, followed by a specific marketing and communications plan that would support these efforts. Perhaps the various inequality topics could be represented by individual groups that belonged to an ‘Occupy Wall Street Association’. Each subgroup would represent an issue that most interests them. They would all form an organized coalition under the Occupy Wall Street umbrella. Their business model may look similar to that of the United Food & Commercial Workers International Union, a cluster of various groups campaigning to Make Changes at Wal-Mart world-wide.

In order for the Occupy Wall Street Movement to continue to grow, and make changes to legislation, stronger leadership with much better/clearer organization needs to be implemented. That way the message won’t get drowned out by all the noise!

TOW – 1

1) I did not avidly follow golfer Tiger Woods prior to his sex addiction scandal, but I always thought he was a classy guy. This may in part be due to my perceptions of  the sport in general. I worked at a golf and country club over a summer and learned quite a bit. Golfers tend to be early risers and sharp dressers. Their shoes are polished, their shorts are pressed. On-lookers applaud politely at tournaments and caddies help players move efficiently through the course. The game itself requires critical thinking, concentration and good athletic ability. Tiger Woods was the envy of all those in the golf world. He was at the top of his game, winning world tournaments and greatly benefiting by various sponsors. He had a beautiful wife and two children. Once his scandal broke, his wife, sponsors and affiliates ran for the hills. No one could distance themselves fast enough from this sex crazed man. Needless to say I no longer think of Tiger as classy at all. (Check out his interesting ‘apology’ here. Undoubtedly written by his PR professional.)

2) I have always been a goal orientated individual. I have also always had an interest in sports and fitness. I was fortunate to grow up in a very active family and have been involved in sports all my life. From spearheading my high school’s first-ever girls rugby team, coaching young children diving and training for a half-marathon I LOVE physical activity. I am extremely interested in learning more about diet with proper nutrition and exercise with proper form. I was seeking out another fitness related goal and came across Andrea Smith’s Get Ready Girls Program. I know a few girls that have taken her bootcamps. I love her core concept of instilling commitment, consistency and confidence in young women. A mix of testimonials, strong online presence and her credentials persuaded me to enrol in her competitive program.

3) Capital punishment is something I’ve always thought that I believed in. When someone takes a life why should taxpayers support them in prison? Why should they ever be able to be rehabilitated into society? Capital punishment was a a black and white issue for me, that is until the case of David Milgaard who spent 23 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. With advances in technology, DNA testing was greatly improved since his sentencing. (Here is a brief synopsis of his case.)

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4) This comment follows Editing article by Tori Patrick. It is important to review editing techniques for effective writing.

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3) This comment speaks to Ann Ittoop’s Personal branding: 5 components to help you land a job article. I look forward to employing these techniques as I enter the workforce.

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2) This comment relates to Jeff Korhan’s article 3 Facebook Hashtag Marketing Tips. With Facebook recently adding this feature, it will be really cool to see how brands are able to use it!

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1) This comment pertains to social media strategist, Jason Miller’s article 7 Reasons Your Facebook Page is a Hot Mess. Lots of helpful information, give it a read!

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Reflections

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As Public Relations Fundamentals II comes to an end, I have been asked to comment on three key learnings I will take away from this course.

  1. The importance of keeping up with current events – Keeping up with local, national and international news is vital in this line of work. I will be far more of an asset to my future employer by knowing what’s going on in the world around me. We’ve had many In the News Today class discussions and I wasn’t able to comment as much as I would have liked. Tools such as media/blog monitoring service, Feedly will help me as I go forward.
  2. Research is vital- Quality research should be the foundation of any plan, communications or other. With the proper research one can develop strategy to facilitate organizational objectives. I did have a working knowledge of this concept; but it is now that the learning has really sunk in. At times, the right side of my brain is in overdrive wanting to skip more creative aspects of a project. I need to remind myself to exercise the left side of my brain more to put my creative thoughts to best use afterwards.
  3. Crisis Communication Planning – Every organization, no matter the size should have a crisis communications plan in place. Timing is everything. Public perception can drastically change for the worse in no time at all. Choosing to not address the situation is definitely NOT the way to go. Deleting any form of public communications that have previously been made is NOT the way to go. If any organization’s will be released pending investigation – let the public know! Organization’s need to control the message and be as forthcoming as they can.

I also learned a lot about the Public Relations process from the communications pitch we presented to members of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. This was my first experience bidding on a project for a perspective client. I took so much away from this project. I became more knowledgable on human rights issues and gained a greater sense of self-awareness. I learned a lot about different group dynamics and how to compromise in ways I wouldn’t have thought possible prior to this project. I saw first hand how the art of Public Relations and Marketing work hand in hand – presentation is everything. One can have the nicest gift to offer, yet it can be drastically undervalued if it is not wrapped properly. Details matter, big or small they can be the pitfall(s) to an otherwise sound plan. This project taught me the importance of seeking knowledge on a granular level so that the only question the client is asking is “Do you agree with the terms of this contract?”

Jack of all Trades, Master of None

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Last week I had the pleasure of interviewing Dwight MacAulay, Chief of Protocol for the Government of Manitoba. I came to know Dwight through a student networking event, ‘Backpack to Briefcase’  that I organized on behalf of the Canadian Public Relations Society. As one of three panelists, Dwight provided networking tips on dealing with government officials and dignitaries. As a student, networking with professionals can seem daunting at times – So the elevator speech went well? Great! Now what to say..and for how long? Do I seem like I am lingering? Well, I got the business card…how do I follow up?!

Dwight’s warm smile, light demeanour and sound advice put our minds at ease. He told us to be ourselves, be genuine and not to worry about rejections as students. His resume for lack of a better term is so freaking cool. His started out in radio and television. He has had an extremely interesting career working with everyone from rockstars to royalty! Needless to say, I was tickled pink when Dwight invited me to his office at the Manitoba Legislative Building to talk about one of his favourite projects.

Dwight and I

Dwight and I

While he has had vast experience hosting royals from Princess Anne during the PanAm Games in 1999; which marked the longest royal visit ever of 6 days, to 1984’s most popular royal couple: the visit of Prince Andrew and Sarah, he chose to speak on his experiences organizing visits from Queen Elizabeth in both 2002 and 2010.

Royal visits garnish a great deal of international media. A visit from the Queen presents many opportunities to showcase your city on the world stage. The rhetorical question of What is Winnipeg?  is answered to primary (the Queen/locals), secondary (national), and tertiary (international) audiences. First and foremost the objective is to show unprecedented hospitality to the Queen, while leveraging the magnitude of her profile to showcase Winnipeg’s many unique attributes. Visits are centered around people, events, structures and food.

Extensive planning and attention to detail is essential to ensuring the success of these projects. Each royal visit plan has consisted of 20-30 significant columns ranging from security, being of upmost importance; media planning; transportation logistics, all the way down to parking; various points of contact; cultural nuances, with respect to differences such as gift exchange; to menu selection. Did the Queen have pickerel yesterday? If so – the menu needs adjusting. (As was the case for the 2010 Government House Luncheon!)

Dwight’s mantra is to “Be the Jack of all Trades and Master of None”. This meaning you absolutely know how all the pieces of the puzzle fit together from the biggest to most minuscule detail. A successful event is one where no one knows you were even there. A strong team is needed: start with a small nucleus and build outward. Dwight keeps his team in the loop throughout the entire process, sharing every detail even if said team member isn’t supposed to carry out that specific piece of the puzzle. Leading a team in this way requires a Master Degree in Micromanagement – but not in the negative sense! It’s not that you do everything, but you do need to make everything as seamless as possible.

This is easier said than done. Often, plans are tentative until the last minute as to when exactly the guest of honour will arrive and the duration of their stay. To best facilitate this process one must determine interest with many while tactfully communicating that there is only a chance the Queen may be able to attend your event/venue. Over-plan essentially and trim the fat as you go along to make the best use of resources come time to the event.

The Queen’s visit in 2010 included a trip to the newly renovated airport; an Aboriginal cultural performance at The Forks; visits with cadets, seniors and the Winnipeg Corgi Dog Club (Her Majesty’s favourite breed, who knew!). Queen Elizabeth also partook in a a formal unveiling of the cornerstone for the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. This event also displayed the Magna Carta, the first ever significant document on the modern concept of human rights from Britain dating back to 1215. Read more here.

Dwight stressed the importance of always having contingency plans in place. No event goes exactly as planned, but nobody knows but you! This visit was challenging due to many uncontrollable factors. The Queen’s visit was 2 hours behind schedule and she was to take a boat across the Red River…it stalled…TWICE! It didn’t help that the weather was a little colder than expected, but the rain could not have been any better (See what happened). Dwight also recalled the serendipitous nature of the rain. Rain was on and off in the most favorable way – it would rain while Queen Elizabeth was in the plane and miraculously stop as she had to walk to the car; rain again en route and stop on queue as she had to step out of the car. This happened all day!

All in all this visit went extremely well, so much so that Dwight was invested as Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO) by the Queen. After doing a little digging, I found that Dwight was the first Manitoban to receive such an honour.

Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO)

Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO)

It was an absolute pleasure to interview Dwight! I am very grateful that he took time out of his day to meet with me. Other helpful tips he offered included:

  • Writing is the foundation of everything. Get as much practice as you can and you will soon see how you become more adept at the art of writing and communicating.
  • Read out loud. Practice reading the paper, you will quickly notice that your voice carries better and an improvement in your enunciation.

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As a Public Relations and Marketing student I have commented on several blog posts below. I want to join in on the conversation – please engage with me! I invite you to check out these articles and throw in your two cents as well!

3) This comment is in reference to blog post by Nick Cicero, 11 Brands already using Video for Instagram. It is very interesting to see how businesses engage audiences using different forms of social media. In this particular comment I joined in on the conversation between Nick and marketing professional, David Foster. It will be exciting to see if I get any response!

2) This comment relates to blog post by Barb Jones, Create Messages that Stick. This article highlights the importance of creating clear and concise messaging.

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1) The following comment pertains to an article, Playing the Ant by Rick Chambers, owner and president of Rick Chambers & Associates, LLC. Nice read, I recommend Public Relations professionals go take a look!

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Fastrack’s Fast Track Faux Pas

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Hello world!

I will be pulling out some new PR related goodies from my armoire, let the fun begin! In the wonderful world of Public Relations creative minds think up catchy slogans, reeling hooks and juicy stories. PR pros live in the whimsical world of Samantha Jones of Sex in the City and life is fabulous! Okay, maybe the latter is a bit of an exaggeration but a girl can dream, can’t she?

Daydreams aside, Public Relations does involve fun creative elements, but there has to be a solid well thought out plan to bring those elements to life! Mama did not decorate the table before stuffing the turkey, did she? (Okay, again that may be a wee bit of a bad example seeing as Mama Liz often decorates our table days in advance because all of our holidays are over the top…I will save that for another day). Bottom line tactical elements of any campaign come after the strategy! 

Public Relations is about solid communication whereas its target audience understands the message and its purpose. That seems pretty straightforward, but is not always as easily carried out in real life.

This past February Indian fashion label, Fastrack was on a fast track to increase its Facebook following by 10 million in 40 days. They promised to change their name based on customer feedback once they had reached their goal. Here is their promotional video explaining the ‘challenge’.

Interesting rebranding choice if I do say so myself! In short, they did not reach their target and judging by some digging I’ve done on Facebook there was some miscommunication that took place. Let us dissect our specimen!

Side note- As a Public Relations student I am merely speculating on information I’ve found that is still readily available on the internet. I in no way want to offend anyone at Fastrack! PPS. Some of your watches and sunglasses are fab!

As mentioned the in video, boosting a following by 10 million in 40 days had never been done before. Fastrack’s call to action was simple: like our page and we’ll change our name. Clarity was needed in the following ways:

  • What was the initial need for the name change? Was this even something customers would approve of?
  • Under what criteria would the new name be chosen?

Throughout the 40 day challenge, Fastrack posted many updates on the status of their pending name change:

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This is what they offered as possible name changes:

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There were an overwhelming amount of comments saying Fastrack was just fine the way it was. Many commented that  the challenge was merely an April Fools coo to attract more followers and that Fastrack would never actually change their name.

ImageFastrack did not reply to anything social media wise! They had countless opportunities to engage with their audience. I did not find one single reply on their behalf!

Fastrack should take Susie Parker’s Keeping it Real Social Media Tips. Every message a business sends out speaks to their brand. I realize that keeping up with a large following is essentially a full time job that may not seem viable in terms of return on investment because it is somewhat intangible. However, brand perception is EVERYTHING. Consumers have countless substitute products that are vying for their business. How a business chooses to communicate with their audience sets them apart from competitors. Had users felt acknowledged, it may have affected the outcome of their campaign. (Pssst! Fastrack, I graduate in August.)

There were also an overwhelming number of positive comments as well to keep the name as is. This may elude to a lack of research prior to the campaign, or perhaps it was a tactic to do the opposite? Bring the brand advocates to the forefront to speak to the brand as Fastrack simply wouldn’t?

Following the challenge, Fastrack posted:

Screen Shot 2013-06-04 at 10.12.52 AMI am with the majority of users that do not think that Fastrack would have changed its name. I highly doubt it would have been cost effective, its effects on brand recognition alone are concerning. This touches back to the element of authenticity in REAL social media practices. Trust takes forever to earn and seconds to destroy. Did Fastrack have the proper strategy in place had they reached their goal of 10 million? Did they really evaluate all that would encompass a complete rebrand like that? Was the name suggestion ‘PSYTIME’ in reference to Gangnam Style Korean rapper, Psy? Sigh.

Yes, they did increase their following significantly. 1 million people in 40 days is striking, but were those quality followers? Will these new followers even see Fastrack’s Facebook posts? As per Facebook’s set up, users’ Newsfeed is organized by “Top Stories” or “Most Recent”, this does not organize feeds in chronological order. Newsfeeds become tailored based on a users activity. This is troublesome for businesses because those subscribed will only see posts based on their level of engagement with them! Fastrack may have an impressive amount of Facebook Likes, but it would be interesting to have a look at their insights page!

Fastrack has a lot going for them – they are edgy, hip and fresh! They have immense potential to successfully connect with their target market. They should employ better strategies that support tactics to ensure they have a quality following that is engaged with their brand!

Any PR fumbles that come to mind? Search your armoire and give this budding PR student your valuable insight!

 

 

Some like it hot

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The cooking frenzy continues! This dish packed some serious heat! Just invented ‘Spaghetti squash all’arrabbiata’ 

Arrabbiata means angry in Italian, it is not for the faint of heart.

To recreate this fiery masterpiece, you will need:

  • 1 med sized spaghetti squash
  • Fresh spinach
  • Banana pepper rings
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic

Heat the spaghetti squash (uncut) for 2 minutes on high. This will help to cut it open more easily. Be careful, it will be a little hot- I grab a clean dish towel to help hold it when cutting. Once cut, scoop out the pumpkin/cantelope-like interior. Place the two halfs on a place face down (rind face up) with a little bit on water on the plate. Heat for an additional 8 mintues on high. This will steam the inside!

In a pan combine 1 tsp olive oil, 1tsp minced garlic, and 3 Tbsp banana pepper rings. This allows the pan to pick up the spicy goodness.

Take a fork to the squash and scrape horizontally across the rind. Spaghetti-like noodles will fall on the plate! (For anyone that hasn’t had spaghetti squash before, it’s so cool! As a pasta lover, I was amazed to have found this as a substitute..you can pair it with any sauce!)

Add spaghetti squash and 3 handfuls of spinach to pan. Stir for a few mins. Finish with cracked pepper! Yields 5-6 servings!

Spaghetti Squash All'arrabbiata!

Spaghetti Squash All’arrabbiata!

I’ve only got run real love..

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You will hate running for the first three weeks. Guaranteed. Your body and mind will scream at you frivolously to stop. Your feet will retaliate with blisters. Your lungs will burn, and your breathing won’t be pretty-neither will your makeup so please please please don’t be one of those girls.

I hope this hasn’t scared any of you newbies off! You’ll soon realize that your body quickly adapts to the positive changes- it is the mind that requires additional coaxing. You’ll actually look forward to being sore- as ridiculous as that sounds, it’s 100% true.

Running is a simple equation of mind over matter.

Are you really too tired to push out that last mile? Can you really really not do this?

More often than not the answer will be no. Don’t fall victim to “I can’t” because honey perception is reality.

Running will become a love of your life if you let it. Like any other relationship it takes work, pushes you beyond your limits, teaches you a heck of a lot about yourself, gives you plenty of reason to go shopping and is always there-come rain or shine just grab your shoes and go.

My time was 2:11:35

My time was 2:11:35

And like any relationship, it has its ups and downs. So goes the story with my running. In September 2010 I decided to get serious about running and started training for a half marathon. Prior to that I had always been active, but I’d never had a concrete fitness goal. In 8 short months, I ran the Peach City Half Marathon in Penticton, British Colombia. I was elated to have reached my goal. I thought running would just be a part of my life from then on out…

Fast forward to a summer of working at a golf course and spending way to many nights at the local beach bar. Lung capacity gone. Muscle endurance gone. Intense energy levels gone.

I had worked so hard to achieve my goal, yet I had done nothing to keep it up. Whoever said ‘fail to plan, plan to fail’ was right.

Since then I have been a casual runner, but Running I’m ready to go-steady again, I swear! I know I have to rebuild your trust, and the road ahead won’t be a bed of roses (cue blisters, lung burning, and irregular breathing) but I miss you and life isn’t the same without you!

So I’m taking on the Manitoba Half Marathon June 16, 2013. I’m determined to reconnect with my old school love. Only 3 months! Let’s do this!

Side note-I’ve also signed up for the ‘Color Me Rad 5k’ in July! If any of you Winnipeggers want to join my team, be my guest! Here is the information you need to be on my team:

  • Last name-Rhodes
  • Team name-The RADiators (so clever, I know)
  • 10am wave

Faux Fur, Real Flakes

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Guess had an awesome sale this past weekend-50% off all clearance items! I got a great haul:

  • Indigo blue bomber jacket
  • Pastel sheeny pink fitted blazer
  • Off the shoulder dusty rose scoop top
  • Fabulous faux fur vest

And so was inspired a faux fur-real snow flakes photo shoot. Anna and I froze our little touchies off to snap these! We used various spots around the downtown Exchange District in Winnipeg as well as ‘Into the Music’

Enjoy!

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Fun in the kitchen

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Lately I’ve been having lots of fun in the kitchen! I don’t necessary follow recipes to a tee.. (who actually has all the fancy shmancey ingredients recipes call for?!) but they’ve been turning out wonderfully! And it is tons of fun to professionally name recipes as well! I present to you ‘Dill Baked Egg’ and ‘Honey nut Carr-berrie Salad’

I loosely followed a recipe found on the Fitness Magazine website and it turned out amazing!(Original recipe here)

Ingredients

Ingredients

You will need:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 carrot
  • Handful of spinach
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 pickle
  • 5 strawberries
  • 5 pecan halves
  • 1 tsp pure creamed honey
  • 1 tbsp cottage cheese

‘Dill baked egg’-Heat oven to 375, coat ramekin with 1 tsp olive oil. Layer tomato on the bottom and build w spinach. Whisk an egg, shave a dill pickle into mixture! Top with more sliced tomato and 1 tbsp cottage cheese. Bake for 20 mins.

‘Honey nut Carr-berrie salad’ -1 carrot grated, cut. 3 strawberries sliced. 5 pecan halves diced. 1 tsp pure creamed honey, heated for 30 seconds. Combine pecans + honey and spoon over salad!

Deelicious!

Deelicious!

Perfect sweet and salty combination! The dill pickle was unusual and added great flavor! The salad was so fresh and crisp! I will definitely be adding this to my cooking repertoire armoire!

What are your healthy concoctions?!