As we start wrapping up our summer semester in Introduction to Public Relations class, it’s time to end the semester in my traditional way: by watching a classic episode of the classic 1970s TV show “WKRP in Cincinnati” :: “Turkeys Away.”
According to the Internet Movie Database: “[Station manager] Mr. Carlson is beginning to feel useless at the new formatted rock station so he decides to create a big Thanksgiving Day promotion. His idea? Get a helicopter, with a banner attached to it saying “Happy Thanksgiving From WKRP…” Then, based on a botched promotion from a radio station in Arkansas, live turkeys are dropped from a helicopter. Chaos ensues.
Take 20 or so minutes to watch the episode below, keeping in mind what you’ve learned in PRCA 2330 during the semester.
So what can public relations students learn about how NOT to do a promotion from Mr. Carlson’s fiasco? I’ll get the list started:
- Communicate with your entire team before launching a promotional campaign (or a turkey).
- Do your research! It’s best to learn ahead of time that turkeys don’t fly.
- Get permission before doing a stunt.
What would you add to this list? Add your thoughts in the comments below.
This morning, I had the pleasure of taking a two-hour floral photography safari in Mounts Botanical Garden in W. Palm Beach, FL. It was beautiful and serene there, all except for the every-five-minute takeoffs and landings at the airport across the street. Oh well.
Here are a few of the 100+ pictures I took today.
After reviewing all the first news releases in PRCA 3330, I am generally pleased with what I saw, considering it is the first news release you have written. Many of the news releases were spot-on; they were newsworthy and clearly written. You must have remembered what you learned in your Intro to Journalism class!
Here are some common errors I saw:
- Improper use of commas (either too many or not enough)
- Puffery (making statements in the news release that don’t seem newsworthy. Some of these would be okay as part of a quotation, however.)
- Format (forgetting to put an embargo date or For Immediate Release, end sign, page slugs, letterhead with mailing address, etc.)
- Calling women “girls” or “ladies” (even though it’s common in sororities to do this, AP Style calls for the use of the word “women” when you are writing about female adults)
- Abbreviating the word Georgia as GA, rather than Ga. as AP Style calls for
- Using “we” or “our” when it’s not part of a quotation (a news release needs to sound like a story one would read in an impartial newspaper, not in a company newsletter)
- Improper formatting on dates, times, numerals, etc.
Be sure to avoid these errors when writing your Personality Profiles that are due next week.
To learn how to see my specific feedback for you in GeorgiaVIEW, see this short video below.
Let’s face it . . . whether you’re a PR student, practitioner or faculty member, we’re all busy. So how can you get (and stay) up to speed with the ever-changing world of public relations? Here’s a quick guide to how I stay current in public relations.
One: Listen to PR podcasts.
Some of my favorite podcasts are: For Immediate Release, Inside PR, The Creative Career, Trafcom News, Marketing Over Coffee and Coming Up PR. My favorite time to listen to podcasts is during my daily two-mile walks in this sweltering Florida heat. I also listen to them when I drive, work out and clean the house. Some people prefer to listen to podcasts on their computers; my preference is listening to them on my Palm Pre or iPod.
Here’s a short video on how to subscribe to and download podcasts using iTunes. If you’re not an iTunes person, you may want to visit Podcast Alley, where you can find thousands more podcasts. You can listen to the podcasts directly from the website.
Two: Subscribe to daily or weekly PR e-mailed newsletters.
My favorite PR newsletter is one that comes into my inbox daily from Ragan Communications: the PR Daily newsfeed. When I want to read the latest on PR, this is the newsletter I turn to first. Another helpful newsletter comes from Chris Brogan; Chris provides different content in the newsletter than he does on his blog, so it’s definitely worth subscribing.
Three: Follow PR practitioners on Twitter.
Are you a public relations student (or recent grad) just getting started using Twitter? Try following some (or all) of these people or organizations in my Twitter Starter Pack for PR Students. They all have something in common: they tweet useful or interesting information for people involved in public relations.
Four: Read PR blogs.
There are hundreds of blogs about public relations. I’ve bookmarked many of them in Delicious for you. You can subscribe to them using your favorite RSS reader (such as Google Reader), or just read them on the web. Some of the most helpful blogs I’ve discovered recently include The Comms Corner and Karen Russell’s Week’s Best (which I just learned is on hiatus for the summer), as they aggregate current posts of interest to PR practitioners.
Five: Watch the news on TV.
Yes, I said “watch the news on TV.” I mean on a real TV, with a complete newscast, not just bits and bobs that you catch online. I start off every day a steaming mug or three of chicory coffee and at least an hour of broadcast news, usually with 15 or so minutes of local news followed by the Today Show. By knowing what’s going on in the world, it helps frame the snippets of stories I read or hear online throughout the day. To be sure that I’m keeping up on the news, I also listen to the podcast version of NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me weekly news quiz. (I sometimes even play the Lightning Round of Wait Wait in class on Mondays to see how much my students know about what’s going on in the world.)
What additional resources would you recommend?
(NOTE: This post is an updated version of one I wrote in early January 2010.)
So that you are prepared for our next blog checkpoint, which will take place sometime after June 12, please complete this form. (NOTE: You will need to scroll to get to the bottom of the form.)
In my Summer 2010 PRCA 2330 & PRCA 3330 classes, students have created their blogs and have started blogging. The blogs are worth a significant portion of the grades in these classes. Here are some tips for students based on me reading the initial blog posts.
3 Things Done Well
- You wrote conversationally.
- You spoke your minds.
- You backed up your assertions with examples.
5 Things to Watch Out For
- Typos: Avoid at all costs. WordPress has a spell checker that can catch many of your errors, but not all. (And if you see a typo on a classmate’s blog, why not contact the classmate to let him or her know?)
- Use proper English sentence case. (That means don’t write in all lower case. If you write “i” instead of “I,” it gives your blog a MySpace feel — not what you are looking for when starting a professional presence online.)
- Avoid LOL and other acronyms. (That’s fine for text messages and Twitter, but not for blog posts.)
- Long paragraphs: Especially when writing for the web, it’s important to keep your paragraphs short. Long paragraphs are hard on the eye and make things much more challenging to read.
- Create new Posts, not new Pages, for your assignments. (And if you already have your assignments on Pages, simply copy the text from the page, and add a new Post. Then delete the pages you do not need.)
3 Things to Try Next Time
- Though this may come across as sarcastic, read the blogging guidelines for your class. I offer very specific directions for due dates, length of posts (for TOWs and comments), format of the Blog Comments post, required widgets, etc. You’ll also want to watch the video I created for your class in my Wimba Office Hours room, if you haven’t already done so.
- When you mention a website, provide a hyperlink to the site. And be sure to use words, not the URL, as the link that your readers see.
- Consider adding a complementary image to your posts. I tend to find the images I use at Flickr, using the CompFight service to find ones that are licensed for use through Creative Commons.
As always, if you have questions . . .
Wow, what a year 2010 has been. On top of moving from the Savannah area to central Florida, here’s what’s been going on:
- I taught ten, yes – 10, classes during Spring semester: six online for Georgia Southern University and four face-to-face at Southeastern University. That’s about 200 students in seven unique courses, virtually of them all blogging as part of their classes. And I survived to tell the tale.
- Our daughter was on a rec league team for Miss Lakeland Softball and was then chosen to be a member of an All-Star team. (For those of you who played ball — or parents of those who have — you know what a time commitment this is. At least four evenings a week were taken up with softball.) By the way, I kept the stats book for the softball team.
- And at the very end of Spring semester, I had the honor of helping my sisters care for my 80-year-old mom at her home in the Atlanta area during her final months. Mom passed away in her sleep at home on May 25. Her memorial service was last week.
Like I said, wow, what a year 2010 has been.
Life is now, as Chuckie Finster from Rugrats would say, “Back to Norman!”
Now to figure out what the “New Norman” is for us.
This summer, here’s what’s going on:
- I’m teaching three different courses online for Georgia Southern University. (And in the fall, I’ll drop down to part-time online with GSU, but I have been hired on an Assistant Professor of Communication at Southeastern University here in Lakeland.)
- I’m writing instructor materials (including syllabi, online quizzes, presentations, etc.) for a textbook, because of connections I made on LinkedIn & Twitter with the book authors.
- Because of a connection I made on Twitter with the PR director at Gateway International Raceway, I’ll get to ride in a pace car during a NASCAR Nationwide Series race in July. Expect lots of tweets and shared photos from that weekend. You didn’t know I’m a NASCAR fan? Then you must not follow me on Twitter, especially on race weekends.
- Lots of floral photography will happen at Lakeland’s Hollis Garden and Lake Wales’ Bok Tower Gardens. That is, if I can stand the heat and humidity!
- We’ll take the kiddos to Sea World & Busch Gardens; being Florida residents has some nice perks when it comes to season pass prices.
- And best of all, my husband and I celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary in July.
Stay tuned. When my family is involved, there’s always more to come.