When you blog, you become a part of a community. And as a member of a community, you’re responsible for encouraging conversation. Commenting on others’ blogs is a great way to further conversations.

In addition to writing your own blog posts, you will also comment on others’ blogs; these comments will count as 25% of your grade on your blog. Aim to comment on two blog posts each week; you will need 25 comments before the end of fall semester.

Aim to include a variety of blogs that you comment on, ranging from your classmates’ blogs to those of PR professionals. (For a great way to find new and interesting PR blog posts to comment on, subscribe to Ragan’s PR Daily. Or, visit my social bookmarks for PR blogs.)

To track your comments so that I can easily find them, create (and keep adding to) one blog post that you will title “Blog Comments,” and where you will include:

  • Comment # (keep a running list)
  • Title of blog post you commented on, followed by the author’s name
  • Hyperlink to the blog post
  • Date of your comment
  • Your complete comment (copy and paste)

See Lisa McLaughlin’s blog and Marie Walker Ervin’s blog for some great examples of how to track your comments.

NOTE 1: In order for the comment to “count” as part of your grade for this course, it needs to be at least 100 words long. You are welcome (and even encouraged) to write comments of varying lengths, but for class credit, 100 words is the shortest I’ll accept.

NOTE 2: Do not post each of your blog comments as separate blog entries; make ONE page and keep editing/adding to it.

And whatever you do, make sure your blog comments aren’t whack.

 
there is nothing wrong in this whole wide apartment by tizzie.

"there is nothing wrong in this whole wide apartment" by tizzie

If you’re looking to get a jumpstart on my classes at this fall, here are the books that I will be using. I’ve linked to many of them at Amazon.com, but of course you can purchase them from anywhere you like. I recommend you try the Facebook Marketplace first, so you can get a good deal AND help a fellow student.

For all my classes

Public Relations Applications (COMM 2322)

Public Relations Writing (PRCA 3330 & COMM 4333)

Introduction to Journalism (COMM 3333)

Corporate Public Relations (COMM 4363)

  • No textbook needed

Questions? As always,

(PS: Syllabi for my classes will be posted in early August.)


 

One day in February, not long after my husband Kevin and I went to the Pothole Daytona 500, I tweeted that one of the things on my bucket list was to ride in a pace car during a NASCAR race.

I wrote it not thinking I’d get much of a response other than maybe a “me, too” from another NASCAR fan. But was I ever surprised when Brandon Mudd, the Public Relations and Media Manager for Gateway Raceway, replied to me a few minutes later.

My first reaction was, “Yeah, right.” Then after a few Twitter, LinkedIn and e-mail interchanges, I realized that this was actually going to happen. All I had to do was get myself (and my hubby) to St. Louis the weekend of July 16 & 17.

Gateway Raceway provided my husband Kevin and me with Hot Pit / Garage / Media Center passes, along with passes to Victory Circle, and even Infield Parking. If you’re not a NASCAR fan this is what it means:

  • Hot Pit Passes: We were able to stay in the pit area (where the car & truck teams are during the race) before and through the entire race, meeting as many drivers and teams as we wanted to. We just had to be sure to stay out of their way when they were working.
  • Garage: We could see what the teams were doing to get the cars & trucks set up for the races.
  • Media Center: We had a place to cool off and relax a bit. The temps were into the 100s, and it was 135 for a while on pit road.
  • Victory Circle: Before and after the races, we stood in the Victory Circle area. I was able to get a lot of great pictures of drivers chatting with each other before the driver intros, and I was right there as Kevin Harvick drove up his winning truck for the CampingWorld.com 200 race. We even got to see the infamous Hat Dance.
  • Infield Parking: This made it easy for us to go back to our car as needed to cool off and get refreshments. For a while, we even turned the car around so it was facing the track, and watched parts both races from the air-conditioned comfort of our cars.

On Friday afternoon, we arrived at the track and milled around in the pits and garage area for a few hours before the scheduled start of the CampingWorld.com 200 NASCAR Truck race. As it came time for the pre-race festivities to start, I noticed some pulled-aside conversations going on in Victory Circle. The power had just gone out (momentarily, we thought). It was still daylight, and the loudspeakers worked via generator, so most of the pre-race could happen planned, while we waited for the power to kick back on.

They did the driver intros, which was fun to watch from behind the scenes as the drivers chatted with and teased each other as they waited their turn to be introduced in qualifying order.

Then it was time for the National Anthem. Lincoln Brewster, lead singer and guitarist for a Christian band, prepared to play the song. But there was no power for his electric guitar. He was urged to just sing it a capella, like it’s usually done . . . but he admitted he didn’t know all the words! Yikes. So then it was time to watch Brandon and his team scramble around to find someone who — with no notice or practice — could and would sing the National Anthem before a NASCAR race, on national television. (I would have volunteered, but I think my hubby of almost 25 years would have walked out on me if I did. And if you heard my singing voice, you’d have turned the channel quickly, too!)

All of a sudden, NASCAR’s Jimmy Small volunteered to sing it. Whew! Crisis avoided. Jimmy approached the stage . . . then the power came back on enough for Lincoln Brewster to go ahead with his Jimi Hendrix-inspired rendition of the National Anthem.

And the power stayed off. As it turns out, there was a major power problem offsite. Brandon wrote and distributed a news release from the Media Center with the details. I just happened to peek through the window as he was writing.

From Our NASCAR Weekend at Gateway Raceway

The truck race was delayed until Saturday at 12:30 . . . which meant that the nice, coolish evening race we had planned for was now going to be a part of a LONG double-header day of racing on Saturday.

We went back to the hotel to cool down, then headed back to the track on Saturday morning after a fantastic breakfast of the best corned beef hash I’ve ever had at Crepes, Etc. We made a quick stop for supplies, including some Baskin and Robins hard candy for Tati Papis, who had recently lamented on Twitter that the ice cream lady at the track was nowhere to be found.

Our first stop when we got back to the track was at Max Papis‘ hauler. I think I surprised Max when I introduced myself to him (trying not to sound like a fangirl!), but then asked for him to see if his wife Tati would come out. I gave the ice cream candies to a laughing Tati. Then Tati, Max and his crew chief Bootie Barker posed for a photo with me. Nice folks, all of them!

From Our NASCAR Weekend at Gateway Raceway

Here’s some video I took with my Flip camera of the CampingWorld.com 200 race (before, during and after), including the Hat Dance by race winner Kevin Harvick and his team. This short video includes the command “Drivers start your engines,” trucks rolling off pit road, racing to green, a few pit stops, then the post-race in Victory Circle.

For the next few hours, we milled around in the pits, the garage and the media center. I took about 250 pictures that day. You can see the best of them in my Picasa web album.

Finally it was time for what I (thought I) had come to the track for: my ride in a pace car during a race, the Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers 250 to be exact. The National Anthem was sung without a hitch, then Brandon walked me down pit road for my ride in the car. I took video with my Flip camera (from the back seat) throughout the two laps I had on the track.

The Bottom Line: I was able to cross one item off my Bucket List. The ride was fun, and I came away with even more. Throughout the weekend at Gateway Raceway, I was constantly amazed by how approachable the drivers are and how much access the fans have to them. What other sport lets you up so close, not just before a game, but during?

Many, many thanks to Brandon Mudd for responding to my tweet that I thought would go unanswered.

From Our NASCAR Weekend at Gateway Raceway

(PS: A Confession :: We didn’t stay until the end of the Nationwide race to see Carl Edwards win. We were exhausted and drained from the 100+ temps, even though we’re Floridians now and drank more than a gallon water each during the day. We listened to the race on MRN radio in the car on the way back to our hotel, then watched the final 50 or so laps from our air-conditioned room with our feet up — and lots of great memories of the day.)

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Our Scorching Hot Weekend at Gateway Raceway in Pictures

On July 19, 2010, in photos, by Barbara Nixon

Thanks to Gateway International Raceway‘s Director of Public and Media Relations Brandon Mudd, my husband Kevin and I were able to spend a great behind-the-scenes weekend at the track for two NASCAR races. The temps were well above 100 degrees and a power outage (outside the track) delayed the truck race to the next day, and we didn’t mind at all. It still amazes me how much access NASCAR allows the fans to have with the drivers, their crews and cars/trucks before and during races. I can’t imagine this happening in another sport.

Here are a few of the 200+ pictures I took before and during the Camping World Truck Series and Nationwide Races. I’ll post the video of my pace car ride (as the field went to green in the Nationwide race) later today.

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11 by Leo Reynolds.

"11" by by Leo Reynolds

In my Introduction to Public Relations and Public Relations Writing classes at Georgia Southern this summer, a large portion of the students’ grades came from their blogs. Most of the students in this class had never even read a blog before the beginning of the summer, no less written one of their own. For their final Topic of the Week, I asked them to create a list of tips for PR students new to blogging. Here, I will share some of the best tips:

Alecia Norman

The first thing to remember about blogging is to have patience. At first you will not have many visitors to you page accept you teacher and maybe a few classmates but if you continue on, the readers will come.

Jaclyn Simmons

Don’t Treat the Blog like Homework! I know since this is all for a class, some people dread working on these assignements. Take in consideration that the teacher is not doing it to torture you. This is part of your career!

Amy Green

Make sure to proofread often. I am not an avid blogger but when I would go to a person’s blog and see that every other word was misspelled or their grammar was poor I moved onto someone else’s blog.  One advantage of using Word press is that it offers a proofreading section to make sure you do not have a ton of misspelled words on your blog. 

Kevin Williams

Media. Despite my taste for traditional writing and structure in blogs I can tell you first hand that adding media such as images, videos, and other interactive applications is a great way to keep your blog fun and entertaining. Now this is subject to change depending on your target audience and the purpose of your blog. In general it is a great idea to give some visual content to your writing in any blog.

Casey Corley

Post your blog on other websites you are part of such as Twitter and Facebook. By doing this you will have more followers and interaction with your blog.

Amber Laurin

Try to find videos and pictures that complement your post. Blog posts that are full of text can look bulky.  Use pictures to break up long paragraphs or add a YouTube video that relates to your topic to add variety.

Ryan Keesee

Be organized. Take note of the tips [Prof.] Nixon provides over adding widgets and hyperlinks, as well as her tips on keeping your blog looking clean.

Tabatha Amerson

Be creative with your headline. Your blog may be very good and interesting, however if the headline is boring then the viewer may not read past the headline.

Ashley Rich

Link. When blogging, it is important to let your readers know what the source of your information is, if you have one. Be sure to link certain parts of your post in order to guide readers in the direction of more information on what the post is about. This also gives credit where credit is due in order to avoid plagiarism.

Kison Turner

Whenever you are given leverage to choose your own topic [like for your PR Connections], try to relate PR with something you are passionate about.  If you have a strong opinion about a topic, you should have less trouble overcoming potential writer’s block.

Lastly, have fun! It may seem like a task at first, but there is a thrill in having people show interest in your thoughts.  This experience helped me acquire clarity about several issues I once believed myself to be educated on.  That’s it, remember to enjoy.

So that’s what my summer PR students had to say. What other recommendations do you have for PR students starting off with a new blog?

 

Bok Tower Gardens Photo Safari

On July 14, 2010, in photos, by Barbara Nixon

Today, my sister, my daughter and I went to Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales, FL, on a photo safari. Here are a few of the photos we took while we were there. The butterflies were a tad skittish, so they didn’t want to pose for too long.

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Twitter bird paper-toy by Nerea Marta.

"Twitter bird paper-toy" by Nerea Marta

[Updated from my original post written in December 2008 :: Additions are in italics]

When I first started using Twitter about a year ago in 2007, I would follow anyone who first followed me. As Twitter has grown, I have realized that I need to be more discerning so that I don’t get overwhelmed. Here’s a brief description of my thought process.

I tend to automatically follow:

  • people I’ve met in real life (if I liked them when I met them)
  • students of mine at Georgia Southern University & Southeastern University
  • PR students & faculty from other universities
  • people who live in the Savannah or Statesboro (GA) Lakeland/Tampa/Orlando areas
  • people who engage me in positive ways with @barbaranixon tweets

Occasionally, I’ll revisit the people I’m currently following and make a determination if I still want to invest time in following them. Today I looked back at the last two days of tweets in my time line. And then I made a purge of about 250 people that I was following. I honestly have no idea why I was following some in the first place. Some were laced with foul language, while others just plain brought me down with their negative tone. Others tweeted about things that I’m no longer interested in.

If your tweets don’t make me learn or laugh, then quite often I don’t keep following. It’s as simple as that. However, I may add you to a Twitter list and look at the list on occasion. Or I may engage with you when I follow a hashtag like #TopChef (as we live-tweet the Bravo TV show) or #NASCAR (during races).

About once a month, I’ll visit my Followers page and hover my mouse over a name. If there’s no real name or any bio at all, I usually don’t look further. I’ll read a bio if it’s there. If in your bio you’re promising me things that I’d hear in a late-night infomercial, it’s unlikely I’ll follow you. Things in a bio that may intrigue me include:

  • public relations or social media
  • student affairs / higher education
  • photography
  • Auburn University
  • Presbyterian
  • NASCAR
  • autism or Asperger’s syndrome
  • food/cooking

Though it’s not hypercritical, I prefer engaging in conversations on Twitter with people who use their real photos. It’s nice to have a name and a face together.

If I make it as far as looking at your most recent tweets:

  • Is there a mix of original comments, @replies,  retweets and links? (If all the tweets are of one type, I usually don’t follow.)
  • Do I see @replies to people I know?
  • Do I think I’ll learn something from you?
  • Are many of your tweets of a positive nature (not whiny)?
  • Do you avoid foul language (most of the time)?
  • Do you make me laugh?

If I haven’t followed you, and you would like me to, it’s generally a good idea to send me an @barbaranixon so that I know you’re interested in engaging in conversation with me. And if it seems like I’ve been talking in a foreign language here, take a look at A Twitter Lexicon.

So, what’s your strategy? How do you decide whom to follow?

barbara_is_listening

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We are in the homestretch of Summer 2010, believe it or not. I will start evaluating/grading your blogs as soon as you submit your blog URL to the Assignments area in GeorgiaVIEW; the earlier you let me know you are done with your blog, the earlier I can start evaluating it. See GeorgiaVIEW for the specific due date and time.

Please complete this checklist to be sure your blog is complete. NOTE: You will need to scroll down in the form to complete all areas and find the Submit button.

 

My Super Mario Mushroom Featured at TBO.com

On July 7, 2010, in photos, by Barbara Nixon

While I was on my morning walk today in Lakeland, I noticed that mushrooms were cropping in yards all over our neighborhood. Some yards had dozens, while others had just a few. And one of them reminded me of the mushrooms from Super Mario Brothers as it was releasing a star.

Then I saw a tweet forwarded by Lizz Harmon linking to a Tampa Bay Online article on the proliferation of mushrooms after these last few rainy days. So I snapped a few pictures of mushrooms and sent one to Chris Taylor, editor of TBO.com. A few hours later, Chris let me know he featured the photo on the home page of TBO! Here’s a screen capture.

And if you’re wondering, this photo was taken with my Palm Pre. Not a bad photo for a cell phone pic!

Thanks, Chris, for featuring the photo.

 
Firefox cupcake by M i x y.

"Firefox Cupcake" by M_i_x_y

Thanks to Ragan’s PR Daily, I learned about Danny Brown’s post from last weekend titled “52 Cool Facts About Social Media.” Here are a few of the facts that I found most interesting. I encourage to visit Danny’s blog and read the remainder of the list he created.

Facebook

“2. More than 25 billion pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photo albums, etc.) is shared each month.”

“9. People spend over 500 billion minutes per month on Facebook.”

Twitter

“11. Twitter’s web platform only accounts for a quarter of its users – 75% use third-party apps.”

“12. Twitter gets more than 300,000 new users every day.”

LinkedIn

“21. LinkedIn is the oldest of the four sites in this post, having been created on May 5 2003.”

“26. 80% of companies use LinkedIn as a recruitment tool.”

YouTube

“34. Every minute, 24 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube.”

“40. YouTube uses the same amount of bandwidth as the entire Internet used in 2000.”

Blogging

“43. 60% of bloggers are between the ages 18-44.”

“44. One in five bloggers update their blogs daily.”

So, did any of these facts surprise you (either from the stats I excerpted, or the ones at Danny’s blog)? If so, which ones?

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