Students in my Corporate Public Relations class at Southeastern University shared the top ten things they learned during the semester. I’ve summarized the highlights of their lists here, in alphabetical order by author. Some discussed the class in general, while others took a more focused approach on presentation skills.
- “Learn from the world around you – One of the greatest classes often is not in a classroom. Everyday in class we talked about different things that were happening in the world and how it relates to our field of interest. I think by scanning the days news headlines you can really learn from what people are doing in real life situations.”
- “Opportunities Are Everywhere: Connections can be made everywhere you go so it is always important that you be prepared to be professional. Tweets may even connect with a PR practitioners in Sprint who can let you conduct a project with a Sprint phone.”
- “Actions that could effectively prevent any harm to a company‘s reputation on Day 1 may be completely ineffective on Days 2, 5, or 10.”
- “Crisis Management – The Ford Fiesta [project] really pushed us to use our “Crisis management” skills. I learned it is always important to have a back up plan and to be prepared for ANYTHING.”
- “It is great to use PowerPoint to create a visual that your audience can relate to, or take notes from, but be careful! Make sure the PowerPoint doesn’t do your presentation for you. For the presentation simply put key words up that you can expound upon. If you put everything that you are going to say up on the PowerPoint, then you might as well let someone else stand up there and do your presentation for you.”
- “Prepare. Prepare. Prepare. Preparation is something I always have known the importance of, but it seems that it is such a vital aspect in Corporate PR. If you are not on your toes and prepared for anything, then you are only making it harder on yourself and your company.”
- “Planning a campaign is difficult. We were given the task to put together a mini-campaign and there is a lot more that goes into it than what I originally expected. There is so much more that goes into researching a company and promoting a company. Sometimes you have to do it even if you don’t use the product or care for what they are doing, you still need to do your job to the best of your ability.”
- “Be engaged. Connect with your audience. Draw them in. Ask them questions or talk to them as if it were one on one. People appreciate it if you connect with them. It makes them feel special and appreciated, and we do appreciate them because they are our audience.”
- “You Never Stop Learning After College. Professor Nixon continuously tells us that as PR practitioners we have to keep up-to-date on what is going on in the world of PR and in general. A great way in keeping up-to-date is reading the news, listening to podcasts, reading blogs, and reading books about your related field.”
- “What You Post Online Will Be There Forever. I have been taught this my whole life, but it was not until Professor Nixon’s class that I fully understand. She showed us a website where you could look-up anything that has been posted online, even if it has been deleted. Made me take more precaution when I am posting things on the Internet.”
I started this morning just like I start most mornings, with a cup of chicory coffee and a review on my Samsung Epic of what’s been written on Twitter overnight. Things looked pretty calm and innocent until I saw this tweet from CNN Breaking News:
My first reaction to the tweet was: “How horrible for the girl!” Then I reread the tweet. My feelings for the plight of the girl intensified when I noticed that the CNN Breaking News Twitter account had used the hashtags #dead and #raped. My stomach actually turned.
Within seconds of me reading the tweet, I responded with this:
It just seemed best to contact CNN Breaking News directly with my displeasure, rather than complaining about it without “talking” directly to them; I have yet to receive a response, but I wasn’t really expecting one via that account. I also DM’d (direct messaged) a CNN producer to let him know about the firestorm of complaints about the inappropriate hashtags.
Let me back up a little.
- If you’re new to Twitter, a hashtag (what we used to call a pound sign) is often used in front of a keyword in a tweet. It helps people to search for tweets with that keyword in them.
- For example, when I am watching a NASCAR race, I will set up a search in TweetDeck to find all tweets with the keyword #NASCAR in them. This allows me to see tweets from people who are interested in the same topic as I am — without having to follow them. When the NASCAR race is over, I simply close the column in TweetDeck, and I no longer see #NASCAR tweets, except from those whom I am already following.
Let’s get back to the tweet I saw this morning from CNN Breaking News. I have several issues with the way this tweet was written, and they all revolve around the use of the hashtags. If I saw the tweet without any hashtags, I would have likely clicked on the link to read the story and not had the gut-wrenching reaction I did.
- Why would CNN want people to search for the terms #dead or #raped? I could understand it if it was a different tweet with #CyberMonday or #WikiLeaks hashtagged. But “dead” and “raped”? Who actually searches for those terms in Twitter? And why would CNN want to be associated with this? As I mentioned in my tweet to them, it seemed insensitive.
- Was CNN trying to create a trending topic? If so, those words are not ones I’d ever want to see trend. Ever.
- And as for “#N.C.” — when hashtagging in Twitter, you have to use one word or phrase, with no punctuation, or the hashtag doesn’t work as planned. The link will only “catch” the letters/numbers that are right after the hashtag. If there’s a period, the link stops. So if someone clicks on #N.C., the search will return tweets where people have hastagged the letter N alone. Not very useful, no?
So what’s the lesson to be learned from this morning’s tweet from @CNNbrk?
Think carefully about what words you hashtag in a tweet. Will clicking on the keyword be beneficial for your readers? If not, then you can still use the words (if they are necessary to get your message across), but avoid the hashtag.
What are your thoughts about the @CNNbrk #hashtagfiasco?