PR & Riding Goals: Ready for More than Walk, Trot, Canter

My Facebook “On this Day” feature this week reminded me recently that it’s been exactly one year since I decided it was finally time to make time to start riding horses again.

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It’s been a fantastic year, moving from relearning the basics of the walk, trot and canter to learning to jump for the first time.

Recently my trainer asked me, “What are your goals for riding?” It’s an important question. I could do what I’m doing for an hour a week for the rest of my life and be happy. There are an infinite number of tweaks and adjustments you can make to get better at the basics.

Organizations have to think about this same question related to their public relations efforts. Doing the same thing that’s always worked and getting decent results is easy. Send regular press releases, post on social media several times a week, host that event that everyone loves… walk, trot, canter.

As soon as my trainer asked me that question, though, I knew that wasn’t my answer. I also knew that saying, “I want to compete,” meant more work.

It means more lessons, harder workouts and more time and money investment. It means trying new things (and probably failing a bit). It means being uncomfortable. It doesn’t mean leaving the basics behind, but building on them to accomplish your goal.

What else does it mean? I’m not sure! But we’ve set a goal and my trainer will help me work toward it.

This is very much like the role a PR pro serves — identifying a goal and creating a plan to reach it. That plan can include new audiences, new strategies and untested tactics that feel uncomfortable at first.

But when approached strategically, you can find yourself (and your organization) in the ribbons.

 

A Year-Long Plan for Senior PR Undergrads

[Updated September 2014]

 “When should I start applying for that internship?”

“Where do I start with my job search?”

“Do I need to be sending my resumes out now?”

There’s a point of recognition where the senior public relations major realizes that yes, barring any major gaffes, chances are good that they’re going to graduate and need to find a job. And then the panic sets in.

Senior year both flies by in a blink and seems to drag on forever at the same time.  Benchmarking a few key activities may help you create your own plan for prepping for graduation.

A quick note: University of Oregon is on the quarter system – we start the last Monday of September and finish mid-June, so this calendar may vary based on your University.

Continue reading “A Year-Long Plan for Senior PR Undergrads”

How did that tweet get there? It’s not magic and unicorns.

As an intern or young professional, you may assume that because you know how to use Twitter that you are ready to step into doing so on behalf of an organization. However, strategic social media is a lot more complicated than personal social media and there’s no magic social media unicorn… 

This side of social is not necessarily intuitive and the learning the process is an important part of doing a good job for clients. We’re ramping up some social media work for a client right now and that has me thinking about the process I use and how to convey that to my team.

Continue reading “How did that tweet get there? It’s not magic and unicorns.”

Setting New (School) Year Resolutions

January, schmanuary. The real “new” year for those of us who are students and teachers is September. So as we all gear up to head back to the classroom, it’s time to set some new (school) year resolutions.

SWOT Yourself

Take an objective view – well, as objective as possible – about your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

Strengths and weaknesses are internal.

Strengths: What are you good at? What kinds of activities are a natural fit for you?

Weaknesses: What areas are more difficult for you to master? I’m not going to say “what can you improve on?” because that’s not always an effective use of your time. But are there specific skills that you need to add to your repertoire? Particularly tactics or skills that you want to learn?

I highly recommend a book called StrengthFinder 2.0. Take a little online quiz and get back your top 5 strengths. We did this last year with AHPR and it was eye-opening. You can read about it here.

Opportunities and threats are external.

Opportunities: What activities, events, programs can you take advantage of? Where can you gain the experience you need?

Threats: Where are the potentials for time sucks? What external factors can diminish your ability to achieve your goals?

Threats are tricky when you’re looking at yourself as a students. It might be a heavy class schedule, for example. You can’t really do anything about that, but you can be aware it’s coming and plan accordingly.

Thanks, @CBLangev for this suggestion.

Make a Plan

 


Now that you understand what your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats are, make a plan for making the most of the good and minimizing the impact of the not-so-good.

Some tips:

  • Start with the end in mind. What do you want to accomplish? And what does that “end” look like?
  • Be realistic, but ambitious. You can’t do everything. You have to make strategic decisions about where your time will be best spent. Where is the best return on your time investment.
  • Have a good planner. Whether you need a written planner or an electronic version, make friends with your process and use it to stay organized. About.com has some nice (basic) tips for collge student calendar management.
  • Find tech tools that support your goals, and focus on those tools.  I’m a little bit notorious for giving a new tool or app a try, but not spending enough time with it to really integrate it into my schedule before I get distracted by the next shiny, new thing. Don’t do that.

Find Balance

You have to be able to balance school/academic work, extracurriculars, internships, volunteer opportunities and your social life (more on that in the next point). In a professional program like public relations, you really do have to look and think beyond the classroom – even in your in the honors college… even if you know you’re headed to grad school.

The challenge of course, is figuring out how to fit it all in. Refer to the aforementioned planner/calendar system. Find your process! It is possible to create balance when you know what your goal is and how you plan to get there. (Oh, look at that! All these fit together…!)

Thanks, @ColbyReade for this resolution.

Have Fun

You’re in college. Have fun! Find time to make what you do fun and to have a social life outside of the books and the work. I went through a goal setting process for myself recently and found that I was conflating “have fun” with “have a hobby.” I don’t have time for a serious hobby, but I do have time for fun.

And I have fun all the time. I think life is fun! And I find the fun in work, family time, vegging out in front of the TV… all those can be (and usually are) fun. So it doesn’t have to be BIG fun. But make sure you’re including time for you.

So there’s my list. They are all “big picture.” Tell me about what you have planned this year. What are your new (school) year resolutions?

Special thanks to my Twitter & Facebook friends for offering their suggestions! 

Take a Deep Breath. Time to Renew & Recharge.

three people breathing relaxing fresh air

In late September when classes get underway at the University of Oregon, the academic year is full of promise. The possibilities of each course, and each student, seems limitless. I’m organized, focused and excited to try to new things, share new ideas and train the best PR PRos in the business. By the middle of June, I feel like I’ve been hit by a bus. A 9-month-long bus.

Rather than bounding into each week’s classes, what I feel is closer to “clawing.” I don’t love my students any less (well, most of them…), but the weight of the entire year can feel pretty heavy by week 10 of Spring Term.

In academia, the breaks are clear. In June, I am gazing lovingly into the beautiful stream of four months of summer break. Glorious, glorious summer break. But whether you’re in academia or the “real world,” I’ve learned it’s important to take time to renew and recharge. It’s important to take time to breathe, reflect and look forward.

Some tips of my own and a few mixed in with some from the experts at stuff like this:

  • Take some time to brain dump. For me this means writing. Just writing and writing and writing. Get it all out of your noggin and onto paper. I write notes about what I want to change in my routine, what I learned about the classes that I taught, etc.
  • Exercise. Run, do Pilates or try Yoga. I’m a Pilates fan. It’s amazing for helping to clear my mind and put my spine back on straight.
  • Envision the next year. For me, the year is September – June… maybe you’re on a calendar year. Regardless, take some time to plan your year, envision what you want to accomplish. I found this great post about giving yourself an annual review. I think I might try this sometime this summer. I’m also creating a “vision board” (with a little nudge from my biz coach). Have no fear, you’ll hear all about that process, too.
  • Find your own way. You’ll find plenty of ways to organize mental clutter. This post has tons of tips for getting your noggin organized.

How do you best use a transition to prepare for the next “thing” in your life?

photo by LunaDiRimmel

How to Write a Basic Media Relations Strategy

The ability to work with the media is our “value added” in public relations (and one of the key reasons PR is in the journalism school at the UofO)… So when you want to add a media relations strategy to a client plan or proposal, how do you do it?

“Get [my organization] on morning talk shows” is not a media relations strategy.

First, think about your target audience. You need to have a solid understanding of who your target audience is. Have you painted a picture that makes it clear what media they use and respond to. If not, do more research.

Once you’re comfortable with your understanding on the audience, you’re ready to move forward with recommended strategy. Your strategy needs to include your key messages and the tone of the media materials that you will create.

For example, say you’re working with a local humane society on recruiting more adopters and your target audience is senior citizens. Your objective might be: To raise awareness of [the humane society] among senior citizens so to encourage more adoptions.

You’ve determined through your research that your target audience reads the local newspaper daily. Your strategy might read something like this:

To accomplish this objective, we recommend a media relations strategy that focuses on the health benefits of owning an animal. According to APPMA.org, health benefits include lower blood pressure, longer life and lower stress levels. The Humane Society should identify key spokespeople from this target audience to dispel possible myths about behavior or social problems of shelter animals and discuss the benefits of adopting from the Humane Society.

The specific tactics would follow-on in a priority list and would include the steps to take to execute the strategy and meet the objective.

What else goes into a media relations strategy? Check out these articles:
Ten Steps for Successful Media Relations (on aboutpublicrelations.net)
Website Pressroom – A Key Promotional Tool

Other tips? What key elements must be considered for an effective media relations campaign?

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