Podcasts for the Young PR Pro

Photo Credit: Profound Whatever via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Profound Whatever via Compfight cc

Many people do not know what a podcast is but they can actually be beneficial to your professional development. A podcast is basically an internet radio show produced in a series. I listened to a few podcasts on Trafcom News such as “Five Tips for Podcasting Success” and “8 Podcasting Truths.” Both podcasts were produced by Donna Papacosta, the author of The Business of Podcasting. Below are my notes from what I learned from each podcast.

FIVE TIPS FOR PODCASTING SUCCESS

#1. Pick a Niche

You want to pick a specific topic for your podcast series for your desired audience. If you’re podcasts are all over the place you will confuse listeners and discourage people from tuning in.

#2. Get the Gear

Buy professional equipment to ensure the best quality podcast. Make sure you have an external mic and speak within six inches from the mic.

#3. Be Consistent

Be consistent with your topic, production values and efforts, content, and scheduling. Content and scheduling might be the most important. You want to make sure you are filling 15 minutes worth of content and not just rambling on about nothing. Scheduling is equally important because you want your audience to keep coming back and looking forward to new podcasts. You might want to get a co-host and have guest appearances. A new podcast every week is essential to successful podcasting.

#4. Prepare

Make sure you are prepared before you record a podcast. Sketch out what you will talk about. If you are interviewing someone make sure that you do research on your guest so you can prepare questions accordingly. It might not be the best thing to just go totally “off the cuff” unless that is how you are branding your podcasts.

#5. Have Fun

Have fun with your podcasts. Even if it is a professional podcast, you can have a good time while maintaining and enhancing your brand.

8 PODCASTING TRUTHS

#1. You Will Hate Your First Podcasts

The first couple times you hear yourself on a podcast you will cringe. As time goes on, you will get better and better. Hopefully, you will be able to upgrade your equipment and improve your podcast quality. You will also learn more techniques to running a smooth podcast.

#2. Your Audience Can Tell When You Are Reading

Voice acting is extremely important in podcasting. People do not want to hear you reading from a paper. You sound boring and you will not build an audience. Sketching out and scripting what you want to say is important but make sure you sound natural.

#3. Get the Tech Right

Learn how to use your equipment the right way. Get rid of the background noise, save the audio in an accessible file on your computer, and find the sweet spot on your mic.

#4. Passion Wins Over Tech

To a certain degree, passion wins over tech. Your audience will forgive you for the quality of your podcast if you are passionate about what you are saying. Granted, even your most faithful listeners will still be praying for you to upgrade your equipment.

#5. People Do Not Want to Dig for Your Podcast

Make your podcasts easy to find, access, listen to, and share because people will not waste time trying to find your podcast.

#6. Many People Do Not Know What Podcasting Is

It is a sad truth but just make sure that you share your podcasts with your friends, family, and on your social media sites. Most likely you will have to explain to your loved ones what a podcast is and what its purpose is.

#7. The Snake Oil Sellers

Ignore the snake oil sellers who only podcast about how to monetize your podcasts. You pay them to hear what they have to say about how to earn money from your podcasts and they are probably rich because of that. Do not trust them!

#8. Podcasts Can Build Communities

Do not overlook the power of podcasting when trying to build a community. Podcasting is a way to speak to your target audience and, in many ways, you can bring people together depending on what your podcasts are about.

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I have to be honest. I did not really know what podcasting was until my professor told me about them. I have actually listened to motivational podcasts when I was in this business organization but I did not know what it was called then. I just thought it was called audio recording – which that is basically correct. Young PR professionals and scholars can benefit from listening to PR podcasts in a multitude of ways. Because podcasts are niche-based, you can focus in on topics involving the PR world.

Podcasts are used as a guide and to acquire information. Podcasts can also be used as a part of a movement as it helps to build community among a target audience. Not to mention, podcasts also help one develop better listening skills. Know what I know now about podcasts, I have considered creating podcasts targeting African-Americans to help build community among us. I think that might be another topic a PR Chronicle.

For some great PR podcasts check out Trafcom News, For Immediate Release, Inside PR, The Creative Career, or Marketing Over Coffee.

PR Chronicles: #BlogChat

Photo Credit: oggin via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: oggin via Compfight cc

Last night, I participated in my first Twitter chat which was #blogchat. Mack Collier, the brand expert and author of Think Like A Rock Star, is the founder of #blogchat and I joined him and other professionals in a conversation about improving one’s blog. The topic was improving your blog’s layout to enhance readability.

I really did not know what to expect as I had never participated in a Twitter chat before. I did not know anyone I would be corresponding with so the first thing I did was introduce myself to everyone in the chat. I was surprisingly greeted by a complete stranger who said he enjoyed reading my blog post about my interview with Faith McKinney. That really got me pumped for the chat!

At first, I was trying to respond to people’s questions but there were so many tweets coming in that I felt like I could not keep up. I started asking other people questions. I received some responses and then I started tweeting about what I personally do to enhance readability on my blog.

I learned that I am not the only one who uses sub-headings to enhance readability on my blog – I found that many people use that as a tactic to keep readers coming back, as well. However, you do not want to use too many sub-headings because it can make it easy to skip over the content in your posts. I also learned that a simple theme is better for blog readability. You do not want too many distractions on your blog. I think about changing my blog theme all the time to something more fancy but now I am wondering if that is necessary.

It surprised me how many people were actually participating in the Twitter chat. I had to refresh the page every 15 seconds to keep up with the conversation. I could tell the people who were the “regulars” of the chat and I had trouble keeping up with them. Halfway through the Twitter chat I stopped tweeting so I could read what people were saying. I was also surprised at how many more followers I gained by just participating in the chat. I think I received about 8 new followers who were participating in the conversation.

I think I will be participating in #blogchat again because I want to learn more about how to improve my blog. More specifically, I want to learn how I can build community through blogging. I even offered that as topic for next week’s #blogchat conversation.

Join #blogchat every Sunday at 8pm CT.

#FAIL: When Hashtags Go Wrong

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Image taken from AdWeek.com

 

Social media has become vital in getting messages out to consumers. The most common way to make sure your message is heard by your target audiences is to use hashtags. Hashtags were first introduced to the social media world in 2007 to help label and group conversations or content about certain subjects. Although hashtags have become very important to today’s PR professionals, there are many ways that hashtags can go wrong —hence, #Fail.

#1. What’s Your Message?

Companies and organizations need to be careful when launching a social media campaign using a hashtag. They have to observe who their target audience is and then craft a message that is specific to that audience. If the hashtag may have a double meaning then the organization has to make a decision on whether or not they would be ok with that other meaning. For example, Subway’s #5DollarFootLong became a hashtag that trended after hours (if you know what I mean) and the sandwich shop was ok with that.

#2. Do You Know Your Target Audience?

In order to create a hashtag, not only do you have to choose a message but you have to know the audiences you are trying to reach. The wording of your hashtag matters and if it can be perceived as a message that targets girls in high school when it is supposed to target single mothers you may need to rephrase your hashtag before you promote it.

#3. Do You Know the Context of the Trending Hashtag?

Some companies and organizations decide to use trending topics on Twitter to advertise to customers without doing research on the meaning behind the hashtag. In September, DiGiorno Pizza became a victim of a #fail when they carelessly crafted a tweet including the hashtag #WhyIStayed.

When videos of Ray Rice knocking out his then-fiancée Janay Palmer surfaced, women took to Twitter to share their stories about domestic violence. The hashtag #WhyIStayed emerged in response to Palmer’s critics after she married Rice after he knocked her unconscious.

#WhyIStayed became a trending topic on Twitter and DiGiorno Pizza hopped on the bandwagon as they tweeted, “#WhyIStayed You had pizza.” DiGiorno clearly had not done its research behind the meaning of the hashtag and, within minutes, the tweet received enough backlash to force the pizza company to delete its tweet. DiGiorno apologized for its carelessness by tweeting, “A million apologies. Did not read what the hashtag was about before posting.” The esteemed pizza company went further as it attempted to respond and apologize to everyone who was offended by the #fail.

Hashtags are very helpful when it comes to promotion and I believe companies and organizations have been successful in using Twitter to promote their services but one always has to beware the dangers of the promoted tweet. If one tweet goes wrong then it could potentially ruin the reputation of an entire corporation. Some businesses have decided not to be on Twitter at all to avoid that risk but I believe that does more harm than good as social media promotion and advertising is at its peak.

Fresh Off the Press Release

Photo Credit: Johan Larsson via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Johan Larsson via Compfight cc

Knowing how to write an effective press release is a necessity in today’s age of public relations. While there are so many opportunities for free publicity through social media one must still write press releases to have a story run by a prominent media outlet. In my PR class, we are practicing how to write press releases so we can start writing real ones for the organizations we are semester project where we create a PR campaign for a local organization. In order for a press release to be of any use to journalists and reporters it must contain key elements.

IS IT NEWSWORTHY?

Before you start writing a press release for an event or organization, make sure that it is newsworthy. If something is newsworthy then it means is interesting enough to the general public to warrant reporting. In other words, simply ask yourself, “Why should anyone care?” When asking yourself if something is newsworthy, make sure you refer to the eight news values. News values are general guidelines that determine the prominence of a story. The seven news values include impact, timeliness, prominence, proximity, bizarreness, conflict, currency, and human interest. If your press release contains one or more of these news values then you are definitely on the right track.

NOW, FORGET EVERYTHING YOU LEARNED IN ENGLISH 101

The first time I wrote a press release for my media writing class I was shocked to find that I lost multiple points due to grammar and punctuation issues. That is because media writing requires a different style of writing, contrary to what you might have learned in your English classes. In order to make sure your press release is fit for media outlets, you must obtain The Associate Press Stylebook on Briefing and Media Law, commonly known as the AP Stylebook. The AP Stylebook is a style and usage guide that is used by journalists.

CREATE A HEADLINE THAT DEMANDS ATTENTION

Your headline is located at the top of your press release and should be in all caps. It should capture the most important pieces of your press release.

CONTENT OF YOUR PRESS RELEASE

You do not want a lengthy press release because journalists and reporters do not have time to read a 5-page essay about your organization. Your press release should consist of five solid “grafs” and include your contact information just in case they would like to contact you for more information. You do not want your press release to exceed three pages. In the body of your press release you should include quotes from the president or an executive of the organization to add some personality to your story. You can also include a customer or analyst’s quote to add a bit more newsworthiness. Do not forget to add any important dates and times of events or openings.

CREATE YOUR TARGET PRESS LIST AND DISTRIBUTE YOUR PRESS RELEASES

This is when your relationships with local journalists and reporters come into play. If you have relationships with people who are in the news industry then you can count on them to at least read your press release and hopefully get it broadcast. You should also send your press release out to virtual news outlets.

My Conversation with Faith McKinney

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Faith McKinney is a public relations professional who is the President and CEO of Faith McKinney International LLC. She did not get a degree in PR but organizations come to Faith for consultation to help them develop their personal brands. Throughout her professional career, Faith has conducted numerous media interviews with public figures such as Hollywood Director Lee Daniels, FUBU founder and fashion Guru J. Alexander Martin, Kirk Franklin, Hill Harper, and many more. She has also written a book called Schmingling – The Art of Being Well Connected Through Blatant Self Promotion which highlights her firsthand knowledge of self-promotion and PR strategies that gets one noticed and helps one garner expert status at the same time.

I found Faith through LinkedIn and asked her if I could connect with her to orchestrate an informational interview about her profession. I interviewed her via Skype and I ventured to obtain a PR professional’s experience with the field that I wish to enter. I asked Faith to give me some advice that would help any young person that would like to enter the PR industry and I would like to highlight her key points here.

BUILD YOUR CREDIBILITY AND BECOME KNOWN

Faith stressed the importance of building my credibility through social media. She advised me to take a lot pictures with people who are in the public’s eye. If I take pictures with notables that I meet at different events and post them of my sites and tag them I can expand my social media presence and get known. Faith carries 4 cameras with her wherever she goes, just in case. She said, “You cannot count on your phone to have the best quality images.” The cameras are convenient because you can take a quick snap and go. Going through your phones apps to get to your camera also takes some time. Following up with the notables I take pictures with is of great importance too. If they are in the spotlight of current news then Faith advised me to repost the picture that I took with them. Posting and reposting images of yourself with public figures is a great way to stay current and get you known.

BUILD STRONG RELATIONSHIPS

Another great way to build credibility is to build strong relationships with people. Faith said, “People do not care about what you know until they find out who cares about you.” In other words, it is not what you know or who you know, it is all about who knows you. She said that I should start building relationships with local reporters and journalists. A great way to get experience and build strong relationships is to shadow PR professionals. Faith advised me to get to know people in my area who are already in PR and learn about what they do and help them in any way I can. Building strong relationships with people in certain positions is important because they might just lead you to your next opportunity.

DO NOT BE AFRAID TO ASK

Faith said she has no regrets about the actions she has made even when she thinks she messed up but she does regret things that she did not ask. She recounted a time where she wanted to ask a celebrity to take a picture with her and she built the courage to ask him. Out of all of the times she has asked public figures to take pictures with her she has only been told no once. One needs to build enough confidence and courage in order to not let fear get in the way of one’s actions.

Another question that Faith told me that I should never be afraid to ask is, “What can I do to help you?” She said that I should always approach people with a helping hand and a humble heart. In order for me to get some “street cred” I should help and promote organizations in my area. That will be more experience and more things to add to my portfolio until I can start working for pay.

Faith helped me so much and I am glad I had a conversation with her.  It is so easy to use your social media to get connected with people who are in the profession you wish to enter. I gained valuable information from my conversation with Faith and it helped me to realize that PR is the gig for me.

*Faith’s Core Values: Relationships, Authenticity, and Communication.

Find Faith on LinkedIn:

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To Nike, or Not to Nike

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Photo Credit: Leo Hidalgo (@yompyz) via Compfight cc

Along with many young people in America, I am guilty of buying clothing and shoes for the brand rather than for its quality. One brand that seems to be ubiquitous in pop-culture is Nike, Inc. Nike is an American multinational cooperation that designs and manufactures clothing, sport equipment, footwear, and more. I personally love Nike shoes but the brand has exercised some blatantly unethical business practices despite Nike’s huge success.

According to Business Insider, Nike’s use of sweatshops to manufacture their products has cause public criticism since the 1990’s. A sweatshop is a factory that employs manual workers to make products for very low wages under poor conditions for long hours. Nike is guilty of having contracted with these factories in countries such as China, Vietnam, Indonesia and Mexico. In 1991, activist Jeff Ballinger brought some of the corporation’s questionable manufacturing activities to light.

For the most part, Nike has taken responsibility for sweatshop labor but did deflect some blame when Nike officials stated that “they are in the business of designing and selling shoes, not manufacturing them.” Although Nike does not run the sweatshops, they do control and determine terms of the contracts with workshop owners. Nike was also accused of using child labor in its factories.

Nike has managed to bounce back from the criticism and protests against it by addressing the key issues. In 1996, Nike established a department that specifically focuses and works on improving the lives of factory workers. In 1999, the corporation creates the Fair Labor Association, a non-profit organization that establishes independent monitoring and a code of conduct. Nike was hesitant to release its list of factories it contracts with and it Corporate Governance Report that discloses information about the conditions and pay in its factories. However, I think it was good that they did disclose this information.  I also read Nike’s code of conduct and I can tell that it is up to date and addresses its factory issues.

Although Nike has made many strides over the years to repair its image, there are still health and safety issues in its factories. Nike remains a successful business and people will continue to buy its products. I do believe Nike should be more hands on and involved when it comes to the manufacturing of its own products. As many companies are guilty of using sweatshops and child labor, I do not think that this business practice hurt Nike’s long-term existence but that does not mean that it is right.

The next time you go to the mall and you are picking out a pair of shoes, you will think of this article and you must ask yourself, “to Nike, or not to Nike?”

So You Think You Can Blog?

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Photo Credit: andyp uk via Compfight cc

Many people think that they can jump right into blogging about whatever they want and automatically create a following and receive sponsors. I was guilty of that way of thinking before I learned better. What I have come to know is that there are rules to blogging. Blogging is very important in the world of Public Relations and there is a certain code to abide by in order to be considered a “good blogger.” Anyone can become a good blogger if they are willing to follow these suggestions for better blogging.

#1 NAME THE THING

Every awesome blog post has to begin with an awesome blog title. People will assume that your blog is boring if your blog titles are bland. I could have easily named this blog entry “6 Tips for Better Blogging” but then I might as well have named it “This Is Boring. Do Not Read.” Once you learn the significance of an epic blog title you will soon be on the path to the Blog of Fame (if that is a real thing).

#2 WRITE FOR YOUR READERS

Make sure you are forming coherent thoughts if you are writing to an audience. It is one thing to write privately in a journal and it is another thing to write online for all to read. It may be easier to make your blog about one topic to appeal to a certain public so you can always connect your posts back to your reader. People will be discouraged to read anything you write if it does not somehow pertain to them.

#3 PROVIDE A LITTLE EYE CANDY

Most people want to see more than just words on a website. They want to see pictures, videos, gifs, and color. Whether your website has visuals or not is a determinant of your blog being either amazing or mediocre.

#4 CREATIVITY IS KEY

Make sure that there is creativity and thought put into your website from your theme to the content of each blog post. A good blog will make you laugh, cry, and marvel in its beauty.

#5 CLEAN IT UP

It is nice to create categories on your website to organize your entries for your readers. It is important to organize your blog posts by the topics in which they cover. You can also add a calendar to your blog so your readers can sort through your posts by date. Nothing says “I do not really care about you” to your readers more than an unorganized blog.

#6 BE A FRIENDLY BLOGGER

Interact with your followers and comment on their blogs. If you engage with others on their blogs then it may encourage them to comment on yours, which is important because you can get great feedback from your followers. Also, a good blog comment on another’s website may open up opportunities for your website to get more traffic, albeit one has to know how to write a good blog comment. Here are some tips for making efficient blog comments:

  1. READ BEFORE YOU WRITE

You might have heard the saying “Think about what you say before you say it.” Well, it is the same for blog comments. No one appreciates a blog comment that sounds as if the person did not even read the article.

  1. FRESH FEEDBACK

Make sure that you are giving feedback that is valuable to the blogger and be certain that your comment does not sound the same as all of the others.

  1. PUT SOME THOUGHT INTO IT

Not only is it nice to give a compliment to the blogger but it is important that you use your critical thinking skills to make a comment that is well thought out. After you give a little positive feedback, explain why the article was helpful. If your views are at opposition with what the article address then explain why you disagree. It is important to leave a comment that will ensure that you are remembered.