Feel Good PR Tips for the Holiday Season

April Neill Public Relations

BoostPRHolidayImageThis holiday season, if you’re looking for new ways to boost your brand exposure, drive sales, and garner media attention while also fostering a sense of goodwill, try mixing up your marketing strategy with feel good PR initiatives.

Below are some quick tips for boosting your PR during the holidays.

Campaign for a Cause

Increasing numbers of brands are mixing social good into their marketing and PR programs. Not only is it smart; it can reap big rewards as well!

Studies show that consumers are more prone to make purchases and seek out services from businesses and brands that give back and do good for the world. As a matter of fact, in a recent survey, 87 percent of consumers said they would switch brands based on a connection with a good cause.

As with any marketing initiative, holiday PR requires a clear, compelling message. It’s also important to target the…

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I Am Taking My Knowlege With Me

Ending this semester, I am pleased to say that I have completed yet another year of required courses at Grand Valley State University. I can feel myself getting closer to the day when I can finally put all of my hard work to use. First, I must graduate, and before I graduate I am determined to receive an internship that I am able to enter under the experience column, when the time comes to update the ‘ol resume. Now, with this internship I hope to apply all that I have learned in CAP 220 Fundamentals to PR. I can apply my knowledge to all that I have learned with coordinating a social media website, or even get involved in Crisis Management with a top PR firm. As of now, I cannot tell you where life as a PR/Ad major will take me, but I do know what I can apply this knowledge to get a good start.

I will say one thing that I never want the reader of this blog to forget, “If you want something done, do it yourself”. Through college I have learned that you and only you are determined to make a life for yourself. Going to college was the first step in making a life for myself and through college I have learned that nothing ever comes easy when you’re not willing to put in the equal effort. It is at college where I have both found and lost myself. Losing yourself I will say is never and will never be a bad thing, because when you do find yourself once again it is that much more exciting to see how far your limits can go and how far you can obtain what you’re determined to achieve. I lost myself at college, and when I found myself again I was neck deep in what is known as college credits. I took a chance by declaring my major, Advertising and Public Relations. It sounded interesting and so I took a leap forward, and in the process I landed in Fundamentals of PR. In all honesty, in the process of taking this course I was not so sure that I wanted to pursue this major because of the fact that it was much work and time. I told myself that the only way I was going to get anywhere in life, is with hard work. I returned to reality and told myself that I was going to do it; I was going to work hard and graduate with a hard earned degree in Advertising and Public Relations.

When I graduate I will remember this class not because of all of the time and stress it put me through but because of all of the information I obtained from it. Anyone can obtain information from a book but I learned much more than that. I learned the difference from Advertising and Public Relations, I learned real life hands on experience with a client, I learned how to further my research abilities, I learned that writing comes from within and not always from a source (although using sources increase your credibility, there is a time to use them). I learned that PR is much more than a favorable public image by a company or other organization. Public relations is creating relationships with the people you know and networking to build relationships with the people you don’t! So, present, I am taking my knowledge with me. I am taking my knowledge with me to the future where someday I can apply it to career as a professional in the PR/ Ad world.

The Past and Present

To be completely honest, my view on public relations was unclear at the start of the semester. In January I had created a blog and had stated that my idea of public relations “is how one interacts with consumers while obtaining exposure for your company or product”. So, has my view changed? Not as much as I thought. I had a vague understanding of what public relations was at the start of the course and it reflects my very vague definition that I have given. Now, that this vague definition has been filled in with the pieces I was once missing, my understanding of what public relations is can be put together to create an even bigger picture. My understanding of what I thought public relations was, was never a wrong answer, it was just missing important aspects of what public relations is all about.

According to the Public Relations Society of America public relations is defined as a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”

I was not far off from this definition, but I do admit that I was unaware of what an actual public relations firm was responsible for, and how it differed from advertising. According to Forbes magazine, Robert Wynne wrote “pr agencies, as opposed to advertising agencies, promote companies or individuals via editorial coverage. This is known as “earned” or “free” media — stories appearing on websites, newspapers, magazines and TV programs — as compared to “paid media” or advertisements. Also, the Public Relations Society of America states that public relations agencies are responsible for anticipating, analyzing and interpreting public opinion, attitudes and issues that might impact, for good or ill, the operations and plans of the organization.

In regards to Wynnes article, it had also been brought to my attention how important social media was to the public relations world. Olan Ahem writes “social media ensures that a brands message keeps moving, creating brand exposure and grabs the attention of key influencers in its sphere.” I have come to learn that companies around the world are now using Facebook, Twitter and many other ways to get their brand known around the globe.

So, now that my understanding of public relations is not so vague, I can truly understand the world of PR and what is stands for in the world today. Also I have come to learn, with increase in social media linked to brands the chances of brand loyalty goes up, and the chances of success for a brand are higher.

Ahem, Olan. “The importance of Social Media for Brand in the PR World Today.”
Public Relations Institute of Australia. (n.d). Retrieved on April 14, 2014
from http://www.pria.com.au/priablog/the-importance-of-social-media-for-brands-in-

What is Public Relations? PRSA’s Widely Accepted Definition (n.d.). prsa.org.
Retrieved on April 14, 2014 from http://www.prsa.org/AboutPRSA

Wynne, Robert. “What Do Public Relations Agencies Do?” Forbes Magazine. 1O April. 2013. Web. 15 April 2014

Evaluate Through ROI

Wondering which ways are the best to track your success in PR? I’m no guru, but rumor has it there are more than one. The most popular ways to track the success of any business is through ROI. ROI (Return on Investment), according to Investopedia, is a performance measure used to evaluate the efficiency of an investment or to compare the efficiency of a number of different investments. To calculate ROI, the benefit (return) of an investment is divided by the cost of the investment; the result is expressed as a percentage or a ratio (Investopedia, 2014).

Evaluating PR campaigns can be broken down into two different ways: Closed or Open system evaluations. These two methods can also be broken down into qualitative or quantitative research. The most critical reason companies evaluate campaigns is to determine the ROI (“Evaluating PR Marketing Campaigns,” 2010). Evaluating the effectiveness of PR and marketing campaigns in recent years has become more complex due to social media and technology advances. However, there has also been an explosion of measurement techniques and methods being developed to evaluate these campaigns (McGinley,2013). The problem with evaluation techniques is that, as the technology changes so do the techniques, methods, and terminology, which is hard for PR agencies to keep up with and expensive.

So, is ROI truly accurate? The Houston Chronicle gives a great example of how accurate this method really is. The simple ROI calculation method has the benefit that it is easy to understand. It takes a basic number, the amount invested, and divides it by the value of the gain. This gives a percentage of gain. For example, if $10,000 was used to start a business two years ago and the present bank account less any immediate debts is $25,000, the small business owner can state a 250 percent return on investment within a 24-month period (Simple ROI = $25,000 / $10,000) (Miranda, 2001). How will you evaluate your progress?




Investopedia. (n.d). dictionary. Retrieved from http://www.investopedia.com/terms/r/returnoninvestment.asp

Johnny Mcginley, November 3, 2013, Five Principles of Good PR Campaign Evaluation, Business Matters, retrieved from http://www.bmmagazine.co.uk/in-business/advice/21881/five-principles-good-pr-campaign-evaluation/

Miranda, Kay. (2001). Pros and Cons of Return of Investment. Chron. Retrieved from http://smallbusiness.chron.com/pros-cons-return-investment-3425.html

ad-və-kə-sē\ : Public Relations.

Advocacy. ad.vo.ca.se – noun \ˈad-və-kə-sē\ : the act or process of supporting a cause or proposal : the act or process of advocating something. 

Advocacy is the act of speaking or writing in favor of an issue by providing public recommendation and support. Public relations, on the other hand, are the activities of an organization, institution, or individual that are designed to win the favor of the general public and promote a better understanding of policies and purposes; it involves disseminating information in print and by non-print media. (Webster, 2011).

When using advocacy in public relations it should be used to better a campaign and truthfully reflect on your clients and campaigns beliefs. For this reason, public relations , the outreach to identify non-legislative audiences of importance to your organization and advocacy, the outreach to the public policy audiences should be viewed in concert (Public Outreach, n.d). They are two sides of the same coin and work best when they are done together. With this being said, Advertising could not breathe without its form of oxygen, advocacy. The main goal of these two intertwining is the effective use of public relations to raise public awareness of your issues to the point that public opinion helps you win your advocacy efforts.

An example of connecting advocacy through public relations is giving public support for the education of gifted and talented youth. Parents, teachers, and other advocates need to become knowledgeable and use positive public relations strategies on a continuing basis. This is what will not only educate the public but will allow them to become more involved. Karnes and Lewis (1997) urged supporters of gifted education to go beyond talking among themselves and provide accurate information to a variety of groups. With the many changes taking place in education, it is imperative that a broad foundation on the nature and needs of gifted students be presented to other educators and the general public. Public relations provides the vehicle to increase local, state, and national support. Karnes and Lewis are responsible for the outcome of public attention that the organization was receiving by allowing advocating for what most believe is an important part of education and the well being of others (Karnes, Lewis, 1997).

Advocacy. 2011. In Merriam-Webster.com.Retrieved May 8, 2011, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/advocacy.

Karnes, F. A., Lewis, J. D., & Stephens, K. R. (1999). Parents and teachers working together for    advocacy through public relations. Gifted Child Today Magazine, 22(1), 14. Retrieved from          http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.gvsu.edu/docview/203254595?accountid=39473

Public Outreach. (n.d). Retrieved from http://www.ashe.org/


Research: The Key To Success In Public Relations

Without research in Public Relations we would be unorganized and blind to what our competitor, and our target audience is all about. Walker states that the practice of public relations relies on research to identify features of its target publics, and its purpose is to inform, influence, or communicate with these groups. Walker mentions that it is essential for campaigns to require the collection, organization, and analysis of data to make adequate decisions and enable the right action (Walker, 1994). Although Walkers research was published in 1994 I feel as though some things will never change, and that is the need for research in Public Relations.

Public image of an Organization. This is one very important reason as to why research in Public Relations is greatly needed. As leaders of a business or non profit organization it is important to hold a certain positive image. Of course your going to be biased with what you have created into the organization but how will you know if others feel the same way? Research! With research you are able to know if your business or organizations public image needs improvement. Research also gives resources available to the organization such as information about any liability or possible threats that could jeopardize the organization, which then allows the leaders to take action and plan how the problem will be resolved (Symes, n.d.).  This brings me to my next point as to why research is so important in public relations, competitors.

Ashley Neal states in her blog that in order to make competitors notice what their up against, you can make yourself noticed first through research. Research surrounding  local journalists, bloggers, and news reporters. This way you show them that you take interest in what their passionate about (Neal, 20212). And who knows, someday, you scratch their back, they scratch yours. Knowing outside resources can be helpful when one of your main goals is to raise awareness of your business or organization. Competitors out there need see what their up against.

Neal, A. (January 18, 2012). How To Make Your Competitors Green With Envy. (Web log). Retrieved from http://www.examiner.com/article/create-an-effective-pr-campaign-that-will-make-your-competitors-green-with-envy

Symes, S. (n.d.). How Is Research Important to Strategic Public Relations Plans. Chron. Retrieved from http://smallbusiness.chron.com/strategic-planning/

 Walker, F. G. (1994). Communication Public Relations Research. Journal of Public Relations Research, 6 (3)141-161. Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.gvsu.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=8f77faeb-7ed3-4f50-aea5bca5fad95265%40sessionmgr113&vid=

Diversity, The New Colors of Business.

Take a minute to look around. See anything different? Do you see more Caucasian people than African Americans? More Latino than Chinese? Why would you when this is where you live your everyday life? The world we live in now is what we know. Now, imagine. Imagine in roughly 40 years it will all change. I had never thought that diversity in the workplace was such an issue until today.

As diversity issues in the workplace are increasing, so are demographics. How these are related you ask? Changing demographics in the United States are predicting Caucasians to be the minority by 2055 or 2060. Hispanics, Asians and Africa Americans are expected to be the majority. Who could have guessed that? This only proves that the workplace is becoming more heterogeneous. Not only people of color, but also gays, lesbians and the disabled are making a stand for employment, the workforce cannot afford to overlook these individuals (Hon, 2000). You are probably wondering what this has to do with Public Relations. Well, an easier way to look at this situation would be to recognize that the more diverse people you have working in your environment will only bring more diverse ideas to the table. A wider range of ideas will give your company a better chance of succeeding. Hon states that there is a growing sentiment that diverse employee teams outperform homogenous teams of any composition. Homogeneous groups may reach consensus more quickly, but often are not as successful in generating new ideas or solving problems, because their collective perspective is smaller. (Hon, 2000)

So, How can we improve diversity in the workplace? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of 2011 advertising, marketing and public relations jobs are held by a total of 8.7 percent African-Americans, Blacks, 7.3 percent Asian Americans Pacific Islanders and 15.3 percent Hispanics/Latinos. Howley states that there needs to be an increase in diversity at the top in order to see change. This means having more ethnic minorities who are executives and key decision-makers. By doing this, we can create a more diverse working environment, which means strategically successful campaigns that ultimately produce mean a greater return on investment (Howley, 2013).

In Gallicano’s article it is stated that practitioners have used several strategies in the workplace to overcome these challenges. A key strategy is having a mentor, which is “essential to the empowerment of minority public relations practitioners”. Other strategies, resilience to discrimination, quitting, demand respect, educating clients and supervisors (Gallicano, 2013).

Gallicano, T. D. (2013). Millennials’ Perceptions About Diversity in Their PR
Agencies. Public Relations Journal, 7 (2), 37-70. Retrieved from http://www.prsa.org/Intelligence/PRJournal/Documents?20132Gallicano.pdf

Hon, L., & Brunner, B. (2000). Diversity Issues and Public Relations. Journal Of Public Relations Research, 12(4), 309-340. Retrieved http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail?sid=b9122c54-98a5-47b5-8cd1-154b121e76f2%40sessionmgr198&vid=2&hid=112&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2


Howley, S. (2013) Diversity In The PR Industry: A Lot More Work To Be Done.
The Holmes Report. Retrieved from http://holmesreport.com/opinion-info/13328/Diversity-In-The-PR-Industry-A-Lot-More-Work-T0-Be-Done.aspx

The world of Public Relations

The world of public relations is most seen upon those who do public relations. Not those who see public relations. Behind the start of Fundamentals of Public Relations 220 the idea of communicating to the public seemed clear to me. Sugar coating a problem with the  purest, whitest, and sweetest of all sugar, right?, wrong. I considered public relations to hide all bad evidence of a bad situation and replace it with a better written script of how it will be handled and all efforts to make the situation disappear with time. My view of Public Relations was of such little knowledge that when entering my Advertising 220 class I was reopened to a new world of Public Relations ever imagined with more skills and abilities I didn’t know existed.

Now that my eyes have been opened to a new world of PR I am excited to see what information I learn next. I have learned that Public Relations includes research and analysis, communication, and programming! PR activity is deliberate and is designed to influence, inform and gain feedback. PR is planned and organized, solutions are discovered and logistics are thought out. The purpose of PR is mutually beneficial because it provides alignment of self interest with the public’s concerns and interests. My mind is just streaming with new concepts and details about PR that I didn’t know existed! I wont give too much away right now, but knowing more about public relations has made me realize that a world without color can be easily painted with what your passionate about.

From here I am planning on discovering what more there is to PR and what I can do with what I learn about PR. I want to know everything and anything. Reading articles assigned in class and class lectures will be my first steps to knowing more. Following and re-tweeting professionals can allow me insight to the PR world and becoming an avid blogger like many others out there will allow me to become known!