case studies comments.

I am once again required to comment on PR-related blogs in the next few weeks. I will be posting my comments on here, continually updating this post each time I’ve written a new comment. Feel free to read and comment on these posts!

Comment #1

Article: Top brands come out on social media in support of gay marriage ruling

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Comment:

“This article makes me a happy girl. I didn’t realize how many big, influencing brands decided to show their support for marriage equality on their social media and I LOVE IT (I may have a strong opinion on the subject). Some might say it’s a brave stance, seeing as some of their customers may have been supporters of DOMA, and therefore may no longer be loyal to these brands. But these companies obviously don’t care. They’re showing support proudly in big, flying, rainbow colors! This could obviously work in these companies’ favour too…same-sex marriage supporters will WANT to shop at these brands more than ever. It could definitely increase their customer base. Maybe they’re trying to cash-in on this moment in history, but who cares? I don’t, and would love to one day work for a company that would proudly do the same thing. It gives me warm, fuzzy feelings inside and more hope for the future.”

Comment #2

Article: The 5 Facebook posts you should delete

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Comment:

“Thanks for your article, Kevin!

This was very insightful for me. I am currently in school for Public Relations and the number one rule we’ve been taught when it comes to managing an organization’s social media is to NEVER ever delete any comments. I always questioned this logic because I felt that there would always be times when deleting comments should definitely be appropriate. I think it would be unfair for a social media manager to reply to every single negative comment out there, especially if these comments fall under any of the five things you mentioned. Also, I’m glad you mentioned that your rules should be outlined in a company’s community guideline. This keeps everyone on track if you have more than one social media manager and it’s a good way to cover your butt! I will hopefully be managing the social media for a new cross fit gym soon and I’m sure I will run into some of these issues, so again, thanks!”

Comment #3

Article: 5 secrets to staying sane when you manage social media

Comment #3

Comment:

“This article was exactly what I needed to read today, so thank you for that! I recently started managing a social media account and was feeling overwhelmed with it this weekend. I just felt like I have so much to learn about it still and that it’s probably going to be quite a learning journey to figure out what is going to work best for this new company social-media wise! We’ve learned a little bit about managing social media in my program, but not enough for me to feel like I’m anywhere near an expert. That being said, it was nice to see an article about keeping calm when the stress of managing social media accounts can get to you. I also appreciated when you said to maintain your own voice. I needed to be reminded of that! I definitely feel like I can stay sane and savvy with your tips!”

Comment #4

Article: Facing lawsuit, Target apologizes for ‘multi-cultural tips’ document

Screen Shot 2013-07-17 at 11.36.53 AMComment:

“WHAT?! IS THIS REAL? I don’t care whether this was a sanctioned document or not, these things should never be said. I can’t believe someone actually created this document and presented it as training material in some form. How did that ever get past the higher ups? I can’t imagine being a Hispanic employee at Target and seeing/hearing those words. I would be utterly mortified and furious. I also can’t believe Snyder’s apology wasn’t more APOLOGETIC. She apologized for offending team members and said Target does not tolerate any form of racism or discrimination, but then why does this document exist AT ALL in the first place? Disgusting. This is a PR issue, but it is foremost a major HR issue. Someone should lose their job over this, and it shouldn’t have been the three Hispanic men. I thought Target was better than this.”

the art of persuasion.

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What has made you change your opinion of a public figure, organization or brand? Please give one example.

Does anyone remember Mike Jeffries? That loser CEO made me realize that I never wanted to buy Abercrombie & Fitch…EVER. Even though he’s since apologized, I will never step foot into one of his stores again after what he said.

Jeffries was stupid enough to say this:

 “In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids. Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely. Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny. But then you become totally vanilla. You don’t alienate anybody, but you don’t excite anybody, either.”

Disgusting. He only wants cool people to shop at his stores. Has he ever looked in the mirror? This is the best part of the whole thing. He looks like Gary Busey gone very wrong, if you can even imagine that.

What factors have influenced your decision to do or not do something. Please give one example.

It took me a LONG time to decide what to go to school for. I had dabbled in early childhood education, interior decorating, and human resources, but nothing ever seemed like the right fit. Public relations and marketing continued to come up as options, but for some reason I never felt like I would be good at either.

It wasn’t until I was at a crossroads in my life, and a friend’s encouraging words in December 2011, that I finally decided to go for it. I was working full-time at an organization with some great people, doing great things, but I never felt like it was where I should be. I wasn’t doing the work I felt like I was capable of doing, and it was making me miserable. I would come home and cry almost every night and I felt lost. I wondered if this was what life would always be like. Would I always be stuck in jobs that I didn’t like, for the sake of making money to survive? These thoughts were beyond depressing. I knew I needed to make a change. Then I went to one of my boyfriend’s family gatherings at Christmas time in 2011. His cousin’s girlfriend was there, who I hit it off with from the day we met. She started telling me about the school program she was in and really thought I would be a good fit for it. Little did she know that I was having a personal crisis and needed to find direction. The more she told me about this PR and marketing program, the more I knew I needed to take it. She 100% persuaded me to do it. And here I am now…30 school days away from graduation!

What has made you think differently about an issue. Please give one example.

I would have told you a week ago that I’d love to go to the Calgary Stampede one day because it looks like such a good ol’ fashioned, wholesome time. After last Tuesday’s class, I would say that I feel completely different about it. We did a case-study about the animal-cruelty PR issues that the Stampede deals with and it broke my heart.

I found out that many horses die at the Stampede, whether it’s from heart attacks due to the stress they are put under to race, or from being put down due to injuries. These poor horses are being forced under stress just to entertain the public. It’s a money-grab, and these horses are dying because of it. It made me so sad. I almost cried, in fact. That’s how I know something really bothers me. And I made the decision to never go to the Calgary Stampede because of it.

it’s a learning process.

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My Public Relations Fundamentals course is almost over. This Thursday is our final class. I’ve learned many things throughout this class, but I will touch on three key learnings that I have taken away from it as well as how working on the Canadian Museum for Human Rights project has informed my learnings of the PR process.

Key Learnings: 

1) Never underestimate the power of research.

I touched on this a couple of weeks ago in a different blog post, but research is the utmost important thing to do before beginning a campaign. I am always so eager to jump into the strategy and tactics because it’s the “fun part” of the campaign, but doing research first ensures that I am on the right track. Research provides major insights and ways to make sure that the effectiveness of the campaign is on-point with the target audience and that the message is delivered clearly.

I’ve learned throughout our project for the Canadian Museum for Human Rights that research is not always fun. It’s time consuming, sometimes frustrating, and sometimes unhelpful. But the only way to really gain some valuable insights is to GET OUT THERE and not give up. Ask people on the street, ask people you know. ASK, ASK, ASK! I am so bad for just googling for research. While this may bring some valuable information to the table, there is nothing more valuable than first-hand information from people who your campaign will directly affect.

2) Social media is a science.

Before even starting this program, I thought that I was a social media wizard. I’ve come to learn that I am definitely not one. It’s not as easy as it looks. There are many things to take into consideration when using social media for PR (or marketing). Not anyone can just be a “social media expert”, although many consider themselves to be just that. Successful social media is strategic and follows the RACE process. Social media marketing needs to be fully integrated with the PR/marketing plan and clear objectives should always be laid out ahead of time.

3) Teamwork is hard, but necessary.

This has been a lesson that I’ve been learning throughout the past ten or so months. We’ve encountered many (MANY) group projects throughout this program and they have been nothing short of exhausting and frustrating. I’ve learned that group work is difficult for many reasons, whether it be personality conflicts or a lack of motivation from certain members, but I’ve also learned that it is absolutely necessary. I’ve chosen a career path that will most likely involve a lot of teamwork, and I may not like or get along with the people I will work with. But that’s LIFE. I just need to suck it up, move on, and get done what needs to be done. The best way to make teamwork bearable is to try to remain calm and positive, and practice clear communication as often as possible.

CMHR Project 

The CMHR project has taught me a few VERY important things:

ALWAYS BE PREPARED FOR A PRESENTATION.

Usually your presentation or pitch is your one shot to impress. Be prepared, bring notes, and dress professionally. Don’t forget to smile, be confident, and be excited about what you are presenting!

ALWAYS BE PREPARED FOR AN INITIAL CLIENT MEETING.

Come up with intelligent questions before meeting with a client. If the client has already sent you information to look over, read it, research it, and make sure to not ask questions that were already answered in the information.

RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH.

Scroll above for more information on this. I can’t stress enough how important it is, even though it can be annoying at times.

BE PATIENT, EVEN WHEN NOTHING SEEMS TO BE GOING RIGHT.

There will always be bumps in the road. Don’t give up. Keep your eyes on the prize and the final goal. If you stay patient and positive, good things are bound to come your way eventually.

CLEARLY COMMUNICATE WITH TEAM MEMBERS.

The easiest way to get along (or at least be civil) is to communicate clearly with team members. Give as much input as you can. Be constructive. Most importantly, be patient with each other.

BE PREPARED TO START FROM SCRATCH…POSSIBLY SEVERAL TIMES! 

Even though you may think you’ve come up with the best idea in the world, your client, boss, etc. might HATE IT. Don’t take it personally. Take a big, deep breath. Go back to the drawing board and try again. You’ll eventually come up with something even better.

my interview with the lovely lindsay.

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I did an interview with my cousin (and friend), Lindsay Wright, about her public relations career and a campaign that she is most proud of. Lindsay has been in the industry for thirteen years. Since 2009, she has been a freelance writer and communications strategist.

Unfortunately, our schedules didn’t match up very well this week, so we ended up doing the interview over email. Although this was a very informal way of interviewing (and not the way I would prefer to do it), she was extremely understanding! So, thanks again Lindsay, for your insightful answers and accommodating attitude!

Me: What made you decide that PR was the career for you?

Lindsay: To be honest, I’d say that I stumbled on PR by accident… While I was in university (doing a BA in English and planning to become a high school teacher), I took a summer job at an advertising agency and was asked to help out on a PR campaign for a client working on a big Habitat for Humanity sponsorship. I’d really been enjoying the work in advertising and was already starting to wonder if that might be a better career path for me than teaching. This campaign was outside the agency’s area of expertise, so they brought in a senior PR professional to work on the project and I became her assistant for the summer. I had never really been exposed to PR as a career option before – and I loved it right away. The combination of writing and planning and working with people and constantly being challenged by moving pieces and variables was FUN. I can remember working ridiculous hours that summer, and hardly being able to sleep at night because I was so excited about what I’d be working on the next day. After my English degree, I enrolled immediately in a PR diploma program – and I was given the opportunity to stay at that agency and work on all PR-related projects. I’ve been in the industry ever since and I still get that can’t-sleep feeling sometimes when I’m working on a project. I think that’s a pretty good sign that you’ve found a career that’s a good fit!

Me: Please describe a successful & tactical PR project that you have worked on that you are especially proud of.

Lindsay: A few summers ago, I got a panicked call from a client of mine asking if I could take on a last-minute project. He’d been asked by a friend to help a group of small local potato farmers to organize their message and put pressure on the government to change new regulations that were quietly coming into effect – regulations that would suddenly make it illegal for them to sell potatoes at farmer’s markets, to local grocery stores and restaurants, or even at a roadside stand on their own farms. These regulations were put into place by a large producer co-op and they would mean the end for many of these small producers who’d been farming potatoes for generations.

It was so last-minute that I went to the meeting that night by myself – and walked into a room for 80+ angry farmers and other people who were upset by what was happening. By the end of the evening, everyone had had their say and we’d managed to decide on a few key representatives who would lead the charge. More importantly, I knew what we’d need to do to help them.

Working together with a team from Cocoon Branding (now ClarkHuot), we put together the fastest campaign I’ve ever worked on in my life. They put together some really impressive creative while I set up a blog, sent out media releases, drafted backgrounders, did some media training bootcamp for the people who’d be doing interviews on behalf of this coalition. Our goal was to gain media coverage and begin to put pressure on the Manitoba government and Peak of the Market leading up to an important meeting that aimed to have these new regulations reversed.

The news coverage was both instant and extensive. We were all over television, newspapers, and news websites – with the public squarely on our side. The creative was installed on billboards and in transit shelters… And the next day, our group met with the government and Peak of the Market – who agreed to re-write the exemptions for small potato growers, with the consultation of our group.

The entire campaign – from our first meeting to their last – lasted less than three weeks.

Me: Why are you most proud of this project?

Lindsay: I loved the challenge of figuring out how to make Manitobans aware – and make them CARE – about something they’d probably never even thought about before.

And obviously, the quick and tangible result of the campaign made it really special. We work on so many things that are a drop in a bucket and we hope that they help someone – but we can’t always be sure. This project meant everything to the farmers I met. And being able to deliver a positive outcome for them – an outcome that kept them in business – felt amazing.

Me: What is one piece of advice that you can give when it comes to taking on tactical PR projects, for someone like me who is just starting out in the PR world?

Lindsay: Just one?! 🙂

You’ll get stuck working on ‘boring’ projects sometimes – but there’s ALWAYS an interesting angle, and it’s your job to find it. Your work is always important to someone, and there’s always an audience that will care deeply about it. Once you tap into that, it will make YOU care – and that’s when you’ll do your best work.

Me: What keeps you excited and passionate about doing what you do?

Lindsay: I love the fact that every day is different. It’s impossible to work in PR and be bored (unless you’re boring). Those moving pieces and variables keep it interesting. And the tools we use change so rapidly – especially with social media and the internet. I’m not that old, but I’ve spent WEEKS of my life standing in front of a fax machine sending out news releases… I’m sure that I’ll see even more significant changes before I retire. But once you understand strategy and what makes a good campaign, you can learn to use any tool to help get you there.

Lindsay’s successful campaign for local potato farmers won many awards as well (for obvious reasons). Take a look at the images below to see some of the work they did!

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