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.

is social media really relevant?

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Today we live in a digitally connected world. No one can deny that fact.

Whether you are a full-fledged addict, or a skeptic on the influence of social media, there is no doubt that social media has taken over the communication world and will continue to do so.

I am currently in a Public Relations class where my instructor, who is several years older than the students he is teaching, consistently claims that social media is not useful. Today he announced to us that social media goes everywhere and nowhere. Hmmm, Mr. PR Instructor, I beg to differ.

Social media brings many things to the table that are beneficial for both individuals and organizations. It provides a channel for learning, sharing, interacting, and building connections. If your business does not use social media, you are missing out on a HUGE potential market. The key to being successful is to be where your customers are.

According to a recent article from Huffington Post (http://www.digitalbuzzblog.com/infographic-social-media-statistics-for-2013/), 80% of users prefer to connect with brands on Facebook and 23% of users check their Facebook five or more times a day. Another interesting statistic is 34% of marketers have generated leads using Twitter. A disturbing stat is 56% of tweets to companies are being ignored. Once again, why aren’t more brands placing themselves where their customers are?

As a PR professional, your goal is to get your message out there, right? So why wouldn’t you want to send your message to where your customers are?

I don’t have the guts to argue with my instructor because I’d really like to receive an A in his course, but the facts and statistics speak for themselves. Hopefully he will realize this one day soon in order to not mislead more of his students. It’s a sad and dead-end road for people and places who don’t believe in the value of social media.

Our world is changing. We need to change with it in order to be successful.