Category Archives: Topic of the Week: COMM 4333

Blogging–You’ve Gotta Start Somewhere!

Are you new to blogging? Do you sit and read blog after blog, but have doubts about starting one of your own?

Well stop doubting and sign up today! Especially if you’re a Public Relations student!

From laverrue's Flickr photostream

Here’s a list of my ten tips for a student blogger:

1. Eat, Sleep & Breathe AP Style–If you want PR professionals to read your blog and actually see it as a valuable asset to the PR community, make sure you speak their language! Read my post about the importance of AP Style here.

2. Tweet Your Heart Out–In addition to blogging, Twitter is one of the greatest ways to network with other PR students and professionals. Make yourself an account, start following some important people and tweet the links to your blog posts so that others can read what you have to say. Check out Barbara Nixon’s post, A College Student’s Guide to Getting Started With Twitter (start following her on Twitter while you’re at it!).

3. Write About Things That Interest You–If you write about things that you personally don’t find interesting, your readers will be able to notice. When you write about things that you find boring, your posts will come across as just that! Even when keeping it professional, you can add in personal posts every once in awhile.

4. Don’t Get Too Personal–Even though in number three I say you can make personal posts, that doesn’t mean you should go blogging away your feelings. The word “personal” in a PR student blog means write about events or opportunities that are of personal interest to you. Go to an interesting concert or want to share a YouTube video? Go ahead. Want to talk about how your roommate makes your life miserable? Make a separate blog and make it private.

5. Comments Away-In order to make connections with other PR professionals via blogging, you’ll need to start commenting on different blogs or articles on the web. Ragan’s PR Daily is a great place to start. Check out a list of my blog comments here.

6. Attract Readers With Shiny Things:  Pictures & Video–If someone goes to your blog and sees strictly chunks of text in every post, they will not stick around for long. Today, people thrive on images and videos and they are much less likely to read your blog if you are without both of them.

7. Long Paragraphs Are a No-No–When writing blog posts, make sure you keep your paragraphs short and use bullet points and lists as often as possible. When a post is broken down into sections it’s a lot less intimidating to a reader, especially those just searching the internet for a quick read.

8. Use Widgets, but Not Too Many–Widgets can be very handy little things on your blog, allowing people to quickly search for a particular post or see what kind of categories your writing falls under. However, too many widgets can make your page look cluttered and take longer to load. For a beginner, I would suggest these widgets; search, categories (list or cloud) and a calendar that shows which dates you have made blog posts.

9. NEVER Copyright!–Probably the most important thing to remember when blogging is that you must absolutely under no circumstances steal someone else’s ideas and write them as your own. Don’t think that your blog is unimportant and no one will ever know, because they most likely will and sometimes they’ll try to get you busted for it. If you want to share another blogger’s idea with your readers, simply link to their page. This is also important when using images–you can find images free of copyright on Compfight, just search for the image you want under the “creative commons” tab (make sure to still give credit to the photographer).

10. Find Your Voice–Although you’ll need to be professional on your blog, that doesn’t mean you have to pretend to be someone you’re not. Make sure you find your own way of writing to the public and don’t lose your personality in doing that. Read Rachel LaFlam’s post on finding your own blog voice here.

I hope these tips inspire you to start blogging and give you success!


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The Value of Podcasts for PR Students

From Fey Ilyas' Flickr photostream

If you read my blog in the fall of last year, you may remember when I wrote about The Creative Career, a podcast by Allie Osmar. If not, let me fill you in:  Osmar generally writes about the changes involved in the transition from being a student to being a professional in the communications world. She also gives tips on how to prepare for that professional world of communication arts, one that is changing every day. She accomplishes both of these things by interviewing successful professionals in the communications field and by posting podcasts online of her interviews.

This week I listened to a few of her podcasts and the one that I enjoyed the most has to be her interview with Elizabeth Wargele, co-author of “The Career Within You:  How to Find the Perfect Job For Your Personality.” In the book she, “discusses the nine personality types based on differing personal motivations—and how discovering your own personality type can help you find the career that’s right for you (or work with others in the career you already have).” In the interview, Wargele encourages high school and college students to read the book to help “get to know [themselves] and find [their] true selves.” She discusses three of the nine personality types–the perfectionist, the helper, the romantic, the adventurer or the observer. The personality types are determined by the motivation of the person. Are you moralistic (perfectionist), eager to help (helper), artistic, an explorer (adventurer) or do you like to watch and learn (observer)? She encourages recent grads to “stay with [yourself] and don’t let someone sway you to do something you don’t want to do.”

After listening to PR and communications oriented podcasts, I have to say that I think they are an incredibly valuable resource for PR students. Obviously, any interviews with successful business people, communications people or PR professionals will help students by giving them a picture of success and how to get there. Also, it’s a unique opportunity to be able to actually listen to an interview, as opposed to reading an article in which a journalist may have changed around an interview or put a different spin on the professional’s words. I see podcasts as another way to learn, which students can never get enough of.


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5 Steps to Creating Blog Voice

Here’s a guest blog post from my friend and fellow classmate, Rachel LaFlam. You can visit her Public Relations blog, “Mid-day Coffee Break,” here.

All the blogging tips out there say to create voice in your blog. But what does that even mean? And how can you begin to create voice? ‘Voice’ is the tone and pace of your writing that allows your audience to connect with you on a personal level and brings consistency. So how do you create voice?

1. Picture Your Audience

It might sound silly, but if you want your blog to sound friendly, then picture a good friend and imagine you are writing to them. This will help your overall tone throughout your writing.

2. Opinions

My English professor said to me once, “All writing is an argument”

If you are a human being, you have the ability to think what you want. Include your opinion in your blog! You might be afraid at first in case your readers disagree, but guess what? It is OKAY to disagree! This will just give them more incentive to comment if they disagree!

3. Humor

People do what they do for a feeling. You want them to feel good while reading your blog, right? Laughter and humor is a great way to ensure they continue returning. So find your niche. Whether it is sarcasm, bluntness, subtleness, puns, etc.

3. Watch Your Mood

Make sure you are in a positive mood when you are writing. Because if you aren’t, no matter how hard you try, it will come out. If you are forced to write while you aren’t in the best mood, don’t publish your work right away. Save it and go back to review.

4. Create A Style Guide

Creating a set of rules for yourself for grammar, spelling, and expression can help you become consistent with your blog’s voice.

5. Have fun!

If you are enjoying your writing and passionate about what you are writing about, it will come through and others will become passionate about what you have to say also.

Be quirky, be passionate, be intelligent. But mainly, be yourself.



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What’s the Deal With Infographics?

The book “Public Relations Writing & Media Techniques” by Dennis L. Wilcock defines an infographic as, “computer-generated artwork that attractively displays simple tables and charts.” When I think of infographics, I think of a graph or chart that uses interesting images or bright colors to present data to readers. They essentially make something that is normally comprised of black and white numbers and lines interesting by adding something that is pleasing to the eye.

Normally, when I think of graphs I think of math class in high school or the stock market, both things that are not exactly passions of mine. However, I’ve learned that graphics can be made fun by using your subject matter and interpreting it as art for the graph or chart. For example, when using a pie graph to display what kind of pizza different people like in a pizza parlor, you could make the pieces of the graph look like an actual pizza with the different kinds of toppings (i.e.: one piece with just cheese, one with pepperoni, one with mushrooms, and so on).

However, infographics can be used in more than just the obvious ways. You might want to have your chart of graph popping out of an object that represents something about your statistics, or gives an overall theme to the graphic. The bottom line is that no matter what you do to your information, a little color always helps. Presenting a plain graph made with little to no creativity does not reflect well on you or whoever you’re representing. Get inspiration from different sources, including your co-workers, and you can make an infographic that gets printed in a publication!

This graphic does not show real data, but it is something that hopefully will be true one day of my current “client” for my PR class, the Pre-Health Service Organization at Southeastern University:

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Get Your Chat On, With Twitter Chats!

Last night I participated in a public relations Twitter chat, #PRStudchat, led by Lauren Gray. At first, I was a little confused as to how the process of a Twitter chat worked. However, I was quickly able to catch on and join in on the conversation. What I enjoyed so much about the chat was that it was so easy to keep up with. I used my iPhone and the Twitter application to participate and was able to just keep refreshing the search for “#PRStudchat” when new questions and answers had been given.

I have heard, written, and talked a lot about networking in PR and honestly thought I had the hang of it until doing this Twitter chat. I realized that Twitter chats were a part of social networking that I had never tried before, and it seems to be the best way to connect with and meet PR professionals and other PR students.

From Abigail Silvester's Flickr photostream


The most exciting part about the #PRStudchat for me was that I got retweeted by the leader of the conversation! When asked for what I would look for in an employer, I tweeted, “I look for employers with good values and track records with past employees.” It was pretty amazing to have someone acknowledge something that I said among such a large group of students and professionals.

One of the most valuable things about Twitter chats is the fact that you get a wide range of opinions and ideas, sometimes things that you would have never thought of on your own. I personally can’t wait to participate in another chat and look forward to meeting more “PR peers” in the future!

If you’d like to take part in the #PRStudchat, they are every Wednesday at 8:30 p.m., just search all tweets for “#PRStudchat” and look for the questions as they come up on the time line. When you want to answer, make sure you respond with the hashtag #PRStudchat and Q# (#=which number question you’re answering).

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Everything You Need To Know About HARO

“Help A Reporter”, otherwise known as HARO, is a North American social media service founded in 2008 by Peter Shankman. On a daily basis, HARO ” brings nearly 30,000 reporters and bloggers, over 100,000 news sources and thousands of small businesses together to tell their stories, promote their brands and sell their products and services.” HARO is independently owned and free to all users.

For me, the most interesting thing that HARO offers to users is the place on the website made for journalists to submit queries. Essentially, if you need reliable sources and you’re on limited time, the website will send you the matches for the sources you need in order to write your story. Also, HARO offers another place for journalists and reporters to give each other feedback (constructive criticism) on news pitches.

HARO could be useful to PR practitioners in an incredibly beneficial way. When you are on a deadline and writing a news release, the website could help you find exactly what you’re looking for as far as sources go. Also, it can act as a proof-reader in a sense when trying to come up with story ideas and news-worthy content. Most importantly, HARO can use your company as one of its sources and you may find yourself being quoted in a major newspaper or magazine. You can’t beat the fact that there are thousands of professionals online every single day at HARO waiting to help you in your reporting endeavors.

All in all, HARO is a reliable, independent and up-and-coming social media site for journalists and PR professionals that I can’t wait to be a part of one day.


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My Latest From NewsU

Since the start of 2011, I have completed a few new courses from Poynter’s News University. One of these courses that I found particularly helpful was “Cleaning Your Copy: Grammar, Style, & More.” One of the most helpful sections of this course for me was the “Style” section. I am relatively new to AP Style and this section gave me a good overview of all of the important rules that apply to addresses, ages, abbreviations, capitalization, dates, distances, interstates, money, and numbers. Of course, I have an AP Stylebook that I can reference for all of these subjects, but it was helpful to have a quick introduction to all of these subjects in once place, without having to flip through the pages of a book.

I loved the organization of this course and the way that it gave you examples of each subject to work on at the end of each section. I am both a visual and a hands-on person. So in order for an online course to be effective for me it has to be both aesthetically pleasing and give me exercises to work on to allow me to put into action what I have just learned. I especially enjoyed how this course tells you how many mistakes are in a sentence so that you know how much you have to correct.

After completing this course, I realized that something I would like to learn more about is Punctuation. So in the future I might take a course that is more focused on that subject as opposed to this one which focused on many other subjects on top of punctuation.

As always, NewsU was incredibly helpful to me and allowed me to learn a lot outside of the classroom and on my laptop.






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