Moving Forward

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Everyone remembers the Toyota brake recall. The incident first started when a family of four was traveling on the highway in California and their when their breaks stopped working. The crash was fatal to all four occupants. A month later it was concluded that the wrong floor mats were put in the cars, causing the gas pedal to stick. After that, Toyota had two separate recalls that included 3.8 million cars, including eight models. The company that became the world’s largest and most profitable automakers in the world, now holds the biggest recall since 2000. 

For the most part, I think that Toyota responded correctly. At the time of the crisis, they had just recently gotten a new president. He publicly apologized to the family, and all that were affected by the accident. Toyota then sent out letters to all customers with the affected vehicles notifying them of the recall. The media was still all over Toyota saying that their letter wasn’t detailed enough, and also that the company has been hiding problems from their customers. After any bad situation it is expected that the media is going to speculate and pull some publicity out of any situation they can. Soon after this, Toyota announces that it is shutting down the assembly lines for those models, and they are immediately stopping production of them. Toyota totally changed the way that the accelerator pedal was made before making any more cars. While it was a pricy decision, I don’t think there was any other way they would have been able to remake their name.

I think that Toyota Handled the crisis the best they could. It wasn’t an easy situation to handle because of the way lives were affected. I think, in general, the brand has become okay in people’s eyes again. With their new slogan of “Moving Forward”, I think they are directing people in the right direction. 

Photo credit: Fast Company

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So You Want to Blog?

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Every blogger knows that you can’t just sit down at your computer, write a bunch of nonsense and be a self-proclaimed blogging guru. The more you look around and research, you will find that there are specific strategies that bloggers use. Here are my most important rules:

1. Be Authentic. Use your own voice. In other words, type your words so they come out naturally as if you were speaking. People can get their information from anywhere (duh, Google) so you have set yourself apart and make these people come back every week to read what you have to say. Also, you have to find your niche. When you come across a successful blog, you will notice that it is a style blog, a stay at home mom blog, a craft blog, or a makeup blog. You are more likely to write better about something you enjoy. Keeping your blog consistent with a subject like the ones said, but not limited to, you will help you in developing a strong reader base.

2. Post Consistently. Giving your readers a guaranteed post to look forward to every week gives you more hits on your blog. By picking a day of the week and posting on that day gives your readers something to be excited about and want to come back. Even if they don’t like a particular post, you already have them hooked and they will likely be back next week to check on things. By posting every week, you are forcing yourself to write even if you might not feel extra motivated that day. The only way you get better at things is practice, practice, practice!

3. Allow Comments. Open up your comments section, and make sure you are commenting back! Yes, people can be mean, but they can also be positive, helpful, and give you a new idea for your next blog post. By commenting back to your readers you are giving them the sense that they know you and that you are some sort of cyber friends. I think you know what is coming next… which means more readers!

While these are my top three tips, there a plenty more to make yourself a highly effective blogger. I chose these three tips because these are the things that make me go to the blogs that I regularly read.

The Small Things Blog

Lauren Conrad

Makeup by Alli

photo credit: creativity den

#twitter

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Twitter. If you are at all familiar with social media, you know what twitter is and you most likely have one. Twitter is arguably the most popular form of social media out there; with an average of 175 million tweets being sent, and about 300,000 new users a day. Twitter is a way to connect with friends, colleagues, and advertisers. When using twitter, without even realizing it, you are advertising for other companies with a simple hashtag. 

For the most part, I think that companies do a good job with using twitter as a form of advertisement. They can promote deals, promotions, and new items and have it out to millions of people in an instant. Mixing the fact that twitter is a free form of advertisement with the statistics stated above, I think tweeting is beneficial for companies. For the most part, the only bad advertisement is no advertisement in my eyes. Even if a company experiences a hashtag horror story, people will forget about it and move on to the next big thing in five minutes. There is always an opportunity to redeem your social media credibility. Even if a hash tag doesn’t turn out how you planned, it is still getting your name out to the public; you just have to bounce back. 

One hashtag that sticks out to me was Susan Boyle’s, #susanalbumparty. While this hashtag was meant to promote her new album, if you look closely, the meaning can be altered. While I do consider this a hashtag fail, I agree with some critics and do believe this could have been on purpose. Either way, this hashtag earned Susan the attention she was looking for. She probably even had people tweeting about her who had never listened to her music before. 

I think her publicists did the right thing by leaving the hashtag running. It was seen as a harmless joke to twitter users in the end, and it earned her a lot of new publicity. 

Photo credit: mashable.com 

Hot Off the Press

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Sure, we hear about press releases all the time in the media. But do you really know what one entails? Could you write one right now if you were asked? Living life in our fast paced world can sometimes make it easier to just go through the motions instead of thinking about how things actually work. 

Press releases are important in our world because you can’t get coverage on your story unless you get your story out there. This is a go get em’ world, people aren’t going to do your work for you. As a business, this is an inexpensive way to get positive information about your company out to the public. A press release can serve as a prompt for newspapers or news casters to run a positive story on your company. Everyone from customers to investors can see the information released. That can mean more business for you, which means more money for you. 

A press release is a fairly short news story written by a public relations professional that is sent to the media (newspapers and new companies). A press release is intended to catch the attention of a publisher so they will write a story on the matter. Writing an effective press release is fairly simple. You just have to remember six components:

1. Who?

2. What?

3. When?

4. Where?

5. Why?

6. How?

Without these six things, you won’t have an effective press release. 

You’re press release should be written in third person; think of it like a mini news story. In your release, you want to include all of the important points, but without the bulk of a news article. After you have answered your six questions, the only other main info you should have is the introduction and bio. Going further than that, you are risking including too much information. Remember, that is the job of the publisher writing the actual news story, or news anchor. 

 Photo credit: buildawebsitetonight.com 

All One Big Lie

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Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, LLC, is a Wall Street investment firm that was founded by Bernie Madoff. Within this company one of the biggest ponzi schemes that ever took place in happened in 2008. Madoff was well known as a stockbroker, an investment adviser, and a financial guru. He is now well known as a white collar criminal. 

Madoff and his accountants, David Friehling and Frank DiPascali, tricked their investors out of 64.8 billion dollars. With figures like this, this scandal is said to be the biggest case of investment fraud in history. They did this by paying their investors out of their own money, or money that other investors had paid; not money from profits. Madoff eventually told his sons what he and the company had been doing. Madoff was quoted as telling them, “It was all one big lie.” His own sons reported him to the SEC and he was arrested the next day. Upon arrest he was charged with a single count of security fraud. After looking further into the issue Madoff had committed even more crimes than anticipated. By 2009, Madoff earned himself 150 years in prison. 

Overall, I do not think that Bernie Madoff’s scandal is forgivable. He essentially stole 65 billion dollars from his clients. He went against every ethical code that I or anyone else would look for in an investor. Even if Madoff was forgiven, it would be impossible for him to find new clients after this went down. There are some things you just can’t bounce back from. After uncovering that his wrong doings most likely went back to the 1970’s, I think that Madoff was rightly put in jail. I don’t understand the 150 year thing since that is past life expectancy, but I think he is rightfully serving his time.

Image credit: www.orangejuiceblog.com

Spotlight: Kevin Jenison

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Professor Jenison is an Athletics Media Relations Writer for Indiana State University sports. In a nut-shell it is his responsibility to keep statistics and player stories up to date, make yearbooks for the respective sports, write news releases, and to also maintain the websites of each sport. This, however, is not how I came into contact with Mr. Jenison. He is my professor for my Media Writing class. In addition to being a Media Relations writer, he is also an instructor in the Communication Department at ISU. I talked with Mr. Jenison to learn a little bit more about what working in Public Relations is like for him day to day.

ME: What’s a typical week like? (If no week is typical, then what was last week like?)

JENISON: Working in athletic media relations means that there is not a typical week with athletic events occurring on any given day of the week. That being said, a “typical” week at the present time begins Monday mornings with updating records and statistics from the action over the weekend. That is usually followed by filing reports with the conference regarding Athletes of the Week nominations. By the time the afternoon comes around, I begin to prepare releases for the next competition. Since I am responsible for track & field, cross country, and women’s golf, I usually have several stories in the works at the same time. Tuesday’s are usually spent talking with the coaches, writing releases on any national or conference honors, and updating each sports weekly notebook. Wednesday’s are spent finishing up the notebooks and finalizing pre-competition releases. Thursday and Friday are a little more relaxed but somehow I always seem to keep busy preparing for the weekend.

ME: Tell me about a project you worked on that you are especially proud of. (ex: column or article)

JENISON: This year I have been writing the feature stories for men’s and women’s basketball along with football during the past fall. I do take great pride in writing these stories, bringing a more humanistic side to the athletes I write about instead of just recanting their statistics from the season. I find the athletes interesting and their stories about how they started in their respective spots and why they chose Indiana State to be entertaining. The parents must also think so because I have received several thank you letters from them. This is a special time for the athletes and a special time for their families. To know that people actually read the articles does make me feel good.

ME: What do you do to keep current in the PR industry?

JENISON: The PR industry is a multi-faceted field so keeping up with everything would be a little daunting. I do stay up to date by reading articles sent via email to me from our association (College Sports Information Directors of America) which pull a lot of their articles from PR websites. I also belong to the PRSA. When time permits, I also research stories concerning facets of this occupation that I feel I need to improve on. Teaching also helps in this regards.

ME: What do you wish you would have known before starting your career in PR?

JENISON: I grew up in the journalism business so there was not much I did not know about PR before beginning my career. That being said, I would also acknowledge that the ability to develop public relations strategies was a weakness I had and I could have used more experience in developing those skills.

ME: How important is writing in your career?

JENISON: Writing is essential in any career that you choose. It is just more important in the PR industry because you are in the game of persuasion. Careful word choice, grammar usage, and the knowledge of how to put a story together are important for any writer who wants to be read. Someone who does not take these items into consideration will probably end up on the assembly line and not doing what they thought the loved.

ME: What three tips would you offer someone just starting out in PR?

JENISON: Absorb the AP Stylebook. It contains a vast amount of knowledge that is useful to anyone in the Communications industry. I would also recommend buying a grammar book and reviewing it. The most sought after writers are those that know how sentences are structured and how to use words effectively. Finally, I would recommend reading. It is only through seeing how others write that you can improve your own writing.

ME: How does technology affect your daily work?

JENISON: The increased importance of social media has drastically changed how this industry works especially the use of Twitter. It is a good exercise to try to disseminate the most important information in 140 characters or less without the use of shortcuts or abbreviations. That forces you to concentrate on the most important information and relaying that to your readers. Those comfortable with social media are becoming the most sought after employees.

I am very please that I chose to do my spotlight over Mr. Jenison. Not only did I learn stuff about a professsor that I would likely have never known, but he was able to give me good information to help me better understand the world of Public Relations.

Get in, get happy

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What would the Super Bowl be without its infamous commercials? If you are not a guy, chances are the commercials and Beyoncé’s performance were the highlights of the game for you. I can’t say that I saw every commercial because of working interfering… again. Out of all of the ones I saw, I do have a favorite.

I liked the Volkswagon Beetle commercial the best. I liked it so much because it was simple and straight to the point. It didn’t have a lot of nonsense in it like other commercials did. There was one message – Be happy. While critics were tweeting and posting blogs saying that it was racist, I didn’t think so at all. The two main points that the commercial is being accused of being racist is because the main guy with the Volkswagon is from Minnesota, but is clearly speaking with a Jamaican accent. There was also reggae music playing in the background. I think that he was speaking with a Jamaican accent with reggae music playing was to portray that he was living the happy worry free life that Jamaicans are known for. That’s not racist to me or something to be offended by in my eyes. I would take it as a compliment if someone came up to me and said “wow you really live a worry free life style.” That is what life is all about, doing what you love and being happy while doing it. Obviously owning a Volksagon Beetle isn’t going to do this for you, but what I think the company is trying to get across is that it can help you along the journey. People are looking too closely into things and trying to find something to criticize about a great commercial. Some people just need to don’t worry, and be HAPPY! 🙂

“The road may be rocky, but it sure feels good to me.” -Bob Marley

Photo Credit: Bazzerio