The Great Experience: Service-Learning, Professionalism & Outcomes with My SmokingWords LSU and SCVNGR

Service-learning courses tend to give students more out of class work that helps develop skills and professionalism. Dr. Jensen Moore listed in her syllabus ten course outcomes for this service-learning course, and I truly believe that they reflect the knowledge and skills that I have gained during the course of the semester. Looking at the list of course outcomes, I can find evidence throughout the course when I accomplished each one. Check out the outcomes, that I consider accomplishments below;

1. Understand client, audience and media information and format needs.
2. Demonstrate skills in locating, evaluating, and synthesizing research materials.
3. Understand the importance of truth, accuracy and fairness in the information gathering and distribution processes.
4. Demonstrate skills in writing copy on long and short deadlines and within space, time and platform requirements.
5. Produce and critically analyze story ideas and materials intended for diverse audiences and media platforms.
6. Create and deliver professional speeches and presentations that clearly and concisely convey messages to internal and external  audiences.
7. Demonstrate knowledge of Associated Press style requirements.
8. Establish and maintain positive client relationships and work as a part of a public relations team.
9. Create professional communications using technologies such as InDesign, Photoshop, Dreamweaver, etc.
10. Develop and refine a professional digital portfolio.

Outcomes one through nine were easily accomplished with in class assignments, and the campaign that Magnolia House PR produced. Maintaining our professionalism, we were able to work with the client to meet these goals, while meeting goals that were specifically tailored for the campaign. In doing this we established and maintained a positive relationship with Dr. Sylvester and her team, we produced story ideas, created professional communication and demonstrated our skills in writing copy. We also have been putting together a campaign book and presentation that will be presented to the class and the client next week.

In addition to the goals of the class, I was able to work with a group of students that helped me along the way. Working with the Magnolia House PR team, I was able to meet four people will similar goals and work ethic to mine. We were able to work professionally to help an on-campus organization that desperately needed our help. I cannot wait to present to My SmokingWords LSU the products that we produced for them, the outcome of the Great American Smokeout event that we helped them host, and the improved social media tactics.

Outcome ten, the professional digital portfolio, is currently in the works. I will be publishing my portfolio on Weebly in the next week or so. You will be able to see campaigns that I have worked on, including the My SmokingWords LSU campaign, as well as case studies that I have been a part of. I worked really hard to create a site that reflects my personality, as well as my goals and my professionalism. You can check out my portfolio at www.remydanielleplas.weebly.com or follow me on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter (@RemyDanielle).

Professionalism and Ethics in PR: How SCVNGR and My SmokingWords LSU gave me an opportunity to grow

Working with My SmokingWords LSU and SCVNGR has given me the opportunity to implement many of the skills that I have learned while a student at the Manship School of Mass Communication. One of the first items that we learn in the PR division of the mass communications program is that by practicing public relations ethically and maintaining professionalism, we will be successful communicators.  I believe that I have always acted ethically and professionally, yet not everyone knows what is and what is not ethical or professional in public relations.

According to the Public Relations Society of America maintaining public trust and protecting the integrity is vital to not only the organization or business that a PR specialist represents, but to the PR specialist themselves. This is why, upon joining a PRSA chapter, specialist must sign the following pledge:

PRSA Member Code of Ethics Pledge
I pledge:
To conduct myself professionally, with truth, accuracy, fairness, and responsibility to the public; To improve my individual competence and advance the knowledge and proficiency of the profession through continuing research and education; And to adhere to the articles of the Member Code of Ethics 2000 for the practice of public relations as adopted by the governing Assembly of the Public Relations Society of America.
I understand and accept that there is a consequence for misconduct, up to and including membership revocation.
And, I understand that those who have been or are sanctioned by a government agency or convicted in a court of law of an action that fails to comply with the Code may be barred from membership or expelled from the Society.

Ethical behavior allows for the PR specialist to work, without conflict, to better the organization and the public’s overall view of the public relation profession. In order to act as ethically as possible, PR specialist must follow key guidelines of professional values. Professional values as laid out by PRSA are; advocacy, honestly, expertise, independence, loyalty and fairness. By maintaining these professional values, the behaviors and decision making processes of public relations specialist will reflect on the profession as a whole. If the public does not trust the profession, then PR specialist will be ineffective, therefore acting ethically is necessary.

While working with My SmokingWords LSU and SCVNGR, I have acted in the best way possible to advocate for the organization. I have done so by voicing the mission and the reasons behind My SmokingWords LSU, and to maintain accuracy and truth behind the facts and statistics that support the mission. I have used specialized knowledge in social media to implement a SCVNGR trek that takes LSU students to non-smoking areas around campus. I was accountable for all of my actions, and was faithful to the client and the obligations that I made to the client. I respected the opinions of those who opposed the organization, and helped to bring fair discussion about the issues supported by My SmokingWords LSU.

Practicing ethical and professional behavior in public relations may seem easy. Learning and dedicating yourself to practicing the PRSA Code of Ethics will allow a PR specialist to be an effective communicator.

Check back in few weeks to see the end results of the mini-campaign for My SmokingWords LSU, and the success of the SCVNGR trek, or visit my LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter (@RemyDanielle).

How SCVNGR, Service-learning and My SmokingWords LSU has shaped my view of PR

There are five weeks left of my last fall semester at LSU.  In just five weeks my last winter break will begin, and in five weeks after that I will begin my last ever semester as an undergrad. The past four years have been preparing me to work as a public relations practitioner, and yet I find that as of this semester my view of public relations has changed. I have gone from a student who thought that practicing public relations was clinical, and could easily be done using template letters, to a student who knows that this idea of public relations is 100 percent wrong

Working with My SmokingWords LSU and the Magnolia House Public Relations team has offered me a chance to create and execute real communications, and to design an entire campaign circling around a mission that find important. I have learned that clinical practice of PR and template only hinders the communications mission of an organization. To properly relay the mission of My SmokingWords LSU, the team has created a number of pieces that will be released in the upcoming weeks. The pieces include an opinion editorial, a letter to the editor, a template letter to be sent to public officials, a brochure, a social media plan, a flyer, a postcard and an event plan.

Shaping the view that public relations is specially tuned to the client’s need and wants, has been the relationship that Magnolia House Public Relations has formed with Dr. Judith Sylvester, the founder of My SmokingWords LSU. Upon meeting Dr. Sylvester, she relayed to us the state of the organization, its challenges and its successes. Knowledge of the organizations struggles helped the team put together the communications plan that we believe will best benefit the organization.

Yet the best thing that I have learned is that while traditional communications methods can be sufficient to help a PR team meet its objectives, including new methods of communication will do the same. Soon Magnolia House Public Relations will be implementing a trek via the geo-location mobile application SCVNGR that will lead users to various tobacco free locations and to the final My SmokingWords LSU event. Had it not been for the service-learning aspect of the public relations writing course, I would not have had the opportunity to use different means of technology to relay a message.

Continue to follow how my view of public relations has changed because of the service learning class by checking out my LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter (@RemyDanielle).

Reaching an Audience; How My SmokingWords LSU uses social media and technology to get its message out!

Social media is taking over my life. I wake up and check my email, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts. I instantly know what exciting events happened the night before and what weird things have already happened by 10 am. Technology of all sorts makes this possible. The apps on my iPhone, TweetDeck on my Kindle Fire, and Internet Explorer on my laptop guarantee that I am always aware of what is happening in my friends’ lives and with the organizations I follow.

Magnolia House Public Relations has realized the benefits of social media in the execution of our campaign to make LSU tobacco-free. Using Facebook and Twitter to reach students has allowed us to increase our audience by 60 percent in one month. This means that we have raised awareness of My SmokingWords LSU and its mission by 60 percent. Raising awareness has been incredibly easy thanks to the many ways of access that have evolved over the last few years. TweetDeck has allowed us to manage both sites at once, helping us create messages that are fit for both mediums. Messages can also be timed and planned, allowing constant contact even if team members are unable to post.

It is our hope that awareness of My SmokingWords LSU will continue to grow as we implement SCVNGR into our social media plan. SCVNGR will allow us to reach an audience that is using social media as they ‘check-in’ to various locations. Our trek will include non-smoking locations around Baton Rouge and on LSU campus. SCVNGR, like Facebook and Twitter, can be accessed via smartphones, allowing for immediate communication and delivery of information. I believe that SCVNGR will raise awareness of My SmokingWords LSU among LSU students because it is instant and interactive.

The biggest benefit of social media and technology is that it allows public relations specialist to assess progress more regularly and effectively. We can now measure progress by the number of followers we have, or the amount of retweets a message gets. SCVNGR will allow us to measure progress by the number of people who venture into the Baton Rouge area with our trek. The combinations of social media, along with the technology of a tablet or smartphone, will allow instantaneous feedback, which will allow Magnolia House to understand better the audience that follows My SmokingWords LSU. This marriage of technology and social media essentially allows for effective two-way communication, which My SmokingWords LSU hopes to use to broaden its audience.

I cannot wait to see the feedback My SmokingWords LSU gets via social media and the SCVNGR trek! Check back soon for updates on the project! Please visit my LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter (@RemyDanielle)!

Breathing in the Air: PR Skills, Mobile Applications and a ton of fun

This semester, I am enrolled in a PR writing course in the Manship School of Mass Communication that’s main purpose is to create, propose and execute a mini-campaign for a South Louisiana non-profit organization. What’s the catch? We MUST use the smart phone application SCVNGR in our campaign. We will create a trek or scavenger hunt for our non-profits in the hopes of raising awareness of the organization and its mission. This unique opportunity is made possible through a grant obtained by Dr. Jensen Moore, our professor. We are currently the only class in the nation working with SCVNGR Corporation on any level.

Because this class allows students to work with client in real-life situation, it is classified as a “Service-Learning” course. The course aims to teach us how to utilize the PR skills we are learning though reading, studying and lectures, by encouraging us to put that knowledge in action.

First, each class member had to apply for a job on one of the four teams. The choices available for positions included; account liaison, strategy director, design director and writing director. I applied for and was assigned the position of Strategy Director. My go-getter attitude, organization skills and skills in planning made me an ideal fit for this position. I have interned with many organizations in which I was in charge of planning and executing various social media tactics, as well as events.

My group includes Ryan DeLaune as the account liaison, Mollie Williams as the design director, Kyleigh Quiroga as the writing director, and Mallory Richardson as my co-strategy manager. After three meetings, we have determined exactly how we will incorporate SCVNGR into our project, but have also begun the planning process of updating and maintaining our client’s social media pages. We also have named our group, as well as created a logo. The name we chose is Magnolia House PR. We believe that Magnolia House PR reflects our southern roots and our LSU pride. The logo is an orange background with a beautiful magnolia, and the name written below.

Magnolia House Logo

Magnolia House PR’s Logo

Magnolia House PR’s client will be MySmokingWords LSU, an organization aimed at making LSU a tobacco-free campus. We have already met with its sponsor, Dr. Judith Sylvester who is also a professor at the Manship School of Mass Communication. Many of the other students in my group have been in one of Dr. Sylvester’s classes, and already know that she is passionate about making LSU tobacco-free. I am very excited to work with someone who I already know, and whose passion is LSU-centric. We have already decided to update the organization’s Facebook and Twitter, and are hoping to plan the SCVNGR trek soon.

I am excited to work with the SCVNGR program and incorporate it into the campaign for My Smoking Words LSU. The opportunity to participate in a unique program and work with Dr. Sylvester in improving the lives of LSU students is something I am very grateful to partake in. It is my hope to raise awareness of the organization on campus and in the Baton Rouge community.

Starting a blog is something I have always wanted to do, so when the opportunity to join a class that involved creating and maintain a blog came up, I jumped on it! Check back soon for updates on the project! Please visit my LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter (@RemyDanielle)!