Blog Archives

The Power of the Hashtag

This may seem like common sense to some, but I recently discovered the power of the hashtag. I used to be somewhat skeptical about the hashtag. To me, it seemed like an unnecessary use of characters. You put # then a word to emphasize or reiterate what you already said in the copy of the post, and that seemed like too much.

After all, we learn in Public Relations, or really in any communication with the public, that we need to be concise and too the point. Only use as many characters as needed to get your message across.

I always got overwhelmed with the bombardment of hashtags some people would put on their posts, so I figured I would save others the onslaught and leave my posts simple and untagged. Well, that is, until recently.

I started a blog about a month ago. It was for personal use and to share with family and friends. My only follower was my mom, so yeah, it was a small blog.

On one of my more recent posts, I realized there was the option to tag your posts with keywords. I thought Why not? and put a few #keywords along with my post.

The next day, I checked my email, and I had a bunch of notifications from the blog site. People had found my post! They were interacting with it! I had likes, comments, and new followers. People searched the hashtags, stumbled upon my post, and actually liked what I was writing!

Since then, I’ve become a bit of a hashtag fanatic. Even tagging your post with one or two words can help increase visibility and make your messages more trackable. Don’t believe me? Try hashtagging one of your posts and see what happens! Or check out Tagboard or Hashtagify and search some hashtags you see trending on twitter.

We live in an age where there are thousands of people sending messages out into the digital world. Why not make yours a little easier to find by adding a few more characters including that little # above the 3 on your keyboard.


The Benefits of Research as a PR Professional

When people think “Public Relations,” that thought may not often be followed by “Research,” but research is actually a large part of public relations. When you think about it, it makes sense. PR is about shaping perceptions, and research can help you learn more about the impact of your organization.

Research at all points of a campaign is valuable. There are so many benefits including defining audiences, preventing crises, remaining up to date, and measuring your success. There are also countless resources available to us for secondary research (research using existing information and data), such as the internet, news releases, and all forms of media we can get our hands on, but we do have the option of conducting our own research.

Before you compose a campaign for your organization, you have to develop a baseline. This gives you an idea of how your client is perceived before the campaign is put into action. Here’s an example: you’re organization is a dairy distributor and your target audience is families. To develop your baseline, you may look into your current customers and see how and why they consume your products. Additionally, you may look at those who don’t choose your products or who buy less often and figure out what impacts their behavior. Following the launch, you need to monitor your publics and the impact on their beliefs about your organization during the campaign. This helps you adjust your plans and make your company palatable. With the dairy example, you may analyze families’ responses to your content and update anything that seems like a flop. Following the campaign, you must evaluate how successful your it was, so that you know how to best enact change in the future. If you’re selling dairy products, the easiest way to do this would be seeing how much product was sold to families; you could also analyze consumers responsiveness and engagement to determine how successful your campaign was.

A PR professional is expected to know the ins and outs of his or her organization. You must be knowledgeable of your client, any current or future problems, and your client’s audiences and how to target them. All of that knowledge is bettered by research, so if you can’t find what you need from a secondary source, don’t be afraid to conduct your own investigation and develop your own data.

This can be done in a number of different ways. Some are less involved, like ethnographic observation. Ethnography is a type  of research where the observer situates himself or herself into a naturally functioning environment and takes note of the patterns that occur. To continue with the earlier example, if you were representing a dairy company targeting families, you may go to a grocery store where your ideal consumer would shop and observe the type of dairy products they purchase and how they interact with them. This type of research can be easily and informally conducted by a PR Professional who just wants to learn a bit more about his or her organization’s publics. It is also ideal because your subjects are unaware they are being observed, so they behave more organically.

Another option is to conduct interviews to form a better campaign. The tactic of interviewing provides many options for a PR professional. You have the option of structured, semi-structured, unstructured, or group interviews. The varying ways you can interview allows for more flexibility in formality, so you can still take the initiative to learn more about your public even if it is not specifically required. This can result in rich data where you can get the exact opinions people have about your organization. You can also conduct interviews at any or each point in a campaign, so this strategy can be used to find your baseline, midpoint, and final evaluative data.

There are more than a few ways to conduct research and it can be so beneficial for your campaigns. Plus, it doesn’t have to be hard to do because there is flexibility as a PR professional. Take the time to learn more about your organization; whether that be by going out and interviewing people on the street or sitting in your cafeteria and observing how people interact within the company. Happy researching!

The Top Social Media Sites of October 2015 That Can Benefit PR Professionals

Although Facebook has been around for more than a decade, the social networking site still graces the top of the charts. The site is constantly updated and revamped to meet the latest technology updates, social shifts, or business needs. Because of Facebook’s inventive improvements, PR professionals can dabble in various tools on Facebook to closely connect with their audience and effectively promote a product or event. For example, an in-house public relations department can create a “Page” for their business or organization. Using the page, the PR department can create posts and “promote” them if they want to reach a wider audience, choosing between locations and age ranges. The PR department can pay for advertisements to pop up on various feeds along the edge of the website. If the PR department has an event coming up, the team can “Create an event” outlining the location, time, and other important details, and invite their friends to the page.

Linkedin-LogoLinkedIn: LinkedIn provides opportunities for professional individuals to network across a channel strictly for career purposes. Public relations professionals can use it to connect with other communication specialists and compare experiences within their fields. There is a plethora of groups for various professional areas where individuals can post and read articles about significant topics pertaining to their occupation. Additionally, individuals can join groups to read information on professions that may interest them. Public relations groups on LinkedIn cover topics from crisis management to effective social media sites. Public relations teams can use this site to scope out future clients and as a tool to meet other specific professional needs.

new_bird_0Twitter: The strictly 140-character streaming site has grown from being an outlet to share quick, nonchalant thoughts with friends to a media outlet used to communicate with publics around the world. PR professionals can use Twitter to gain perspective on clients and their current audiences, and it can help PR professionals determine audiences clients may be able to attract in the future. Public relations personnel can also use the site to provide quick information about an event or product to an audience that mainly uses Twitter. Another way that PR professionals can benefit from Twitter is by networking. There are millions of users that have diverse interests and occupations. Public relations teams can use twitter to “tweet” at other PR firms to learn new communication techniques or to connect with new clients to reveal that the team has an interest in them.

myspace_2012_logowhiteMySpace: Haven’t heard of this one in a while, huh?  MySpace was previously known as the “it” social networking site, and for many it seemed to have disappeared off the face of the Earth; however, it has transformed into a popular networking tool for the entertainment industry. Hosting comedians, bands, and musicians, the site offers customizable pages and a bypass of tough streaming laws. If focusing on public relations in the entertainment industry, PR professionals can use the social media platform to promote their client through an interactive page or search for potential clients on the easily-accessible website. Public relations teams can also use MySpace to run a campaign for a product or client by accessing those interested in their focus area.

Screen-Shot-2013-05-02-at-2.27.45-PM-730x300Instagram: Instagram is the social media application most used by individuals under the age of 35. Throughout the past five or so years, Instagram has grown into a super social media site forcing Facebook to put up its boxing gloves. No need to worry, though, the two are here to stay comfortably living side-by-side in the social media world. Compared to Facebook, Instagram is an entirely different form of communication. It uses pictures and captions as the sole sharing method. PR professionals can use Instagram accounts to post pictures of their company’s work in the office or the community, of an upcoming product or campaign, or of a client’s work or product. If a PR team is having trouble reaching a younger audience, they can use an ad promotion that shows up on users’ feeds or they can interact directly with potential audience’s posts to grab their attention.

My Experience as an International Student in PRLab

For international students who study PR, job hunting can be frustrating. We all know that PR is an experiential profession, but even those international students with an amazing resume can be rejected by potential employers because companies will not sponsor visa or don’t want to waste their quota for sponsorship. In order to create relationships with companies and better my chances for landing a job, I chose to take PRLab, and I have to say that this class has taught me everything I need to prepare for job hunting such as building my resume, and perfecting the elevator pitch and more.

One way we prepared for job hunting was to attend a job fair to learn more about potential clients and to tell them about ourselves. Even though job fairs can be awkward at first, I learned how to converse with different companies with confidence. I also realized that we are each responsible to figure out who we want to work with and to strive to make it happen.

Even though it is a class, professor does not assign your team. Yourself are the one who responsible to figure out who you want to work with and strive for it.

My client is in PRLab is RoLa Languages, a Boston-based language institute. The founder, Edward Lee Rocha, is a Harvard graduate who speaks multiple languages. Through working with Edward, I am not just gaining more hands-on experience, but also learning about company’s individual needs. This experience is different from my previous internship because RoLa is a startup that previously never focused on the importance of PR, so it is our responsibility to implement the entire PR plan for the company. Most importantly, the client trusts us and relies on us so our team feels much more responsibility to the work. So far, we have created a social media calendar, redesigned the company’s logo, brochure and flyers, and planned an annual party.

Throughout this semester, we have been working like real PR professionals. I think the biggest difference between working with big companies and small companies is that smaller organizations allow us more opportunities to show our capabilities. These skills will help me become a better professional and hopefully land the job of my dreams, wherever I may end up.

Written by Jiaying Gao

3 Tips to Help You Ace Your Next Interview


The process of applying to jobs and internships is very daunting. After all of the time you spent editing your resume and cover letter over and over again, you get a call saying you’ve been called in for an interview. The feeling of being on top of the world sets in and lasts for a little while before you realized you’ve only fought half the battle.

Your world comes crashing down, but don’t fret–this is the part where you can make a difference. This is the opportunity to show your future employer what makes you great and even more spectacular than you seem on paper. Here are some tips to place you on the winning side after the interview:

1. Do your research and stay up-to-date on current events

Nothing is worse than getting the question “So why did you apply to this company?” and having your mind just freeze. Whether it is the company, their clientele, or anything in between, there had to be a specific reason, something unique, as to why you applied for a position there. Make sure to check out resources on the company’s website or social media accounts so you are prepared for this question. Also, since the PR world revolves around current events, make sure you know the top stories of the day. My personal favourite news source is theSkimm, a newsletter that sends out emails daily around 7 AM, that gives information on the top stories from the previous day. The main thing is to try to read material on current events from places other than your Twitter newsfeed.

2. Dress confident, feel confident

The popular saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover” has truth to it, but would you choose a ratty book over a brand new one with the same material? Exactly. First impressions are everything and they can only be made once so it’s important to do everything you can in order to make a positive mark. Invest in a nice blazer and a pair of dress pants to show the interviewer that you are serious about the position. Also, when you look great, you feel great. Before strutting into the interview, make one final outfit check and listen to some upbeat music (no song gets one more pumped up for a battle than Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger”).

3. Don’t be afraid to have the final say

After confidently answering the interviewer’s questions, it’s time for the tables to turn and leave a lasting impression. It is important to show the interviewer that you have been listening to him while he’s been questioning you. Now is the time to ask questions about research that you did prior to the interview on the company’s goals and clientele. Ask questions pertaining to specific campaigns that the company has conducted as well as how each team is set up. Another popular question to ask the interviewer is to ask him or her the atmosphere and culture of the company. If you are hired, it is important to know how the office works so you know if you can envision yourself in that environment.

After the interview, make sure you thank the interviewer for taking the time out of his or her day to talk to you. Also make sure to send a follow-up email a few days later, saying thanks again. Try to find something new to add that refers to a topic you discussed in the interview. With these tips and a positive attitude, you will be able to take on any interview with ease.

Hungry PR Industry in China

Unlike the United States, Chinese public relations industries are just being to mature. However, the needs and opportunities in China are huge. People are starting to realize the importance of having public relations. Nowadays, most public relations agencies are mainly located in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Among them, Beijing has the largest market share. Some other smaller cities such as Shenzhen, Chengdu and Dalian also have small developing agencies. Top agencies in China include American agencies Ogilvy, Burson-Marsteller and local firms such as BlueFocus.

Besides the rise of public relations agencies, business firms are developing their own in-house agencies. Even though large companies gradually set up their own public relations departments, these departments are more likely Less effective given that often times in-house departments are relatively small.

Currently, China’s public relations industry is facing A wide array of issues:

Lack of experts

The most serious issue is lacking professional public relations practitioners, especially senior managers. This restrains the long-term development of the whole industry. Reasons for it vary from company to company.

First, the industry development history is very short and education system has deficiency in cultivating professionals. Thus, for many public relations practitioners the only way to learn practical skills is to rely on hands on experiences. Also, there is often no authoritative training in the industry as a whole.

Second, according to surveys, the average working time of public relations agencies is over 50 hours per week. This high work intensity makes professionals unable to pay attention to personnel training.

Unstable client and employee growth

Newborn domestic agencies emerges unceasingly, which leads to high personnel flow rate. For agencies, this causes waste of resources. As a result, agencies are unwilling to increase their training investment.

For clients, changing agencies frequently leads to the lack of long-term planning in branding and propaganda. Even worse, the disorganized management can create inconsistent messaging and thereby weakening the the company’s opportunity for success.

As one of the most important emerging markets in the world, the advertising and public relations professions in today’s China are growing rapidly. However, It is still evident that there are many immature elements in the industry and all these elements make this eastern giant hungry for the real public relations professionals and an authoritative framework that matches its culture. China, as a rising market and serves as an important player in the world economic arena, however when it comes to communications there is a lot China can learn from the U.S. practices.