Working the Quirks

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I saw this quote a couple of weeks ago at a Starbucks here in Reno, and it really stuck with me. Even though this statement was made by Phillip Lim, a fashion designer, about putting together outfits, it seems completely appropriate for personalities, too. It made me think about how our quirks are what really individualize each of us. At the foundation of our character, they are one of the things that set us apart and make us fun, interesting, dynamic people. This is especially important to realize in Public Relations – people and brands can and should be quirky. Building off of those quirks can help set a brand apart and make it stand out. 

I am definitely a very quirky person. My friends sometimes call me “weird,” but I prefer to think that everyone has their own specific quirks. And by accepting this and embracing my quirkiness, I have been able to build the fun, interesting individual that I am today. Here are some of my favorite quirks that make me, me.

1. Waking up at eights

Whenever I set my alarm to wake up in the morning, I always set it to a time ending in eight. For instance, I wake up at 5:58 instead of 6:00, or 6:28 instead of 6:30. A lot of people think that this is very strange and do not understand it whatsoever. But eight is my favorite number. Waking up on an eight gets me out of bed in a better mood, and usually gives me a better day. This is a completely mental, superstitious thing, but it’s an easy way to brighten my day and it’s been my habit for years now.

2. Having the tiniest bladder in the world

I get really embarrassed by this, but there’s nothing I can do about it. I have to run to the bathroom every day at least once per hour, and sometimes even more often than that. Since there’s nothing I can really do to change this fact, I’ve decided to embrace it. The frequent bathroom breaks I take give me a nice moment to step back from my day and take a little “me” time. They let me step away from my work or school and clear my head, which I sometimes desperately need to do.

3. Being a teenybopper

This is generally why my friends call me weird. I sometimes have the tendency to act like a four-year-old Disney princess freak…but I’m completely okay with that. So what if I am obsessed with Disney movies, “bop” when I walk places, or sing instead of talk sometimes? This teenybopper attitude brightens my day and, quite frankly, makes my life a lot more fun. And anyways, growing up is seriously overrated.

4. Popping my toes

A lot of people are double-jointed in different places on their body…but I have this blessing in my toes. I can pop them on their own…almost like I am rolling them or something. If I do it on a hard surface, it makes a loud cracking noise that is very fun and satisfying. It really freaks a lot of people out…but I think it’s cool! It’s a trait that I got from my mom so it’s almost like I’m carrying on my family’s quirks.

What are some of your favorite quirks? The little oddities that have shaped your character? Hold onto those…don’t let anybody try to take them away from you. They are uniquely yours.

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5 Ways to Make your Media List the Best it can Be

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Photo courtesy of blogs.xerox.com.

One of my ongoing projects as an intern at The Abbi Agency so far has been cleaning up and updating their overall media list. Media lists are a common task for Public Relations interns, so this assignment was not a huge surprise to me.

But what was a surprise to me was how huge of a project it became. I am ending my fifth week as an intern and I am STILL working on cleaning up the media list (when I’m caught up on my other projects).

This task has taught me so much about how to keep a media list organized. Here are the top tips I have for anybody working on their own PR media list:

1. Contact people

In our digital age, we are fortunate enough to be able to find most information we could ever need online. Visiting newsroom and broadcast websites has helped me immensely to find contact information lists of each individual news contact. But there is a ton of important information that a news outlet’s website generally leaves out.

For instance, it is crucial for a PR company to know when story ideas are due so that they can pitch stories on time. It also is necessary to know how a person prefers to be contacted. To answer these questions, it is imperative to actually reach out and contact the different news people.

Picking up the phone is the best way to get answers quickly for a media list. However, I prefer email (because I usually get tongue-tied on the phone), which also works. It has taken a crazy amount of time, but I have contacted almost every single person on our Reno media list to find out these details. The information I have received will be helpful to The Abbi Agency as they use the media list in the future.

2. Focus on individuals, not organizations

For a PR agency, it is not very useful to find a general number of a newsroom at a news station. What is useful is finding an individual reporter’s email address, phone number, direct line, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts, their beat, their story deadlines, and how they prefer to be contacted.

Make sure that you are looking for contact information of individual people as you build your media list. It will help you directly reach the people who work in news outlets and will give you a better chance of getting real media coverage.

3. Categorize and Organize

Your list is essentially useless if it is not organized and easy-to-use. Make sure you choose a format that works for you and your group as you start putting it together. We use Microsoft Excel for ours, which is great because it allows you to filter columns to locate information quickly. It also is a clear, organized format that keeps your data consistent and clear.

Make sure your categories are efficient and make sense to whoever is reading the list. The Abbi Agency’s list includes Twitter and LinkedIn accounts, but if your group does not use those social media outlets to pitch stories then it is a waste of time to include them on the list. Find what categories of information will help you the most, and use those.

I also recommend that you keep your media list on an open or shared platform. Whether you store it on the public server or save it as a Google Doc, make sure it is accessible to your entire group. This way, people who use the list can update it and add in their own information as they need to.

4. Invest Time

Like I said, I have literally spent weeks working on the media list and am still not finished. It is time consuming to look up and contact every person working in every media outlet in your region, but it is also incredibly worthwhile.

The hours that you spend now on your media list will save you a ton of time later as you are using it to contact media. It will help you reach people directly and with their accurate information, which will make your, or whoever is using the media list’s, job much easier. Keep that in mind as the hours tediously stretch on while you are building the media list.

5. Consistently Update/Check

Even after the endless hours and effort you have put into your list to make it the World’s Best Media List, your work is not finished. People change jobs, titles, emails, phone numbers, and hours all the time, which means that your list could be inaccurate as soon as you finish it.

To keep your list correct and updated at all times, make sure that you check it regularly. I would recommend setting aside time once a month to email your entire list and verify that the information is correct. And, as you contact the media day-to-day and find out new information, add it or update it immediately. Your list will never officially be “done,” but you can take these steps to make it as complete as possible.

Vine-ing Your Brand

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{Please excuse the links rather than embedded video. WordPress does not allow Vines to be embedded within posts…yet!}

One of my favorite things about our industry is that it is constantly changing. As soon as you’ve mastered one type of social media, website, or fad, it seems like something new appears to shake everything up. That’s one of the biggest reasons I decided to go into Public Relations – nothing ever stays the same long enough for you to get bored of!

Enter Vine: the next “new thing”. The video-sharing app, made by Twitter, became available at the end January 2013. It has become wildly popular in its four short months of existence. I personally heard of it in March, but even since then I have seen a big increase of people I personally know who are using it. It’s fun, quick, easy-to-use, and different than any type of app I’ve seen elsewhere.

So, what’s it do?

Vine lets users upload videos. Or rather, video clips – each post has a maximum of six seconds of footage, which loop continuously once they’re posted. To make a post, users simply record video with their phone through the app. A user records by holding their finger on the screen, and ends the recording when they release their finger. The cool part is that it crops as many little clips together as the user decides to include. This can make for a very interesting (but sometimes disorienting) video.

Here’s one of my friends’ Vines as an example. She caught each of us hitting a fountain one at a time:

http://seenive.com/v/940424128618463232

I think that Vine will become even more widely used and loved because it adds another aspect to sharing your experiences. Instagram gives you the opportunity to share and filter pictures, generally of things you’re doing in the moment. Twitter lets you post an endless stream of your thoughts and short blurbs as they happen. But with Vine, you are able to give people a full taste of your current experience, with sound and moving pictures included.

Alright it’s fun…but practical for brands?

This new resource is invaluable for companies building their brand through social media. What other app lets their audience see, hear, and almost feel whatever experience you are trying to give them, absolutely free of charge? I think that every company should take the time to learn Vine and use it as another way to connect with their audience.

When you’re putting together Vines for a brand, there are some key things to keep in mind. Here are some examples of how companies are using Vine well:

1. Being engaging and interactive.

Vines should be fun and entertaining, not disorienting or annoying. Taco Bell has done a great job of posting entertaining content that gets their followers involved in their Vines. Here, they teach users how to make a rose out of their sauce packets for an impromptu Mothers’ Day gift.

http://seenive.com/v/944431651235201024

2. NOT using the posts as annoying commercials.

I LOVE all of the Vines posted by Trident Gum. They never directly advertise for their gum in their Vines. Instead, they post creative videos that show their product but don’t feel at all like an advertisement. In this post, my favorite of theirs, they use Trident gum for a game of Jenga.

http://seenive.com/v/951246208976990208

3. Putting in time and quality.

Vine is such a great tool because it can create essentially a short advertisement for a brand while costing virtually nothing in time or money. That being said, you should take time to come up with an idea for your Vines…don’t just throw something together. Target did a great job of this, and put together an awesome summer scene with Lite Brites.

http://seenive.com/v/953847691761377280

I love Vine, and am excited for it to keep growing in popularity. At any rate it is a new social media, and another valuable tool to build a brand and interact with your audience.

Little City, Big Impact

ImageYesterday, as an intern at The Abbi Agency, I had the privilege of attending the kickoff event for Reno’s new rebranding effort as the “Biggest Little City.”

A grassroots team, including some members of The Abbi Agency, decided they no longer like the world’s perception of Reno. They joined together to raise their own voices and make the world realize what Reno truly is.

And just what is Reno? It is a community. It is a group of individuals, each with their own story. It is filled with people who each have their own reason to be in Reno, and their own passions and struggles.

Listening to each of the incredible speakers present their campaign got me thinking about myself as a part of this community. As a college student from Las Vegas here at UNR, I’ve really only thought of Reno as my temporary location. I figured that after my four years, I would find a job elsewhere and move on.

But somewhere along the way, I really did fall in love with this city. I am an individual who has become a part of this community. I love Reno, and can’t picture my life without it. So many aspects of this city have made me love it and have changed me forever.

Here are some of the reasons why I’m hooked on the #BiggestLittleCity:

 

Seasons

Growing up in Vegas, you really only get used to one type of weather: HOT. I have been living in 110 degree summers (that go on for 6 months) for as long as I can remember.

Reno is the complete opposite. Here, I get to experience ALL FOUR SEASONS. That is a huge, exciting thing for me! I love watching the leaves change and feeling the weather get cooler through fall, or playing in the snow on my front lawn in winter. Yes, sometimes we experience all four seasons in one day…but the Reno weather never gets boring!

Since living here, I don’t think I’ll be able to move anywhere that ignores certain seasons. I just enjoy the change in weather too much to give it up.

 

Endless Activities

This was the biggest surprise for me. Growing up in Vegas, you would expect that I would have more to do there. But, for somebody who was always under 21 years old, Vegas is really a boring tease. I was so surprised at all of the random things you can do in Reno, and nearby!

Like Vegas, Reno has clubs and gambling (which I have finally gotten to enjoy). But beyond that, there are so many other fun activities to do. Hiking, floating the river, laying by the beach in Tahoe, Aces games, and playing outside in the summer; snowboarding in Tahoe, ice skating, and playing in the snow in the winter, just to name a few. And if I ever get bored or want to do something new, San Francisco, Napa, and many other cool cities are within 3-4 hours!

Plus, there are a ton of fun events that happen here. The Rib Cook-Off, Hot August Nights, wine walks, beer crawls, ArtTown, Earth Day, Food Truck Fridays, the Rodeo…there is honestly ALWAYS some sort of special event to take part in (or go eat yummy food at). The community feeling I get at every event I go to is incredible, and I never want to leave that.

 

County Music

Speaking of the Rodeo, I’ve never been. This year’s rodeo will be my first, and I CAN’T WAIT! But last year, most of my friends went (while I was home in Vegas) and they got what I call the “Country bug”.

My whole life, I really haven’t liked country music. But when I came back to Reno last summer, I had no choice besides embracing country music (or making new friends). Since then, I’ve been hooked on it! I can proudly say I am attending the Rodeo, Night in the Country, AND a Luke Bryan concert this summer. I’ve gone country!

 

Amazing People

When I first moved here freshman year, one of my friends and I were walking around campus and he told me “step out into the middle of the road, anywhere.” I wasn’t sure what he meant but I did what he said, and every car coming my way stopped as soon as I stepped off the sidewalk.

That’s when I realized how friendly the people in Reno are. Had I stepped into the road in Vegas (or any other large city), I would’ve easily been roadkill. People here, in my experience, genuinely care about other people. They care about others’ days and situations, and really love making a difference for others.

Since that first day I have become close with so many of the incredible people up here, and I’ve made a family-away-from-home with many of them. From sorority sisters to co-workers, neighbors to classmates, I have met more amazing people than I could have imagined. I could never picture my life without these people, and many of them have forever impacted who I am.

 

All in all…Reno has impacted me so much more than I ever thought possible. Even if it does end up being my temporary location, the Biggest Little City will be with me for the rest of my life.

Lessons from this year’s Biggest Public Relations Crises

The Carnival Triumph

Photo Courtesy of huffingtonpost.com.

The Carnival Triumph was stranded at sea for five days in February. The press ran with the disaster, and the “#cruisefromhell” quickly became a top story. During the ship’s five days trapped at sea, thousands of articles, shares, tweets, and mentions circulated, damaging Carnival’s brand. Public Relations disasters are inevitable, and when they happen, our industry is usually tasked with cleaning up the mess. Lately, Abercrombie & Fitch has been under fire from comments made by their CEO, Mike Jeffries in a 2006 Salon interview. But this Public Relations disaster pales in comparison to a crisis from earlier in the year.

In our imperfect world, we can’t completely control disasters like fires stranding a cruise ship, but we can control how we react during and after such a crisis. Let’s review some of the lessons this situation taught us:

Lessons Learned

1. Don’t add fuel to the fire

Carnival’s twitter account, @CarnivalCruise, tweeted 67 times about the disaster as it was going on. Most tweets got 5-15 ReTweets and a couple of replies. But when they tweeted “Of course the bathrobes for the Carnival Triumph are complimentary,” they got 566 ReTweets, 96 favorites, and close to 50 replies.

This tweet was a HUGE mistake for Carnival. It made Carnival look rude and sarcastic, and was completely counterproductive to any other message they were trying to convey.

Never post anything that will give your audience the opportunity to create even more negative buzz. Instead, focus on the positive actions being taken and give realistic updates of the situation. Always use an upbeat and respectful tone.

2. Interact, Don’t Ignore 

In those 67 tweets, Carnival posted links to press releases, statements from their CEO, and updates from the sea. But they only responded to a customer one time. While they did a good job of keeping their social media updated throughout the crisis, Carnival ignored the concerns and statements of their customers.

Social Media is a two-way street. We especially need to keep this in mind during crises. Use your social media platforms to respond to concerns and criticisms when these events happen. It will make you seem more approachable, and will remind customers that you are doing your best to clean up the mess.

3. Take Action Immediately

Carnival did not release a statement from their CEO until almost three days after the disaster began. Because news travels so quickly in our world, most people had already jumped to their own conclusions about the situation by this time. This delay in reaction caused the audience to believe that Carnival was not properly handling the situation, or worse, was ignoring it.

Make sure you send out a statement from the highest possible executive as soon as possible. This is the best way to communicate to an audience that a crisis is being addressed and that a company cares about what is going on. Also, remember to always start with an apology. If your company is responsible for people’s misfortune, you should address that first with an apology and then continue on with the steps that are being taken to avoid future misfortunes.

4. Change The Conversation

Within hours of this disaster’s start, the hashtag “#cruisefromhell” surfaced all over social networks. Over the last few months, this hashtag collected thousands of tweets and posts, and became synonymous with the Carnival Triumph.

Carnival couldn’t control the tweets being published under this hashtag, but they could have created their own to counter the situation. If they had created a hashtag that positively highlighted aspects of the situation, the conversation would’ve been completely different. They could have included pictures of the crew helping guests, or videos of people helping each other while on board.

Try to come up with ways to put a positive spin on the situation, and refocus the conversation with your posts.