On April 13th, Chris Davis, Director of Integrated Communication at Fi-Plan Partners spoke to Dr. Martin’s Class. Mr. Davis’s road to Fi-Plan was not one you would normally expect to see. He graduated with a degree in English and then pursued his career as a traveling musician. During his time as a musician he worked his way into owning a recording studio and an O’Henry’s Coffeehouse. He then began freelance work before landing at Fi-Plan. The focal point of his presentation was center around the question “How are people going to find you?” The answer, of course is by using proper Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Mr. Davis explained that their are two was to perform SEO. Black hat is SEO by manipulation. It’s randomly throwing names and keywords in your tag bars in hopes that you will land towards the top of a Google Search page. White hat is the proper way to conduct SEO. It involves actually using your keywords on your website or blog post and using them frequently. He then informed us on the top 5 things used in SEO: Keywords, Links, Changing/New Content, Video, and Image tagging. There are three kinds of links: outbound (sending someone away from your website) inbound (someone getting sent to your website from another website) and Internal (sending someone to another area of your site). Mr. Davis stated that blogging is the easiest way to stay current and that he often shoots video blogs with the camera on his iPhone. “Video is the hottest thing in SEO,” Davis said, “Google loves video.” On the subject of image tagging, he said “it is the most overlooked thing.”
On March 2nd, Meredith Foster, Project Specialist for Girl Scouts of North-Central Alabama, spoke to our class. Her job is influenced heavily by social media. Her position also requires her to be a jack-of-all-trades and she does everything from graphic design to writing press releases. In her line of duty, Ms. Foster is often doing a lot of traveling between Birmingham, Bessemer, and Anniston, Alabama. Two of the programs she uses most are Indesign and Photoshop. Ms. Foster advised us to be avid readers. Some of the blogs she reads on a regular basis are Nonprofit tech 2.0, Social Media Examiner, Mashable, Social Media Today, Social Mouths, and Techcrunch. She also informed us on the ideal times to tweet and make Facebook posts (8:30, 12:30, and 4:30). “At 8:30,” she explained ” people are waiting to get on the clock at work so they’re are more than likely just killing time.” During the other ideal social media times, 12:30 and 4:30, people are surfing while they’re eating lunch, and checking their computers as soon as they get home. She the proceed to give us advice on building a portfolio. Two of the biggest things someone can do are getting published and going to professional development seminars whenever possible.
On Tuesday April 17th, Samford University presented a screening of the documentary Hot Coffee sponsored by the Cumberland School of Law. The documentary centers around tort reform and the McDonald’s lawsuit of 1994. There were about 90 people in attendance and convocation credit as well as lunch was offered. Dr. Martin’s Public Relations class first learned about the documentary from, guest speaker, Stacy Smith. After a brief viewing of the documentary, we as a class, along with Ms. Smith, brainstormed on ideas to successfully promote the screening around campus. Our class then became responsible for making our peers aware of the screening. Our tactics differed from running ads in The Crimson, to hanging up posters, to informing Samford’s Greek Life about the documentary. As a personality for Samford’s radio station, WVSU, I was put in charge of creating a pubic service announcement to air on the station. The PSA I ended up writing was : The Cumberland school of Law will be hosting a screening ofthe documentary Hot Coffee Tuesday,April 17th from 11-1. Convo credit is available and lunch will beprovided to the first 80 students in attendance. That’s Hot Coffee Tuesday, April 17th from 11-1 in the grandroom of the Cumberland School Law. I then relayed the PSA to Andy Parrish, the general manager of WVSU to air during station identification breaks.
On March 14th, Shawn Wright, Director of Venue Management for the Leslie Wright Center and The Pete Hanna Center, gave insights to the event planning aspect of Public Relations. As with pretty much all of our speakers for the year he told us that there is no typical day for him. However, what stood out the most to me about his work as a planner is the fact that he had some events booked for upwards of two years in advance. He stated that there were four major seasons that really never ended and all seemed to run together. The busiest time of the year for him is booking season that starts 18 months before any performance is held. He called this season “very frustrating” noting that things could change at the drop of a dime. Booking season is followed by grant season which is vital for funding with Samford being a private school. Finally, event season starts which means preparing the Hanna and Wright Centers for their busy schedules. While all of the planning stages are going on, Mr. Wright commented that he is always budgeting. After telling about his experiences, he then gave advice about going into his line of work. Although his schedule is usually quite hectic, he embraces it because the chaos keeps everything running. “If you’re in the venue business and you’re standing still, then something is wrong,” he told us. He pointed out that there is nothing worse than a unproductive theater. “A dark theater is like a dead corpse in your living room,” he explained, “it’s there and it’s there for everyone to see.”
Chris Davis spoke to the JMC 492 class at Samford University recently. He spoke about the importance of knowing how to use search engines. Knowing how to use search engines properly can give you major advantages in the PR industry. Chris Davis mentioned his five favorite words for SEO, which are keywords, links, changing, video, and image tagging.
He gave an explanation for each of the words. Adding website keywords will trigger SEO. He says that Google likes it when there are links to other websites in your website. Search engines notice when you update your website therefore you should do it often. They like websites that has the most up to date information.Video and image tagging in your website will connect it to other people and websites that can help give you more viewers.
Girl Scout’s Meredith Foster came to Dr. Martin’s PR class to speak on the daily activities she encounters as a PR representative for a non-profit organization. Meredith is the project specialist for The Girl Scouts of North Central Alabama; she works for the communications and advocacy program. She has many responsibilities such as, writing copy for publications, writing press releases, managing social media and even assisting in graphic design. Before Foster got to where she is today, she had to try her hand in a couple other jobs.
Foster earned a double degree in music and public relations. After she got out of college, Foster held a position at the Alabama Symphony Orchestra and it was here that she was introduced to the non-profit industry. Foster said that there are no set budgets in a non-profit organization and that she must always be thinking ahead of the game. She said it’s important to know the audience to to target a connection with them, that way she can better understand what the public will want from her and her organization.
Foster stated that it was important to research other blogs pertaining to non-profit organizations and to build up a portfolio. She stated that using social media to reach her audience was a vital tool that cost her company nothing. She said that social media gives organizations a simple way to let the audience know about upcoming events and press releases. She told the class how important it is to start building important relationships with those who you work with, to try to expand your portfolio and most of all to get published; it’s important to prove your talents. Foster said it was important for her to work in a creative environment, for that was her strength and that if you can be a “jack-of-all-trades” it will help your chances of getting a job in the future.
On Friday, April 13, 2012, Director of Integrated Communications, Chris Davis was a guest speaker to Dr. Martin’s PR class on his experience with public relations in the “real world.” A graduate from Samford University, Chris Davis was originally born and raised outside of Baltimore, Md. For the first two years of his college, Davis went to Germany where he met a professor who told him about Samford University. Davis decided to head home to the States where he majored in English and then became a musician for 11 years.
Davis started his conference company and recording studio where he taught how to do music for a living. Then for a change of pace, Davis opened a coffee house (Big Mt. Coffee) which he then ended up selling to another company. He then decided to be a freelance writer for the local magazine, Portico. There he was needed to communicate the financial jargon to clients to help others understand. Davis said an important phrase his boss told him was “no one is successful or fulfilled unless they effect the lives of the people around him.”
In Davis’ current work, he develops apps for clients to check their accounts online, he brews his company’s own coffee (a fi-plan partners house blend) he makes videos that help with revenue, and he designs websites. Davis went on to talk about the importance of SEO (for online websites) and how there are “white hat” SEOs and “black hat” SEOs and how this site-trafficing tool can harm your site as much as it can help it. Davis stated that the main aspects that will draw more attention to your website are : keywords, links, updating, changing, or adding new content, vlogs (video-blogs) and image tagging. Davis game insightful information on how to better your company’s website and that you can start out doing what you love while incorporating public relations into any job.