Category Archives: PR Techniques & Tools

PRSA Student Summit

At the PRSA Student Summit on February 7, 2013, PR professionals spoke to college students about currents topics affecting the PR world. Content marketing, social media, SEO, writing a resume, and communication in today’s world were some of the topics that were covered.

One of the most interesting speakers of the ay was Ike Pigott, who is the Corporation Communications Director at Alabama Power. He brought up interesting points about the ways to gain the most knowledge from social media networks. He said, “Cultivate the network that makes you smarter,” which means use the social networks that you are involved in to make you more educated and informed about the world around you. One of the main reasons I have my social networking pages is to communicate with friends and see what is happening in their lives, not necessarily to find out new information. He made me realize how important it is to use my resources to the best of my ability in order to gain knowledge.

During the summit, there was a session about what is important to have in a resume and some things that can be left out. Everyone agreed that qualifications were a big part of a resume because it lets the employer know your skills. Also, job experience is something that is important to have on an application because it let’s the employer know that you have had some real world experience. This was an informative and helpful day, especially for Spring graduates.

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Take-aways from PRSA Student Summit and Real World Conference

On February 12th, 2013 I attended the PRSA Student Summit in Birmingham, Alabama. I approached this day with zero expectations alongside my classmates who were soon to be separated from my side when we were placed at assigned tables for the day. However, I soon made friends at the table and we then proceeded to listen to multiple sessions learning on topics ranging from social media to advice from professionals. All information was insightful, yet, it seemed to be information I’ve heard at least once before. Though I know it never hurts to hear it more than once, I left craving a more and wished I had more opportunities to meet professionals and ask them personal questions. However, I was able to leave knowing that I already had signed up for the Atlanta PRSA Real World Conference, and  felt hopeful that this day would provide with a little more to take away.

So, though it was not required for class, I decided to attend the Real World PR Conference on February 22, 2013 in hopes that I could make some connections in my hometown.  I have not officially made up my mind as to if I want to be in Birmingham or Atlanta, but I was excited to see some of the differences between the two cities and see if my heart was led in a specific direction.  Immediately entering Real World, I knew that the day was going to have a lot to offer, seeing as if Atlanta stepped it up a couple of notches compared to Birmingham. Being in a bigger city, I expected this but I had no idea the expertise which I would soon encounter.  In addition to the expertise and professionals who attended the conference, I was amazed by the amount of students and recent graduates who were there to share experiences and recommendations. I believe Real World did a great job of preparing interactive seminars which focused on building up our PR skills, but also helping us with personal branding and professional development which could help us land the job. They had a great understanding of the position we are in, and wanted to help build us up in a manner which would celebrate the skills we have but also open us up  to what more there is to learn. I personally enjoyed the sessions which helped me to create a story for my life and form a sustainable personal brand for myself. As PR students, we focus on learning about the client’s brand but often overlook our own. I know now, that being confident in my own brand will only lead to greater career satisfaction.

I could probably talk for hours about the take-aways from this conference. I was constantly taking notes and asking questions. This may be due in part to the fact that ‘Real World’ gave us the opportunity to choose our own break-out sessions, therefore allowing us to pick topics which would interest us the most. For example, for my first session I choose “Corporate World, Agency Life, or Nonprofit” instead of learning “Media Relations 101”, since I was interested in hearing the differences between the three fields of PR and learn how to help determine which path is a better fit for my working style.  My favorite breakout session was “Secrets from the HR Gatekeepers: Get the Interview. Land A Job” and with all of the information I got from that session, I could write a completely new blog on what I need to do to get a job now.

The rest of the day continued to be insightful as we continued to choose breakout sessions, then sit through a fantastic luncheon with one of the best speakers I’ve heard in a while. Mickey Nall (the National PRSA Chair & CEO and Managing Director of Ogilvy Public Relations in Atlanta) spoke on “Navigating the Multi-Generational Workplace Lessons from the Public Relations Front”. This topic is not one I have thought much about myself, but I know now that it is important to note the diversity of generations in the work place. Mr. Nall was able to give a great perspective on the different values, attitudes, expectations of each of the different generations and how we can work to integrate together for the better of our clients.

After lunch, we broke into resume critiques (which we also did in Birmingham). It is always interesting for me to see how people react to my resume, and it amazes me how much personal preference plays a role. I have now had 3 different experts review my resume, and though some had the same opinion, most had something completely different to say. Yet, I think I know now how to made changes.  After the resume critiques, we entered the career fair which was lined with multiple professionals from Atlanta seeking to make connections with students wanting internships and jobs. I was so thankful for this opportunity to network and handoff my calling card and resume. Even if I do not receive a call, I loved making connections and practicing talking with professionals. Networking is something we need to do everyday, but its not often we get the opportunity to do this in such a fast pace, pressured environment. It was exciting and I loved seeing all of the opportunities that Atlanta has to offer.

Overall, I had a great experience in Atlanta. I left with a new perspective on Public Relations and was excited to take the necessary steps to start to find that job. The Student Summit also had its high moments, and I know that in upcoming years, as Birmingham continues to grow, it could eventually be as big as Real World has become. I know in the future though, I would recommend Samford students to make the trip to Atlanta and experience this conference if they have the opportunity. And, if anyone has any questions I would love to answer them. I obviously have a lot to say about what I learned and would love to even share some of the tips I learned with the class.

Everything You Need to Know About SEO with Chris Davis

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.”

Meredith Foster Visits

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.

Chris Davis from Fi-Plan Partners

Chris Davis from Fi-Plan Partners spoke to the Principles of PR class about a few interesting and relevant topics.  Similar to many other class speakers, Davis did not know exactly what he wanted in a job right away.  He was able to experience many fields in the job market to gain a better understanding of what he truly enjoyed doing.

Chris Davis is now the Director of Integrated Communications at Fi-Plan Partners, an investment company in Birmingham, Alabama.  Davis is the head of video work, photography, website design, and networking for Fi-Plan Partners.  Davis expressed how vital creativity is to his job.  He is constantly coming up with new ideas and new ways of communicating.    

Davis stressed the importance of the use of search engine optimization (SEO). He said that this was a key factor in the success of his job today.   He is always looking to enhance the SEO website to bring his particular company to the top of Google searches. Top five words in SEO includes:

  1. Keywords
  2. Links
  3. New content
  4. Video
  5. Image tagging

The advice that we had the opportunity to receive from Chris Davis is tremendously helpful for any field of journalism.  Themes Davis expressed of design, creativity, and communication are all key factors in the world of journalism and will help each one of us further our own careers.

Chris Davis Presentation

ImageChris Davis of Fi-Plan Partners spoke to the JMC 492 class on Friday April 13. His experience in numerous fields of work taught him the things that he truly enjoyed in a job. After years of bouncing around in these various professions he finally landed at Fi-Plan partners as their Director of Integrated Communications. Davis’ presentation had one main focus and it was SEO and the intricacies that go in hand with it.

One big thing that he stressed was white hat and black hat SEO. As a company you want to make sure that you are using proper techniques to work with search engines to make sure you are at the top of your respected searches. If you do partake in black hat SEO you will be buried in search results and your company will have almost no exposure.

Another key point he had was that you need to work with Google and other search engines to have your website crawled as often as possible. This will help you climb to the top of the search engine results.

The last thing and probably the one I had the least knowledge of was the use of links and how they can affect your SEO.

“No one is successful without affecting people”- Chris Davis

SEO Tips From Chris Davis

Chris Davis is the Director of Integrated Communications at Fi-Plan Partners, an investment company in Birmingham, Alabama. He is in charge of photography, creating websites, and graphic design for the company. He made it very clear that search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the main keys to making his job successful and gave us a few helpful hints.

1. Keywords are very important and should be used often and correctly.

2. There are two types of links, outbound and inbound. Outbound links lead people away from your website and inbound links are links that lead to your website. The more inbound links that you have on other websites, the more traffic flow your company’s website will have.

3. The information on your website should always been new and fresh.

4. Video is an important component to a website because it engages the viewer. Videos are easier to make than most people think!

5. When posting pictures, be sure to name the JPEG file in a way that it describes the image. Google will pick this up in a search more easily.

6. The times you post on your website are critical. Research when most people are visiting your website so you can make sure the maximum amount of people are viewing your content.