Wednesday, October 31, 2012

How To Be a PR MVP


By Jillian Luchsinger, Assistant Account Executive

As we reach the end of October, it also marks the end of my favorite season, the conclusion of the Major League Baseball season.

While most have festively celebrated October preparing for Halloween with traditional orange and black decorations, I have spent the month preparing myself decked out with the same colors for the World Series.

Growing up in the Bay Area in a family of avid San Francisco Giants fans, you can imagine my excitement through October as my team proceeded to win their way through six elimination games to clinch a spot in the championships.

Since I can’t play in the majors, I’ve always found my place in the stands and at games as a fan. My dream is to one day get called up for a Major League Baseball team so that I can participate and “pitch” in the best way that I can.

So as I screamed, cheered and celebrated my way through game four when the Giants swept Detroit in the World Series, I couldn’t help but think of the lessons that a public relations professional could learn from the sport of baseball.

1. You can’t always hit a homerun.

There is nothing more exciting during a game than seeing a ball get launched over the fence, but players can’t always approach the plate with the intention of hitting a homerun. Sometimes, it is more necessary for a player to hit a sacrifice fly or bunt in order for a runner to reach a base.

In PR, we always have the intention of getting the most coverage for our client. True, it would be much more exciting to get a client covered by a huge, well-known publication or network, but it can’t interfere with the smaller opportunities that we can find in the process.  

2. Going 3 for 10 is still a success.

In baseball, hitting 3 for 10 means a batter has an average of .300, which is a great achievement. That also means that the batter struck out 7 of 10 at-bats. Baseball players are taught to look more at the success of their plays, rather than failures.

In the PR industry it is rare that you will please your client every time you pitch an idea. Instead of getting frustrated because they don’t like 7 out of the 10 ideas you present, embrace the fact that they like three of them and build on those ideas. 

3. It’s going to be a while, learn to love your team.

As a professional baseball player you commit to 162 regular season games. This includes a lot of travel, long days and nights, and all-around an extremely substantial amount of time around the same group of people day in and day out.

The PR industry is well known for having unconventional hours and group work on client accounts. It is best to create a sense of camaraderie with the individuals that you work with. Whether you’re in the dugout or the office, you want to know that your team has your back.

4. Be ready when your number is called.

Throughout a season, a team can lose players for multiple reasons, from injuries to suspension. In such situations, it presents the opportunity for bench players to step up and become influential teammates and players.

You can hold many different positions on a client account, from account executive to graphic designer. Regardless of the position, it is important to remember that even if you’re just support on an account, at any time you can have the opportunity to step up and shine.

5. It’s a mind game, change your pitch.

Baseball is a game of deception. It is about the pitcher getting into the batter’s head and making him think something is coming, keeping him on his toes and making him second guess his approach.

When pitching an idea to a client, it is also all about getting into their head and figuring out what they want. It is possible that they won’t like your idea, in which case, you shake it off and change your pitch.

6. The Golden Rule

Always remember, the best players don’t always have natural-born abilities, but commit to hard work and have the desire to improve and succeed using the skills that they have.

Monday, October 29, 2012

What to Expect From Your PR Internship


By Heather Wilson, Assistant Account Executive


I am gradually approaching the last few weeks of my final semester as a PR student and one of the things I have really learned from my 16-year college journey is how vital and fundamental internships are before entering the challenging and exciting real word.  

As a graduating senior, I have held four different types of internships including entertainment, fashion, agency and nonprofit. There are several things I would like to share with you that you can expect from any PR internship. 

  • Real world experience: One thing that your PR classes do not teach you is real world experience.  At your internship you will be able to observe professionals and see what a PR job really entails.  The skills you will learn in your real world experience include utilizing media-centric databases, performing client research, preparing clip reports, coordinating and working special events, and helping with social media projects. All of these will give you a taste of the many skills and communication methods that are required to become a solid PR practitioner.

  • Remember you are only an intern: Like it or not, you may have to administer tasks that have nothing to do with PR such as printing, filing, organizing a closet or making name tags.  Try to take on these tasks with a positive attitude and remember sometimes you’re just the lowest person on the totem pole!

  • Contacts: No matter where you choose to intern, you will meet people, both fellow interns and general co-workers.  These people may be able to help you get your foot in the door post-graduation, so it is vital to continue networking once the internship is over.  

Friday, October 26, 2012

Journalism Gone Social


By Jonathan Menager, Assistant Account Executive


It should come as no surprise that technology has had a very profound impact on journalism. As tech giants such as Google (reporting 2012 Q3 consolidated revenues as high as $14.10 billion) begin to surpass traditional media companies in terms of financial earnings, the effect of technology on the field of journalism can’t be overlooked.

The youth of today can easily identify with companies such as Apple and Google, but ask them what McClatchy and Gannett are and you’ll probably get blank stares.

What about social networking? Surely, social networking and social media didn’t exist prior to computers or the Internet.

Social media and social networking are entirely new concepts that caught like wildfire practically overnight when Friendster first went live in March 2002. This phenomenon is still kept alive today, over a decade later, by popular sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

But don’t get confused about social media’s place within the walls of journalism. Social networking has come a long way from the Livejournals and MySpace pages of yore. Believe me, there are companies out there that will pay a great sum of money to do what most of us do for hours at a time each day--Network and blog online.

Prior to my transfer to Chico State, I worked at a social media marketing agency known as Fanscape based out of Los Angeles, and one of my tasks was content creation for the company blog DigitallyApproved.

If we look back 18 years ago, blogs were just starting out, but they were a far cry from the marketing tools they can be today. Technology and the Internet have begun to transform the way we read and receive our news in today’s society.

Social media are, in fact, changing journalism. Upon my arrival at Chico State, I found it strange sitting in class and learning about Twitter and receiving lectures on Facebook, but this is journalism today.

My Fanscape job relied heavily on what I had learned in my journalism classes, although the company I worked for was in no way associated with “news” per se.

The success of Fanscape’s blog meant more credibility for the company. More credibility meant more business.

That being said, news companies need technology just as growing tech companies need journalists. Social networking has become a useful outlet for newspaper companies that can no longer afford to print their papers and distribute them physically. What is now being coined as “social journalism” has become a very handy tool in virtually every news corporation’s toolbox.

It’s bloggers and journalists like me that help to push these trends and change the social scape. Citizen journalists are even able to post images of breaking news events and blog on the go from phones.

Journalism is changing, and with it, new opportunities are opening up for a more interactive and personalized news and information experience, all within just 20 years time.

What do you think the next 20 years will hold?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Why I Love Editors


By Molly Rose Livingston, Account Executive


An often unnoticed and sometimes under appreciated aspect of the writing process is the impact of copy editors. Journalism is not a solo task, and it requires a healthy working relationship between writer and editor.

For example, this blog was not something I quickly jotted down and posted online. It was passed through a stringent TGC editing process that usually includes two to three editors correcting grammar or suggesting edits. This editing process is extremely important. 

I am used to spending a few hours crafting a story and having it returned to me by my editor covered in red ink. It is a bittersweet experience, but I love my editor’s input because I know that no matter how great I think my story is, my editors can always improve it.

Everyone needs an editor. Sometimes I spend so long writing and editing a story that by the time I finally finish it, I don’t notice even the most blatantly obvious errors. This is when a fresh set of eyes and the unbiased opinion of an editor is so important.

Through their constructive criticism and critical eye for grammar, they always find a way to make my story better. Sometimes they help me craft a stronger lead or a more captivating closing, other times they simply correct an AP Style error I missed.

I’m lucky enough to work with editors at TGC who will take the time to educate me on my mistakes, which prevents me from making them again in the future. This has made me a better writer and allows me to turn in more complete first drafts. Now when I’m struggling with a sentence I think, “What would Chris suggest?” 

I appreciate my editors and everything they do during the writing process. They do not get their names published in the byline, but they leave their mark on the story.

Monday, October 22, 2012

PR Major? It’s Cheaper Than Law School!


By Lauren Fusco, Account Executive


I stumbled upon the term public relations as I was choosing between the two journalism options that were presented to me on orientation day.

As I listened to my future adviser explain what public relations was, I thought to myself, ”Sounds sociable, that’s right up my alley.” 

The first time I ever heard a clear definition of public relations was in my “Introduction to Public Relations” course my sophomore year at Chico State. Before that class, I categorized myself as a journalism student. Now, I like to think of myself as a public relations student.

Once I had a nice grasp on what public relations meant, I began to associate my major with people who were witty, smart and those who knew their way around the corporate world. I realized that a public relations practitioner must always say the right thing and know how to articulate their words through writing and verbal speech.

As a child my parents made the comment ”You better become a lawyer. You have so much to say and want everyone to hear your point of view,” on more than one occasion.

Now, as a senior approaching graduation I do not think of public relations the way I did as a sophomore, I consider it to be an art. An art that can take images, words and perceptions and project them into the world to shape an audience’s point of view. 

To me, a lawyer and a public relations practitioner try to achieve similar things. Both present information, facts and an overall image to persuade the minds of those who are judging your client.

Even though I won’t be presenting the work I create to a courtroom full of jurors, I will be presenting it to the world. Using words, verbal and written, I can convey the messages I want my publics to see. 

The art of law and the art of public relations share characteristics in my book. The upside to studying public relations is not only less student loan debt, but knowing how to present your work to virtually everyone in the world, not just those in a courtroom.

Friday, October 19, 2012

What Really is Fair Trade?



By Kelsey Hilton, Account Executive


October marks the ninth annual celebration of Fair Trade Month.

We hear about “going green” constantly in the media and reasons why we should be more sustainable from plenty of celebrities. But what really is fair trade?

According to Fair Trade USA, it means, “quality products, improving lives and protecting the planet,” or in just one word, “fair.”
 
I never heard of fair trade products or buying fair trade until I came to Chico my freshman year. I enjoyed my first piece of fair trade chocolate, not fully understanding what it meant or what it stood for.

I soon after learned the importance of buying fair trade and what it means to truly be sustainable.

Fair trade is an organized social movement with the purpose of bettering trading conditions and promoting sustainability.

Fair Trade USA certifies that producers conform to labor and environmental standards, linking farmers directly to companies and cutting out the middleman. Ultimately, fair trade is about justly compensating farmers and workers and strongly advocates for higher social and environmental standards.

Last semester, I worked as an intern for the Sustainability Collaborative program on campus, where I was able to expand my knowledge on sustainable practices, and even learned how to build my own compost.

This semester, as an intern for the Chico Peace & Justice Center I am helping the organization with its fair trade store which sells fair trade certified products to the community throughout the holidays.

Both of these experiences have introduced me to a new way of life. I now find myself scolding my parents for buying plastic water bottles, and I encourage them to buy local produce and use reusable shopping bags. 

Last year, Yahoo listed Chico State as one of the top five “green” colleges in America and was also included in Princeton Review’s 2013 “Green Honor Roll,” acknowledging “environmentally friendly” institutions, receiving the highest possible score.

When we choose to buy fair trade certified products, the lives of many farmers and workers are improved. It is not only a step toward a more sustainable life for you and for the planet, but also promotes fairness and equality for farmers and workers.

           It is never too late to start engaging in sustainable practices and applying them to your everyday life.

           Here are some easy ways to celebrate Fair Trade Month this October.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Why Sipping Tea Will Improve Your Life


By Kylie Munoz, Account Executive


To put it simply—I love tea.

Maybe it’s my grandmother. Since I was a little girl, she has always loved to serve me green tea when I’m not feeling well in one of her 40-year-old white china cups. Maybe that’s what has made me love tea so much.

Or maybe it’s just because tea tastes delicious.

From the traditional black and green teas, to oolong and herbal teas, I’ve tried and loved them all. The acai pom sparkling iced tea from Tea Bar & Fusion CafĂ© in Chico is a frequent visitor in my tumbler and a guilty pleasure of mine.

According to Teavana.com, a specialized store selling a wide range of tea products, there are seven different varieties of tea: white, green, oolong, black, herbal, rooibos and mate.

The differences among these teas are:

  • White tea is the purest, least processed of all teas and has very little caffeine.
  • Green tea is sometimes scented with flowers or mixed with fruits to create flavored teas and only has about five to 10 percent of the caffeine found in a cup of coffee.
  • Oolong tea is full of fragrance and is semi-fermented and has about 15 percent the caffeine in one cup of coffee.
  • Black tea is fully fermented and has about 20 percent the caffeine in a cup of coffee.
  • Herbal teas are typically caffeine free and can be put into three categories: rooibos, mate, and herbal fusions. 

Not only is tea delicious, but there are also many health benefits that tea can give to its consumers.

Healthcastle.com says studies suggest drinking tea may reduce the risk of gastric, esophageal, skin, and ovarian cancer. It can also prevent blood clotting and lower cholesterol levels. 

Even with the many health benefits, I know there are still those that are loyal to the coffee bean. And if caffeine is your reasoning, then I suppose I see your point. Tea doesn’t have the same amount of caffeine as coffee.

However, tea comes in many varieties, may help keep your body healthy, and doesn’t contain the amount of caffeine which causes one to fidget.

So, as my grandmother Rosemary would say in a toast, “Arriba, abajo, al centro y adentro,” to tea!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Skype as an Interviewing Technique


By Eli Gibbs, Photographer/Videographer


The invention of communication via webcam has allowed the possibility of face to face global communication. No longer does an individual need to be physically present in a room to participate in the conversation. Since its inception, webcam communication has proven to be a vital tool for conference calls, interviewing and much more.

Prior to learning about its professional applications, I always imagined Skype as a way to interact with my family while away from home. Communication has many nonverbal cues that are missed in phone calls and not entirely portrayed in photos. The only way to truly track these cues is through video, which Skype can offer. 

About a week ago, I had my first Skype interview for an entry-level position after graduation. This particular public relations firm has offices in many major cities, but I interviewed for the San Francisco branch because it is best for my desired practice, technology.  

While each employer is sure to differ, here are some tips following my first and only Skype interview thus far:

1. Connection problems are expected

If you miss some information, do not hesitate to ask someone to repeat it. Consider using a cell phone for the audio component.

2. Eye contact is not as necessary as it is in face to face communication

If you were to truly resemble eye contact, you would be staring into the webcam, when it is expected that your attention would be on the screen. Make sure to look both at the screen and the webcam when speaking.

3. Be sure to ask questions, not just answer them

Do your research on the company and ask questions that will allow the interviewer to elaborate on what you can do for the company – not what the company can do for you.

For some tips about what NOT to do in a Skype interview, this article is sure to help.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A New Wave of Photographers


By Carter Caldwell, Photographer/Videographer


Photography exists in a variety of forms and is practiced and interpreted by people in many different ways.  

Few people consider themselves professional photographers, compared to the number of people who call themselves amateurs.  Somewhere within this category of amateur photographers lives a rather large group of people I like to call “Instagram-ers.”  

The very existence of these Instagram-ers produces a troubling argument regarding the individual, artistic aspect of photography.  Instagram is a smart phone application that manipulates an image, using a provided filter and posts it online for followers to see.  The company website  describes Instagram as “a fast, beautiful and fun way to share your photos with friends and family.  Snap a picture, choose a filter to transform its look and feel, then post to Instagram.”

“Transform its look and feel.”  Hm.  

I believe photography is all about getting creative and finding your own, unique perspective through the lens.  Putting thought and work into taking a photograph is what sets apart the true amateur and professional photographers from these Instagram-ers.  

Instagram has brought about a sort of cookie cutter take on photography, where everything ends up looking the same.  All it takes is selecting one of its filters, and the picture looks just like every other photo posted to the site. 

Kate Bevan, a writer who specializes in technology and social media, says Instagram is the “antithesis of creativity,” and that it requires no creative or artistic thought to post. 

So why buy into all the hype?  Why not get creative in your own ways?  

To all the Instagram-ers out there, I say break away from what’s trendy, and make something unique.  Don’t blend in with the crowd, blaze yourself a new trail and do what nobody has done before!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A World Through Rose-Colored Glasses



By Lindsay Smith, Graphic Designer


Coming from an artistic upbringing, I feel that I see the world in a way that some people may not. Growing up, my grandmother would always point to a flower and tell me the name of it, mention how beautiful the trees were in the fall, or insist I look at the stars with her in the early morning hours before the sun came up. She was also the first to teach me how to draw, to examine the details of the object I was drawing, and to pay attention to things most people might not think about. She showed me how to consciously perceive and to enjoy the things I took the time to look at. 

I cherish these memories, and I think about how her consciousness of the beauty in our natural environment has influenced me. She is an artist herself and encouraged me to look at the world around me, consider the aesthetics and to pursue any artistic inclinations that I had. As a result I have had the fortune of working with an assortment of art media including: ceramics, photography, painting, drawing, printmaking and even quilting.

Because of this upbringing, I still have an insatiable need to try new things and refine my abilities in art. This has contributed greatly to my professional pursuits in the world of graphic design. I feel as though I live with my eyes wide open, always conscious of the world around me. A world through rose-colored glasses; a romantic idea that truly is a sight to be seen.


Monday, October 8, 2012

A Whole New World


By David Anaya, Graphic Designer


A completely different world was revealed to me once I started my graphic
design education. I realized that design is all around us. Just by reading this
blog post, you’ve already seen the work of three different graphic designers. This
website, your web browser, and your computer or mobile device interface were
all meticulously refined into the final products that you see before. What I find
most fascinating is that each of these designs play a vital part in the core
concept of delivering information to consumers in an easily understandable form.

The great architect Louis Sullivan once said “form follows function,” which means that the form of the design all depends on how it will function in its finished state. You probably
wouldn’t design a bright and colorful brochure using Comic Sans font for a
professional ‘Fortune 500’ business, nor would you design a highway billboard
with a typeface that is meant to be read at arm’s length.

To the untrained eye, mistakes such as these may not seem like a big
deal, but they are enough to make graphic designers cringe.

Our view of the world is both a gift and a curse, as designers involuntarily
analyze every design we see. Every product package, every clothing tag and
every flier posted on a college board is imprinted in our minds in some way. To those
who have accepted this curse, life is more interesting.

We designers are in a continuous state of learning; constantly observing, evaluating and
absorbing designs. The world is our source for inspiration and our playing field
for practicing creative critiques. We learn and we improve.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

A New Kind of Wavelength


The New Age of Police Scanners and Their Impact on Journalism

By Joelle Cabasa, Photographer/Videographer


“There’s a 4-84 (petty theft) on West 6th Avenue and Esplanade.  He stole a man’s wheelchair and has taken to crashing into buildings.”

(Static)

“We have a possible 4-15 (disturbing the peace) at West 3rd Street and Pomona”

“There are reports of a man rattling the door and shaking the fence, trying to get in.  Now he’s picking up a potted plant and shaking his fist. 10-23 (standby) on this one.”

These events transpired in a matter of five minutes, overlapping each other and each more entertaining than the next.  On that lazy Sunday, nothing was more entertaining than a live stream audio of the Chico dispatcher.  Yup, you heard right – a free live stream of the chaos in Chico on Sunday.

Next call in – with my handy dandy police codes in hand.

“There’s been an 11-82 (accident: property damage) on East Avenue, right off of Nord.  The car is on fire and we have the fire department reporting to the scene.” 

Now I know what I’m doing during my downtime on the weekends.

For journalists without a police scanner at the ready, perhaps jumping to Seattle is more appropriate?  In the last month, the Seattle Police Department has released 51 new Twitter accounts, where the average citizen can scan, uninhibited, real-time updates on Tweets by Beat, @SeattlePDB2.  

Snooping through the latest happenings in real time versus Twitter, in any moderately populated area, is cause for concern, especially – for a journalist.

A journalist’s bread and butter is to be on the scene right alongside the police.  Getting a stab at pushing your colleague’s story, which took two weeks to gather, off the front page with a simple hit-and-run comes with the territory.  

So on the other hand, maybe one doesn’t want to wait for the hourly-automated Tweets by Beat?  Just something to keep in mind.

Decisions, decisions.  Twitter or scanner?

Although it’s not 1997 and the Wireless Privacy Enhancement Act has been put behind us, wielding the police scanner is like having a teleportation device at your beck and call. You know, like the Batman’s calling card.

Admittedly, it is reassuring to know many of the old-school journalistic practices are moving into the new age of public relations that is our playground: social media. 

(Insert applause here)

So for now, I guess Code 5 (stake out), while things continue to progress in the world of journalism.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

How My Passion for Words Led Me to PR


By Rosana Torres, Editorial Assistant


Ever since I was young, I have had a passion for words and the English language. My free time consisted of challenging myself to read books at the highest level I could. When I was in fourth grade, Mrs. Tarbox told me she had good news for me:

-“You are at the eighth grade reading level!”

My sixth grade teacher thought I was advanced enough to place me in the G.A.T.E. program; this is when I began to help other students write and edit their essays. Then my desire for copy editing was born.

Even though I wasn’t confident enough to enroll into AP classes, my counselor encouraged me to take two college-level English courses among other subjects. I succeeded in them and applied for college.

In the process of the Chico State application, I applied as a journalism student because I knew that I liked to write and had fun with grammar and spelling. Once classes began, I learned that there is more to journalism than just writing; I was introduced to the world of public relations by the end of journalism 101.

Fast forward three years to my senior year; I’ve worked as the public relations director for nonprofit organization ‘Relay for Life’ and have been accepted into TGC as an editorial assistant. It is only week six, and I have already gained so much insight as to what life at a PR agency would be like after graduation.

When I am asked what it is I want to do with a degree in public relations, most people are shocked to hear my career goals. Most people have developed an idea of what they think PR is, rather than actually knowing what we do. A recent article by the Huffington Post also disproves myths about what people think we do in public relations.

Many people think that social media are not very important, but in my world, how active I am in cyberspace can determine if I get a job or not after graduation. Being socially aware of what is going on in the industry can separate a candidate when looking for a job. 

Being in TGC has taught me how to manage my time more effectively as well as how to work in a team environment. I’ve learned how to balance four different schedules and mesh with people’s different work styles. Working in TGC has been the most beneficial learning experience in my college career.

Monday, October 1, 2012

How to use Pinterest for PR


By Christopher Tavolazzi, Editorial Assistant


People love Pinterest.

Pinterest combines life planning, self expression, and a visual escape into a cohesive online community. I love firing up my home page and scrolling through all the images, sometimes finding a picture of a cute seal right next to a hilarious captioned photo of the NFL replacement refs.

Pinterest’s self described mission is to connect everyone in the world through the things they’re interested in. Shareable content is king, and it seems to be working. 

An article in TechCrunch states that Pinterest is the fastest ever to break the 10 million user mark, doing so in two years. Traffic to the site increased 4000 percent in 2011 to 11.7 unique users, and now the site has almost 15 million users. That’s a lot of eyes.

So how can PR professionals capitalize on the fifth most popular social media site in the world?

First, get an account. Do it right now. I’ll wait.

Signed up? Good. Familiarize yourself with what the site and how it works.

The payoff: referral traffic.

As people share your content, you’ll get increasing free exposure from people interested in your product or organization. Obviously, this is great and pretty exciting, but how exactly do you do this?

Blogger Brian Solis says to think of content as “social objects” in his Sept. 24 blog. He advises us to produce content with optimized shareability and resonance, in an effort to get your audience’s attention. 

In a sea of pins, you want your image to stand out from the rest.

Aim to release content compelling enough to make this happen. Make sure your image immediately captures attention and interest. Try to release content on a schedule in order to keep your base interested. You want people to want to share your stuff, of course, and people re-pin what they like, what makes them laugh, and what makes them say “woah.”

Social media moves fast, with one viral video or cool image giving way to the next shiny thing within hours. 

Solis also draws a comparison to Back to the Future III, when Marty McFly is trying to get a train to reach 88 mph, but regular wood only gets the train moving so fast. Doc Brown engineers special logs that-when thrown in at certain intervals-allow the train to reach a higher speed. 

Use this scene as a model for your Pinterest campaign. Have something that whizzes through the social media scene getting re-pinned, shared, and tweeted like crazy. Then, when it dies out, release your next batch of content and watch the fire ignite all over again. 

Just make sure your log will catch with ease.