Service-Learning with BRAC has made this insignificant PR major feel slightly significant

It’s hard to believe that this semester is coming to a close. It seems like just yesterday we were split up into small groups to form our agencies for our SCVNGR project with BRAC. Our agency, Spotlight BR, has devoted all of our efforts to casting a light on all of the neat things to do at night here in the Baton Rouge area.  Baton Rouge nightlife has become our forte and we are looking forward to sharing our 8-challenge trek with our class next week.

I feel that I have grown immensely in the area of professionalism proficiency. Throughout this project I was expected to meet deadlines regularly and in the process I have developed a strong loyalty to BRAC. As the design director for my agency, I found myself spending hours upon hours before Adobe InDesign to make sure every single aspect of our campaign book was aesthetically pleasing. Even after finalizing certain documents, I still found myself going back and tweaking things. Initially, I was appointed as the strategy director, but the design director, Ramon Hardy, and myself decided to switch roles. I think this was for the best. Hardy has taken his role as strategy director to a level that would have taken a lot more effort for me to reach. Moreover, I feel that I have truly grasped the essence of what a design director does and exceeded expectations that I set for myself in the beginning of this semester. I have also become quite friendly with various Adobe software programs that I know will be very beneficial to me in the PR professional world.

In addition, I now actually know what it means to work for a client. Spotlight BR was able to team up with BRAC to create a trek on the SCVNGR app that promotes Baton Rouge nightlife.  Spotlight BR did everything and more to ensure that we were creating a trek that would reflect the overall mission of BRAC, which is to improve economic development of the Baton Rouge area through recruitment, retention and expansion of business and industry. I think Baton Rouge is a wonderful area, so I was thrilled to work for an organization, such as BRAC, that aims to shed light on all of the great things this city has to offer.

Check out my personal video reflection on this semester here.

Feel free to follow me on Twitter (@karen_nelson) to see what else I am up to as this semester comes to a close.

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A look inside PR professionalism and ethics through BRAC campaign

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I feel that professionalism and ethics go hand in hand. As a PR professional, one should always pride his or herself off of making moral decisions. Simply defined, ethical decisions are decisions made based on what is morally correct or morally incorrect.

I took a media ethics course last semester in which I learned a lot about how to make ethical decisions. I became very familiar with 3 ethical principles: utilitarianism, Aristotle’s Golden Mean and Immanuel Kant’s Categorical Imperative. Utilitarianism is simply defined as making an ethical decision based on the greatest amount of good that can be done for the greatest amount of people. Aristotle’s Golden Mean states that one should find a happy medium between two extreme views or actions. Lastly, Kant established the categorical imperative that is a duty-based ethical principle. It states that one must make decisions in accordance with their duty regardless if the situation were extreme or not. For instance, in my duty as design director for BRAC and SCVNGR, I am expected to compose the design of any and all aspects of our agency, regardless of any outside factor.

Throughout the course, we were given specific scenarios and asked to evaluate how each different principle would reach a conclusion. We were then asked to make a decision based on our own ethical mindsets. For instance, we were given one scenario in which a train was about to approach a fork in the tracks. If the conductor turned right, he would kill a man who had stolen a carriage and was stuck on the tracks along with seven passengers. If the conductor were to veer left, he would kill a little girl who got her foot caught in the tracks. The scenarios were always pretty descriptive and very hard to analyze at first. What would you do if you were the conductor?

This class was initially pretty challenging for me because it was hard for me to accept that there was never a true right or wrong answer. I finally reached an understanding that whether a decision is deemed ethical or unethical differs depending on what certain people declare right and wrong.

I think this media ethics course will help me greatly in the PR professional world. It taught me to evaluate all different facets of a scenario before reaching a final decision. I believe this is a very important skill for PR professionals to understand. I would like to think that many PR professionals follow in accordance with the utilitarianism principle because our primary job in life is to make sure everyone stays happy.

Follow me on Twitter (@karen_nelson) to see what else I’m up to as this semester comes close to an end.

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Service-learning with BRAC sparks my excitement for the PR professional world

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Taking a service-learning course has surely been a quick-paced experience, but I could not be more thankful for all that I have gained.

In working with BRAC and the rest of my agency, Spotlight BR, I feel that I have grown immensely as a PR major. I have truly gotten a taste for what real PR professionals do. Throughout my college years, I have always wondered if I was in the right field of study. Am I meant to be studying something else? I can now answer that confidently by saying that PR is absolutely where I need to be.

As the design director for Spotlight BR, I wasn’t too sure what I was getting myself into, but I am so glad that I was able to have this position for our agency. I now fully understand what it means to work with a client and I have taken on a loyalty toward BRAC that has motivated me to take my role as design director above and beyond what is expected of me.

Needless to say, Adobe InDesign is my new best friend. We have a love/hate relationship, but in the end I think we are meant for each other.  While I initially had a hard time navigating this program, I would now consider myself nearly proficient in it.

I realized just how much participating in this service-learning course has prepared me for the future just the other day.

Last week, my friend had a job interview with a PR firm in New York City. I asked her what kind of questions they asked her and she told me they asked her a lot about what kinds of PR documents she has written and what experience she has had. For instance, they asked if she knew how to formulate press releases or pitch letters. I couldn’t help but think to myself that I felt qualified for the job she was applying for. Not only was I capable of doing everything the company would expect from her this summer, but I also knew how to do more than the expectations. Had I been on this interview, I not only would have been able to say that I have composed all of those things, but that I was also capable of composing social media releases, memorandums, talking points memos and strategic message planners. It is also cool that I would be able to say that the list does not stop there.

This was a pretty cool realization for me. It helped me recognize just how much I have grown as a PR major from taking this course. And, let me tell you. Boy, am I excited to see what the PR future holds for me.

Follow me on Twitter or connect with me on LinkedIn to see what I’m doing as I get closer to entering the real world.

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BRAC takes a different approach to social media with SCVNGR

ImageSocial media and technology are not only slowly taking over the world, but they have become a way of life. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are all examples of communication portals that people have begun to depend on for information and news. Since social media and technology have become such a norm and are used so commonly in everyday life, I could not imagine what life would be like without either. 

Then again, I can.

During my freshmen year here at LSU, one of my professors challenged us to a “Media Blackout.” The guidelines of this challenge were that we could not use any type of technology or social media for 24 hours. We could only read about news in newspapers or magazines. No television. No telephone. Nothing. Initially, I thought 24 hours without technology or social media would be a relief, but in actuality it was very stressful at times. If I needed to talk to someone, I had to go out and find them. I also did not get the newspaper delivered to my apartment so in order to stay informed I had to go out and get a copy of the newspaper at the local grocery store. At first, it was relaxing not having to reply to texts or having to worry about people tagging unflattering pictures of me on Facebook, but then I started panicking thinking, “What if someone needs me?” “What if my parents are trying to get in touch with me?” That’s right. I forgot to tell my parents that I was participating in this challenge so I had a lot of explaining to do once I turned my phone back on and had received many calls, text messages, and voicemails from them that became increasingly more agressive in tone. 

On the other hand, while I do think social media and technology make things easier, I also think they make people extremely lazy. I am already a very active person throughout the week, but without social media or technology, my only choice was to go outside and be active for the majority of the day. This challenge made me more aware of how much I utilize social media. While social media may be harmful in the sense that many people rely heavily on it, I do think that it is a very efficient way to keep people connected which is a very big part of life. 

I think SCVNGR uses a nice spin on social media. Instead of just providing information that people can read and learn about from home, it encourages people to go out and explore all of the wonderful things the Baton Rouge area has to offer. With healthy living becoming a more trendy thing these days, I believe that people will be extremely susceptible to a more interactive form of social media, such as SCVNGR.

Spotlight BR anticipates putting together our trek and making it as fun and interactive as possible. As we continue to progress in our SCVNGR project with BRAC, we are excited to put a “spotlight” on various locations and map out a trek for those wanting to experience nightlife in the Baton Rouge area.

Feel free to follow me on Twitter or Instagram to see what I’m up to in my various endeavors as a significantly insignificant PR major. 

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Do you have a passion for stewardship in PR?

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Stewardship is a vital practice for all public relations professionals. In building strong relationships with clients and stakeholders, it could potentially lead to great benefits. Implementing good relations with every network you come into contact with leaves a favorable and lasting impression of yourself and whom you represent.

I think stewardship is an extremely important facet of my mini-campaigns project. As a group, we have a lot of social responsibility. With my group being in charge of creating a nightlife trek, we are held responsible for networking and finding out what Baton Rouge natives and visitors to the area would be more interested in and inclined to do during the evening. Without networking and practicing stewardship, this project would be nearly impossible. 

As we build relationships with our client (BRAC) and various businesses, we need to show stewardship by expressing how much we value their involvement with our agency. Let’s say that we check out a venue that only offers entertainment during the daytime hours of 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., but about a week after we meet with them, they decide to provide entertainment during the evening hours as well. If we leave a lasting impression on this business, then they would be more inclined to reach out to us and be more compelled to want to become involved with our SCVNGR project. 

There are many ways in which an individual can practice stewardship in public relations. One way is that you can often let your client know how much you value them. By making your client feel important, they will soon consider you to be loyal and put more trust in the relationship. You could also make the client feel important by meeting deadlines and abiding by your word. If you tell your client that you are going to call them at 2 p.m., you should be dialing their number at 1:55 p.m. Check out more tips on how to use stewardship as a PR professional here.

By instilling such habits within your agency and creating positive interactions within your partnerships, you will not only build a loyal profile for your agency among clients and businesses, but you will build relationships that could benefit you long-term. Essentially, just be polite and treat any client or business that you come into contact with as you would wish to be treated. We all like to feel important, don’t we?

Feel free to follow me on Twitter (@karen_nelson) to see what progress we are making on our SCVNGR project. Also, be sure to check back on this blog for more updates as we aim to “SpotlightBR.”

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Spotlight BR: Our service-learning experience with SCVNGR

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“I want to try a new restaurant soon.”

“I’m tired of going to the same local bar on Friday nights.”

“I am sick of going to the mall.”

Do these statements sound familiar? We are all guilty of saying them on numerous occasions. (Alright, maybe not the third statement if you’re like me). I am always looking for something new to do in Baton Rouge, though. Now there is a smartphone application created by the Baton Rouge Area Chamber called SCVNGR that lets users see what new and fun things there are to do in the area. My PR writing classmates and I are currently participating in this new geolocation-based mobile application design project.

The Baton Rouge Area Chamber is an organization that is dedicated to increasing the growth and expansion efforts of the Baton Rouge area. Stemming from these efforts, BRAC created  SCVNGR.

SCVNGR is an application that anyone with a smartphone can utilize to see what fun events are happening in the Baton Rouge area. SCVNGR is made up of various “treks” that are specific to certain aspects of entertainment. Check out how to play SCVNGR here! You can build on challenges, rewards, and treks on this mobile app. My PR Writing class is the only class within the LSU Manship School of Mass Communication who is able to have access to the free grant that allows each of us to learn hands-on about mobile application design.

We are working directly with our client, Julie Laperouse. She is the director of talent development for BRAC. You can find out more information about her here!

“BRAC is thrilled to add these SCVNGR treks to our promotion of the Baton Rouge area as the Creative Capitol of the South. Even long-time residents will learn about new exciting places in our are from taking one of these little journeys,” stated Laperouse.

We were each assigned to a group within our class that is specific for certain treks. My group is composing a trek specific to nightlife in the Baton Rouge area. We have named it “Spotlight BR.”

We want to shed light on the various venues, restaurants, and businesses that offer different types of nighttime entertainment for both visitors and Baton Rouge natives.

I am so excited to be a part of such a special opportunity. We have just begun the initial steps of this experience and I feel that I have already gained a ton of knowledge when it comes to researching and working for a mobile application design project. This service-learning project is a great opportunity that I believe will prepare me in many ways for future jobs and allow me to gain a ton of exposure to the different facets of the PR field.

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