What in Procrastination

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The ongoing Twitter trend of the past month has been creating various versions of the phrase ‘what in tarnation.’ As a student at a fairly conservative university, whose chapel theme for the semester is reconciliation, I chuckle at the amount of retweets the kid who posted ‘what in reconciliation’ over our chaplains photo received.

Now, my post tonight is not so much about Twitter, my college, or even what tarnation really means. Tonight, as I am under a time crunch to finish writing, I want to talk about procrastination (fitting, right?). Whether you are a college student like me or out in the real world, we all can relate to being under pressure or racing against the clock to finish a project or task.

If I said I am one of those students who finishes all of her homework ahead of time, I would be telling the lie of all lies. I have to explain, though, that I would love to be that student who is stress free because they are done with tasks in advance. Unfortunately I have mastered the art of procrastination.

As a student will many responsibilities, I feel as though I am hustling to finish one task after another by deadlines each day. I had the feeling this would change after my crazy student lifestyle was over, but my elders have assured me this simply isn’t the case, and sometimes the craziest may even get worse, especially is children are added to the mix.

I must secretly enjoy the adrenaline rush which comes along with getting things done right on time because I can’t seem to stop myself from doing it. Even if I had more than enough time to finish something, I would find other tasks to complete to postpone the one item I am being forced to complete due to time. This makes me reflect back to a time as a freshmen when I wasted approximately three hours watching YouTube videos of people falling before writing a paper due the next day.

As a student and professional, we are going to be faced with deadlines; there is no avoiding them. I choose today to stop being the one who turns in the assignment at 11:58, when it’s due at 11:59. I choose today to stop wasting time thinking about how long a task is going to take to complete, when I could have completed it in the time I took to think about how long it was going to take. I choose today to lower my blood pressure by attempting to finish assignments/projects in advance. Let’s face it, I’m not getting any younger, and this body won’t be able to take this type of stress for too much longer.

In PR specifically, time is an asset and a threat to an organization’s reputation. If feedback isn’t given immediately after a crisis, business leaders can kiss their positive reputation goodbye. When the opposite happens, timely feedback, quickly issued apologies, or early information releases could be the breaking point for reputaion redemption.

Choose TODAY to become unfamiliar with the term procrastination. Choose today to retire from being the adrenaline junkie of your school or workplace. Become the person who calls out other procrastinators and offer them a better way of living. Become the first one to call out a friend with the phrase ‘what i procrastination.’ You will be respected.

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Grammar Checks

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Think back to a time, possibly even earlier today, when you were scrolling through social media and instantly became the grammar police. You happen to see a friend has misused a version of the words ‘to,’ ‘too,’ and ‘two.’ Perhaps you are similar to myself and feel the urge to correct the friend, much like an English teacher, who doesn’t exactly have any credentials.

My absolute favorite grammar mistake to correct my friends and family on is the difference between ‘their,’ ‘there,’ and ‘they’re,’ and I experience almost as much satisfaction from expressing which ‘it’s’ or ‘its’ to use. TWO (not too) types of people exist in this world, those who love grammar and those who despise the rules.

Growing up, I loved grammar so much that I actually wanted to become an English teacher, simply in order to correct people who misuse words. My skin crawls when I see incorrect grammar, and I truly believe in the importance of learning about the rules grammar entails.

What does my grammar rant have to do with public relations? As a way to improve professionalism in Olivet’s student-run PR firm, Inspired Strategies Agency, a presentation was given on common grammar mistakes and myths. No matter how proficient you think you are in grammatical accuracy, I would be willing to bet on the fact that you have been making a mistake of some kind.

I realized a few technicalities of grammar during this presentation that I had never thought of previously. Here are some of my favorites:

  • That vs Which

That is a restrictive pronoun, which means the information connected to it is essential and is not set off by a comma.

            The books that were in the basement were ruined by the flood.

Which is a nonrestrictive pronoun, so that means that it carries nonessential information and requires a comma.

            The books, which were in the basement, were ruined by the flood.

  • RAVEN: Remember, Affect is a Verb, and Effect is a Noun.

The clothes were affected by the dye.

The medicine caused negative effects on the patient. 

  • Who vs Whom

Try asking or answering a question to determine which word to use, and then replacing the pronoun with he, she, him, or her to see what makes sense.

Replace: he, she, they

Who made the cat-shaped pancakes?

She made the cat-shaped pancakes.

Replace: him, her, them

The cat-shaped pancakes were made by whom?

The pancakes were made by her.

Grammar mistakes are a sign of carelessness, a characteristic no PR professional wants to be associated with. Because of the many statements, press releases, and other publicized information PR departments disperse, all employees in the field should be well trained in typical grammatical  errors.

I was put in my place by the recent presentation I was given on grammar, and I appreciate the fact that I was called out on my mistakes. In order to become an exceptional PR professional, one must admit their mistakes and learn from them. Now it’s your turn to check yourself.

Negative Buzz

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What’s all the buzz about? If you haven’t heard the phrase before, then you quite possibly do not have cool parents such as my mother who frequents the five words. While I may not like to discuss what has been going on in my life with many people, I can always come to my mom, the one who tries to keep up with my life, with anything and receive advice.

General Mills could be served in following a philosophy such as mine, which is seeking advice before acting on a decision. The company recently went through a bit of a PR crisis, which possibly could have been avoided, in relation to their Honey Nut Cheerio cereal, a fan favorite if I do say so myself.

The organization launched their #BringBackTheBees campaign as an awareness strategy to save the honey bee. Alex Slater, author of an article, which discussed the issues the public had with the organization and this particular campaign, discussed the positive and negative behavior the company exuded as well as the negative buzz created by the public.

General Mills, as a way to #BringBackTheBees, distributed free seed packets across the country to help with the presence of honey bees in certain areas. The company’s PR professionals had quite a bit on their plate after some ecologists claimed the types of flower seeds sent out were invasive and possibly illegal in some states.

Just as any experienced PR professional would do, General Mills’ team headed straight to social media to reply to outraged customers with assurance that the seeds were approved by federal organizations. The Honey Nut Cheerio “crisis” was lessened by the quick responses, and the company avoided a major public reputation crusher.

Whether the seeds were really approved or the company made the claim up to save face, we may never know. I have realized just how important research is in the PR world because if you are making a statement or acting on a flawed foundation of ideas, the public will find out and quite possibly roast your organization alive. I have also learned a quick, apologetic, and accurate response to criticism may be the difference between a reputation save or reputation death.

BBC Interview PR Lessons

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Last week, as I was home for the last few days of my spring break, I shared some laughs with my mom as she made dinner. These laughs were not the common chuckles, but rather the laugh-so-hard-your-stomach-hurts laughs, which make you nervous your mouth might actually stay in the smiling position forever. I can attribute this special moment to a gentleman whose BBC Interview did not quite go the way he had planned.

I noticed the video of Professor Robert Kelly on Facebook, as it became a viral sensation quickly after the interview occurred. After watching the video of Kelly trying to keep a straight face as his children burst through the door and his wife tried to sneakily gather them and get them out of the room, I couldn’t help but share it on Facebook. The rest of the world needed to have the same painful laugh, which I had just experienced.

In a PR Daily article, by Cameron Craig, he compiles a few tips for PR professionals and their clients based on the BBC interview fiasco because life is unavoidably messy at times. Those in the PR field are trained to clean up those messes. His advice includes, but is not limited to:

1. Prepare –  One can never know when things aren’t going to go as planned. The only way to minimize the damages of unexpected scenarios is preparing for as many outcomes as possible. This also means going through each scenario to establish the best action/approach to an “unexpected” issue.

2. Mask the Nerves – While Professor Kelly hid the embarrassment from showing on his face, people can feel it as they view the video. My mind flooded with what I would choose to do in that situation, and, as a person who cannot hide emotions from her face, I became nervous for Kelly. Masking nervous nonverbals in this type of scenario will make you seem more in control of uncontrollable moments. Eye contact is the best way to ensure the purpose of a communication exchange is not lost.

3. Roll with the Punches – No one likes to be in an awkward situation. Professor Kelly played off the disturbance of his wife and children with apologies and a chuckle and moved on with his answer in the interview, which was probably the best he could do. PR professionals will find it in their clients’ best interests to warn them of an interviewer’s personality and questioning style, specifically if they are able to play off awkwardness.

4. Don’t Overreact – While Professor Kelly’s interview seemed to get out of hand, it was not the worst that could have happened. It is important to always keep the situation in perspective and focus on the positives. The interview video went viral, and now Kelly is famous, not a bad turn out if you ask me!

 

Professor Kelly’s interview was a mild situation as far as fails go, but the remnants of the video will be around for quite awhile on social media. PR professionals benefit from these types of problems, as it teaches them to always prepare for the unexpected and have plans in place when thing go of course.

Crucial Conversations

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Let’s talk about conflict… I will be the first person to admit that I absolutely hate conflict and will usually avoid it with every part of my being. As much as I try to avoid it, however, I can never escape conflict completely. It seems to arise in every aspect of my life, and I suppose I had better start learning to handle it correctly rather than being a wimp and hiding from it.

College has helped me with my conflict phobia over the last three years, as most of the sticky situations I have found myself in required some effort on my part to resolve conflict, my own and even other people’s. As a public relations/communications major and now a golf captain, conflict seems to be by my side at all times.

If you are any type of communications major, then you know very well how consumed your life is with group projects. I don’t go more than two days, it seems, without scheduling a time to meet with various groups for class projects. As a golf captain, I am responsible for resolving the few conflicts which may arise on my team, along with my co-captain.

Remember when I said I hate conflict? Well, I do, but I have learned the ways in which are best to handle these situations. I still do not like conflict, but I welcome it now and have had enough experiences with it that I no longer have a conflict phobia. One of the tools I have been using as a resource lately in my daily conflicts is the book entitled Crucial Conversations.

This book was a required read for one of my classes this semester, and I couldn’t be more thankful for the bits of advice I have taken from it. The main point of the book is people have to build up the courage to have those hard conversations, without getting emotions too heavily involved, which is an issue for many.

As a PR major and future professional, I will surely be faced with some crucial conversations, in which I may feel as though I need to voice my concerns or opinions. My job would be to preserve the reputation of my organization, but will I have the guts to fight a decision by my boss that I know will hinder that reputation. I would like to think I would, but at least I have the tools from this book in my back pocket in case I ever need them.

Every PR professional needs to read this book cover to cover, as it may save their organization and other people’s jobs one day in the future.

Research & Hand-Me-Downs

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Who doesn’t love a good hand-me-down? As a younger sister and the youngest grandchild with many cousins, you could say I have grown up in hand-me-down heaven. I have always been very thankful for the clothes, shoes, and other items I received from my family over the years, and even to this day. Not much makes me as happy as free stuff!

As the flow of hand-me-downs has decreased as I have grown up, I have dove into the wonderful wide world of thrift shops. While I have to pay for these hand-me- downs, the unique items and deals you can find in second-hand shops are endless! You can imagine my excitement when a Goodwill store opened right across the street from my apartment yesterday… A broke college girl’s dream come true.

What does research have to do with my weird obsession with bargains and thrift shopping, you ask? Well, as I was perusing the isles of my new favorite place in Bourbonnais, I couldn’t help but think about my upcoming public relations campaign. My group and I have been doing research as supporting evidence for our campaign ideas, both primary and secondary.

If you don’t know the difference between the two, primary research is conducted first-hand, while secondary research is taking information from studies and campaigns done by other people. You can imagine the epiphany, which almost knocked me off of my average sized feet in the middle of the pants isle in Goodwill when I made the connection between secondary research and hand-me-down clothing…

I was searching for items that other people had gone out, purchased, and worn themselves yesterday. Just the day before I was searching for information other people had gone out, collected, and published for my group’s campaign. This may have been the most helpful analogy I have ever created. I now can better understand the difference between primary and secondary research, and I hope this clears up some confusion for the rest of you.

Research is crucial in the world of public relations. Why take the risk of trying a strategy when you could research if it has been successful or not in the past? Primary, and mostly secondary, research can save PR professionals time, money, and extra efforts in the planning and execution of campaigns.

Learn to love hand-me-downs!

Starbucks Refugee Crisis

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Why is Starbucks so popular? If you ask my college golf coach, then you would be told that the coffee is second to none, coming from a man who purchases almost 4 cups a day. I personally cannot tell the difference between Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks beside the fact one has a happy hour, which I can afford as a poor college student.

Die hard Starbucks supporters, who wouldn’t be caught dead at any other coffee shop, such as my coach, have been not been wavered throughout the recent Starbucks refugee crisis. While the organization has received some backlash, such as boycotts, after announcing a plan to employ foreign refugees, most supporters have made the situation a joke and express happiness for shorter lines at their beloved coffee shops.

PR Daily’s Keven Allen reported on the PR crisis and how Starbucks approached the topic with the public. The main issue people seem to be having is the disregard for President Trump’s new refugee ban and the fact that American veterans should be receiving the jobs instead of foreigners. Both are valid points, but what the public seems to be forgetting is Starbucks has employed 8,000 veterans since 2014.

Howard Schultz, Starbucks CEO, made sure his employees knew the organization’s stance on the refugee ban, and the opinion that they would not be supporting it. Schultz wrote to his people, “we are living in an unprecedented time, one in which we are witness to the conscience of our country, and the promise of the American Dream, being called into question.”

While the CEO’s motives are being seen as “anti-American,” Schultz seems to have his heart in a place where others should, a place of deep concern for those suffering around the world. Now how will Starbucks’ reputation suffer from this crisis? Allen seems to think not so significantly, as the support for the organization is much greater than the recent scrutiny.

Starbucks will continue to have long lines and bring in ungodly amounts of money, even through a period of backlash. Howard Schultz seems to be doing alright if you ask me, and his PR team will be resting easy after the social media buzz blows over.