Celebrating, Remembering, and Fighting Back With Infographics

This past year, I worked as sponsorship chair for the University of Oregon Relay for Life. I am passionate about Relay’s mission to fight cancer, so when I was assigned to create an infographic for one of my public relations classes, the subject was an easy choice.

In such an information-heavy society, it can be hard to break through the clutter and present information in a way that sticks. Infographics are a great way to do just that. Infographics break down complex data in a way that is easy to comprehend. The visual nature of infographics is also useful for holding an audience’s attention.

Brian Compton from LEWIS PR emphasizes this point in a blog post, writing, “…when it comes down to execution, PR professionals need to retrain their brains to think like designers and understand how a design motif will help carry a message.”

After creating my infographic in Piktochart, I picked up a few tips:

  • Know your audience
  • Don’t try to do too much at once
  • Maintain a uniform color scheme
  • Refrain from using too many type faces
  • Break numbers down in a way that relates to the audience

You can check out my Relay for Life infographic below:

Relay Infographic


Maximizing Social Media

1Recently, a friend of mine explained to me why he doesn’t use Twitter. “I don’t need to hear what people are doing every minute of the day,” he said.

As public relations professionals, we shake our heads because we know that anyone who is using Twitter as a diary is using it incorrectly.

Still, many people (and companies) are skeptical of the usefulness of social media, although it can be a powerful branding, marketing and connecting tool for businesses. This term in J452, we explored a great way to combat that theory and analyze the effectiveness of social media: measurement.

In groups, we selected a company and then used various measurement tools to determine the effectiveness of that company’s social media platforms. My group chose Sock It to Me, a local Portland company. Sock It to Me uses Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest to interact with fans and share quirky content.

We used MyTopTweet, Simply Measured, Social Mention, Statigram, and TweetLevel to quantify the data, which were displayed in graph format. Visually representing the information in this way not only made it easier to comprehend but also gave it credibility.

We not only analyzed Sock It to Me’s social media usage but also that of three competitors: Happy Socks, K.Bell, and Gumball Poodle. Social media measurement is valuable, but it is even more valuable when placed in the context of competition.

One of the biggest takeaways from this assignment was the importance of sharing information that directly relates to the customer. For example, Sock It to Me hosted a “Sock Exchange” in which customers could swap out their current sock for a brand new pair of Sock It to Me’s. The customers then modeled the socks for a photo on Instagram. Fan engagement for this event was high and overwhelmingly positive as people tagged themselves and commented about the event. However, posts that were too abstract or did not directly affect the customer received little interaction.

Fifteen Minutes With Bread and Butter PR’s Samantha Luthra

ImageRecently, I had the opportunity to speak with Samantha Luthra from Bread and Butter PR, a boutique hospitality firm in Los Angeles. Samantha, who graduated from the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication, began working at the firm only a week after graduation. She let me in on a few industry secrets and tips for breaking into the fast-paced world of hospitality PR. Check out these three highlights from our chat.

1. Bigger isn’t always better.

Originally, Samantha had hopes to work in a larger PR agency. However, when she received a job at Bread and Butter, which employs six people out of its Los Angeles office, she realized the benefits of a small firm. Although she often collaborates with coworkers, Samantha makes many decisions on her own and does not deal with the bureaucracy that can come with working at a big agency. While this leaves more room for error, it also allows for greater personal success.

“I have friends who are working at big agencies, and they’re doing work that I would have my interns do,” she explained. “I get to secure press hits and take credit for them, which is nice.”

2. Be interested and have a digital footprint that proves it.

When breaking into any area of public relations, Samantha advises that aspiring professionals establish an online presence. Employers want to hire candidates who care about the work they do, and a digital footprint that demonstrates interest can help job seekers get a foot in the door. If you’re interested in food, for example, you should be tweeting about it. Otherwise, your application seems inauthentic.

At the same time, don’t only focus on the industry you want to break into – showcase your personality as well. “I have to hang out with our interns all day,” says Samantha. “I don’t want to hire someone unless they seem like a genuine person.”

3. When in doubt, network.

Samantha doesn’t spend as much time at her desk as one might think. Instead of pitching clients through email, she often takes them out to lunch or happy hour to establish a personal connection. She finds that working with media and clients face-to-face is fun for both parties involved and creates an effective partnership.

It isn’t hard to see that Samantha Luthra enjoys what she does. Hospitality PR has allowed her to take creative initiative and work with exciting clients. “It’s not like tech PR,” she said. “There’s only so much you can do with a microchip, but the clients I work with leave me a lot of room to have fun.”

Spring Cleaning: A Fresh Focus

photoHello again to those of you who have been following my blog, and welcome to those who are new readers.

In the past, I have enjoyed blogging about a variety of my interests including fashion, leadership and business; however, now it’s time for a clear focus. While writing about a wide range of topics has helped me to grow as a person and develop a sense of identity, I will now  concentrate on an area that I hope to enter after graduation: public relations. I am interested in both hospitality and technology public relations and will be exploring those niches.

Public relations is an evolving industry, and I hope to use this blog to contribute my voice to the conversation. I am excited to begin this journey with you!

5 Personal Branding Tips for an Undergraduate Student

In elementary school, the essays that we wrote were scored on the following 4 categories: organization, spelling/grammar, content, and voice. I never failed to take advantage of the “voice” category, incorporating dry sarcasm and sassy commentary into every paragraph to show off my personality. When I think of personal branding now, I am reminded of the voice category of that 4-part rubric. Like successful elementary school essays, much of establishing who we are has to do with simply presenting information about ourselves in a certain light and doing so without grammatical errors. As a college student, especially within the communications field, personal branding is absolutely critical and all too easy to get wrong. If you’re looking to establish or clean up your image, start with the tips below.

    Obviously this isn’t something Generation Y hears all too often, as we have no problem getting on the web. However, just being online isn’t enough. It’s crucial to not only have a presence on Facebook and Twitter, but also to be active on LinkedIn, WordPress (yes-everyone should be blogging!), and Youtube if possible. Vlogging (video blogging) paired with blogging creates an immense social network that could come in handy later, and it provides a way for potential employers and clients to get a sense of who you are without ever talking to you. Be connected everywhere, and post often. Unless you have reason to be concerned for your safety, keep everything public. Keep your name, face, and brand fresh in every online community.
    Now that you’re on a number of platforms, you need to decide what topics you plan to cover. The more specific, the better. People like reading about things that interest them, and maintaining a uniform theme throughout all of your sites makes it easy for an audience to identify what you’re all about and whether they’re interested. Pick a topic that you enjoy-something that you wouldn’t mind writing about, speaking about, and researching. If you’re not sure what inspires you, ask your friends! You’d be surprised at how easily they can identify interests that you never realized you had.
    Become an expert in your chosen field. No one will seek you out unless you can provide a fresh perspective. Research before you write, and reread before you post. Stay on the lookout for trends or controversies, and always offer your perspective. Be the wise sage of your industry, and people can’t ignore you.
    This is where many 20-somethings fail miserably. It is important to show who you are-that’s the whole point of personal branding. If you’re witty, be witty. If you’re pessimistic, be pessimistic. If you’re overdramatic, great! Show it! However, there is a fine line between showing your true colors and oversharing. I think this can best be explained with examples, and Inc.com has a few hilarious ones. Check them out here and then never repeat them. When in doubt, follow the “grandmother” rule-if you wouldn’t want your sweet, innocent grandmother (or your boss) to read it…don’t post it. It’s as simple as that.
    Don’t forget that others are trying to establish their brand as well, and everyone appreciates an encouraging comment or two. Follow others in your industry and make friends with those that have established a strong presence as well as other up-and-comers. Insightful comments are always appreciated and usually reciprocated, so don’t forget to scratch your neighbor’s backs. They’ll scratch yours!

Now, check out this clip from personal branding guru, William Arruda. Clearly, he knows a thing or two.

“Effective branding is based on authenticity…Your brand is based on who you really are-your best self.”

“Do you leave your mark on everything you do?…And if you don’t, how can you?”