An Education

These are my PR Writing Class posts

Bustwriters, Writebusters and Ghostwriting or something.

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Ghostwriter.

Not the early 90’s PBS children’s mystery television show, but a ghostwriter as in one who does ghostwriting.

Ghostwriting is when a writer writes content that is officially credited to another person. Many public figures, artists, organizations and even writers use ghostwriters. A ghostwriter can have varying degrees of involvement in the production of work – from editing to actually doing all of the writing.

What’s your take on Ghostwriting in 2015?

Ghostwriting is a legitimate, recognized profession. The Writers Union of Canada actually maintains a list of members who are willing to do ghost writing.

In class we discussed the ethical considerations of ghostwriting.

The main issues being with transparency, honesty and ownership.

One of the questions asked was: Are you being honest with your audience?

I’m conflicted. To me, ghostwriting is just like any other business transaction. If you’re a good ghostwriter, shouldn’t the end result be that no one can tell what you wrote was written by anyone other than the credited author?

If a ghostwriter was able to effectively get “in the mind” of a person/organization and craft written content that was true to their vision and voice, is that dishonest?JAMES

I don’t know.

What do I do know, is that I certainly felt cheated when I found out James Patterson’s books are written by a ‘team’ of people… but it’s very clearly his name dominating every book cover.

The following are two examples of effective and ineffective ghostwriting under the premise of transparency and honesty.

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Rebels: City of Indra – Young Adults Novel

By Kendall & Kylie Jenner (Ghostwritten by Maya Sloan)

Kendall and Kylie Jenner are the credited authors of this young adults novel, but the two sisters didn’t actually write the book. This “revelation” stirred some controversy online with many calling out the girls for being frauds and whatnot. However, in this case, Kendall and Kylie never claimed to be sole authors of this book and regularly acknowledged the team that helped them write the book. In fact, Maya Sloan, the ghostwriter, did a lot of interviews with the sisters, photo-ops and is mentioned in the title pages of the book. In this case, there was a lot of  transparency regarding the creative process.

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Girl Online – Young Adults Novel

By Zoe Sugg (Ghostwritten by Siobhan Curham)

This was the debut novel of English internet celebrity Zoe Sugg. Zoe Sugg is a fashion and beauty video blogger and a popular internet personality. Allegations surfaced that the book was ghostwritten and sparked a social media frenzy. Unlike Kendall and Kylie’s book, Zoe did all promotions for the novel and took full credit as author. It wasn’t until the allegations surfaced that Zoe made mention of a collaborative team. She only later admitted to being given “help” in writing the book. Although she insisted the story and characters were hers, the damage was already done. Fans felt lied to and began to question her authenticity. Zoe’s ghostwriter Siobhan Curham was not able to give details about her involvement due to legal reasons, thus increasing the cloud hanging over the project, and “author” Zoe Sugg.

Like I said, i’ve yet to fully develop an opinion on this whole “is Ghostwriting ethical” question. As someone who struggles in the art of written word, I happened to land upon a great Forbes article that sums up all the jumbled thoughts I had on the topic. It’s as though the article was ghost written for me.

There’s some good stuff up there (up there being my brain)… It just needs some help getting out… who am I gonna call?

Ghostwriter?

– MC

Pitch It, Pitch It Real Good.

The task at hand today is to deliver 3 pitches based off our internship roles. My internship will take place at the office of Mr. Todd Smith, MPP for Prince Edward-Hastings.

What does a pitch entail?

Well, a pitch is a story idea, but not just any story – a story that is relevant to the media source in question and of value to their audience. The pitch itself should explain the aforementioned, and should explain it clearly and quickly.

So here goes!


TARGETED MEDIA: Loyalist College – On Campus Blog

STORY IDEA: Review of Internship at office of Todd Smith, MPP – This article would be an internship reflection from Public Relations student -Maria Menjivar. Maria would discuss the relevant work experience she obtained at the office of Mr. Todd Smith, MPP. She would talk about the importance of having a supportive internship and a good mentor, as well as how she believes this internship opportunity will help her with her professional development.

TARGETED MEDIA: Inside Belleville (Metroland Media) – Community Section

STORY IDEA: Regular Column featuring activities from MPP’s Office

What exactly does a Member of Provincial Parliament do?

How do you become one?

What role do they play?

These are many of the questions I’ve been asked since sharing the news of my internship. I’ve come to learn that many residents, myself included, aren’t fully aware of the role and responsibilities of a Member of Provincial Parliament.

I think it would be relevant and informative for local residents to have a regular column they can read featuring the “going-on’s” of our elected MPP’s office. The column would highlight services offered though the MPP’s office, individual stories of people who have been assisted by the MPP’s office, as well as highlights of Mr. Smith’s work at Queens Park. As residents of Prince Edward-Hastings, it’s important for us to know how we are being supported and represented by our MPP, and to know that he is accessible and transparent in his work.

TARGETED MEDIA: Lasting Connections – Loyalist College Alumni publication.

STORY IDEA:  Todd Smith, Alumni Profile – Todd Smith is not only a proud graduate of the Loyalist College Radio Broadcasting program, but has also been a strong supporter of the college and students. He has served as a member of the College’s Broadcast Journalism advisory committee and also the Journalism-Online, Print and Broadcast program. Prior to his role as MPP, Mr. Smith led a successful career in his chosen field having held the position of News Director for Quinte Broadcasting. This story will highlight the road to Mr. Smith’s professional success, contain advice and tips, and also feature fun anecdotes of lessons learned along the way.

– MC

Mission.Vision.Values.

 MISSION

My mission is to lead a happy, full and balanced life, where there is continued opportunity for spiritual, personal and intellectual growth.

VISION

Living a life of fun and excitement as I seek to make the most of every moment. I am a person in tune with the many facets of my being who inexcusably pursues a balanced life with my career, friends and family. I am someone who looks at the positive in all of life’s challenges, and hopefully makes a difference in the lives of others by sharing these experiences.

VALUES

  1. I value continuous learning, because knowledge is power
  2. I value doing the right thing, no matter what
  3. I value hard work and going the extra mile
  4. I value my family, my friends and my church
  5. I value kindness and compassion towards all people
  6. I value positive and healthy relationships that challenge and encourage me

My post about ‘anything’.

Write a post about anything you want. 

Write about anything I want. Anything. I want.

What do I want to write about?

I don’t know!

Funny what creative freedom can do.

Also funny, that someone who normally has no shortage of words – spoken words that is – can find nothing to write about.

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(That someone is me in case you were wondering)

It’s ironic how the gift of gab doesn’t translate into the gift of writing.

I wonder why that is.

In the time I’ve spent overthinking this blog post, I’ve come to realize that for me it’s more about the fear of putting it all out there.

When you’re speaking words out loud, they are usually with someone in the form of a conversation. You’re telling a story, sharing ideas, giving an opinion. .

Conversations can be heated. Casual. Silly. Meaningless. It’s fun. I love talking. I love listening to others perspectives and understanding their views. It’s a dialogue.

But in writing – you’re really putting it all out there for everyone to read. To absorb. To take in.

I’ve written an idea before. A feeling. Only to read it later and realize writing-1024x1024that’s not what I really meant. In conversation there is room to clarify, explain, elaborate – but somehow writing it makes it more… concrete.

Okay, maybe it’s not so much about writing it, but more so writing and hitting the blue publish button on the upper right hand side of your screen.

But I guess that’s the point. When you’re writing, before you hit publish, before you submit your paper to your professor for marking, before you hand over your media kit to a journalist, the question isn’t “can you write”? The question is “did you tell your story?” and most importantly, “was your story received?”

I was wrong to call conversations meaningless. They aren’t. Every time we interact with someone, we tell them a bit of our own story with how we interacted with them.

How well did you communicate?

Communication.

That’s what it all comes down to. Effective communication is certainly not a one way street.

What are you saying? Why are you saying it? Who are you saying it to?

What’s your message? Who is your audience? Why do they care?

Are you clear? Does it make sense? Can you say it better?

These are all questions i’ve been asked to ponder in my writing class. But these are also all questions we should have ourselves when we are talking to others. As future PR professionals and business communicators – it’s important to make sure we not only writing with purpose, but also speaking with purpose. You never know what story you’re telling.

 

– MC

On Annual Reports… yay.

Pick an Annual Report from an organization that you are interested in. Write about why the Annual Report is relevant to the success of that business in 2014 and beyond.

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You can find McDonald’s annual reports dating back to 2010 in PDF format on their website. In the name of research I took a look at all 13 that were available – but will be addressing the 2013 one in this post.

I realize the blog question is not regarding presentation style, but considering we looked at print, video and “interactive” reports in class, I will briefly mention that:

In the past, you can see McDonalds used a magazine style structure and used a lot of images, infographics, stories, and pictures of executives and employees to tell their story. This was interwoven with the mandatory and dry financial reports and corporate structure breakdowns. McDonald’s has moved away from this model over the years, so much so that in the 2013 report there isn’t even a picture of the CEO or Chairman.

So – why is this annual report relevant to McDonald’s?

Because it’s McDonald’s opportunity to tell it’s story of the year passed to investors.

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According to the 2013 report, McDonald’s did not have a successful year.

The Golden Arches experienced marginal sales and share growth.

Here, is where McDonald’s corporation can specifically address and elaborate on the data and meaning behind the numbers. In an annual report, McDonalds is able to alleviate shareholder concern by explaining what happened, what they’re doing about it, and what to expect in the future.

100_ml_rm_c_lHere, investors can hear directly from the CEO and Chairman. In the 2013 Annual Report, the message is one of confidence in past performance. Both men bring perspective to the situation by reminding their audience of McDonald’s strong history, it’s mission, and the companies successful business model that has consistently yielded results. They bring a voice of assurance for the year to come and remind shareholders that McDonald’s is strong in a challenging industry.

Through this report McDonalds is able to put perspective on the data and highlight the positives within the corporation. They are able to address specific shareholder concerns and explain the low performance, the plan, and what to expect in the future.

– MC

On Our Guest Speaker

Write about something you learned from Leona that is interesting to you.

Yesterday we had special guest Leona Hobbs come and speak to our post graduate Public Relations class.

Who is Leona?

Leona Hobbs is a Toronto-based marketing and communications professional with expertise in social media and digital marketing. She is a graduate of Loyalist College and has spent time in leading global PR firm Fleishman-Hillard Canada Inc. as Vice President of Marketing Communications plus much, much, much more.

The question being posed today is: what did I learn from Leona that is interesting to me?

Leona talked a bout a variety of topics yesterday related to Converged Digital Marketing. What does this mean? Unfortunately, I cannot explain that in a single blog post, nor do I intend to.

While she presented a lot of useful, informative, and relevant information to the class, what stuck with me was Leona’s confidence.

And that is the resounding message I left with. Confidence.

Having confidence in myself.

Confidence in my skills.

Confidence in my work.

Confidence in my abilities.

Confidence in the value of my work.

Leona is a woman with 15 years of experience behind her. She has years of expertise and knowledge. She has learned through work experience and also self-teaching. She has stayed on top of emerging trends and technologies. She has grown with an ever-changing industry and has a reputation that has allowed her work with some pretty sweet brands and clients like Maple Leaf Foods, Sony PlayStation, Ford Motor Company, CNN, and more. (You can read up on Leona on her linked in profile)

She is inexcusably self-assured and cool… and I like it. No actually, I love it.

A lot of times I find myself putting into question what I know I know.

This ladies and gentlemen, is called insecurity.

I realize that I am still growing and learning as I make my way through the Public Relations Program. I know that the more I put into practice the things we are learning in class, the more secure I’ll be when executing tasks. But having confidence in what I do know RIGHT NOW is still important.

This was highlighted even more when discussing the art & science of pricing.

Leona showed us a pricing sheet and a statement of work she presented to a potential client. She didn’t get the business. And she was totally fine with that.

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I know that right now as a student I’ve already worked on projects that have been successful and yielded quantifiable results. I know that I will continue to expand my skills as I gain further educational and professional experience. I also hope to put these skills to use in the organizations where I volunteer.

Not everyone is going to understand what I do as a Public Relations professional – and that’s totally cool.

But like Leona, I plan on having confidence in my work, it’s value and it’s worth.

Brand Journalism

Find one great example of Brand Journalism. Who created the content? Who is the audience? 
What are they trying to get the audience into? Why is it effective?

You’re probably wondering what exactly brand journalism is.

Brand journalism is not a commercial telling you to buy a specific product.

Instead, brand journalism is a company’s attempt to connect with their specific audiences by providing a collection of quality content. This can be through print, photo or video that is valuable to you, their customer.

Simply put, brand journalism is a company’s attempt to tell their brand story.

What am I talking about?

Well let’s take a look at Aldo Shoes’ blog – ‘A/ Blog’

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This blog is just one of the many social media platforms that Aldo Shoes uses to connect with their customers and is a very good example of brand journalism.

This blog is created by the Aldo Shoes team. The audience is men and women who are into fashion. Aldo Shoes is known for carrying the most current high fashion trends in shoes in accessories at an affordable price.

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One quick look at this blog and you’ll see it reads exactly the same as the online version of any fashion magazine. Here are screen grabs from the fashion section of Flare Canada and Elle Canada websites for comparison.

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The Aldo blog doesn’t focus directly on Aldo Shoes – although yes the Aldo twitter feed and a link to the Aldo website are clearly visible.

But instead of selling shoes to their readers, they focus on sharing a variety of stories pertaining to fashion, trends, lifestyle, food, travel, and behind the scenes material. As someone within Aldo’s target demographic, this blog certainly appeals to me.

On Aldo’s ‘A/Blog ‘ there are:

  • A lot of photos for visual reference and inspiration
  • Fashion tips for putting entire outfits together.
  • Articles discussing the latest fashion trends and how to wear these trends everyday.
  • Highlights on the arts community throughout Canada
  • Pieces on cool events that Aldo team members across Canada have attended and been a part of
  • Access to behind the scenes footage (photoshoots, fashion shows, employee award ceremony’s and much more)

A personal favorite is the “Toe-to-Toe” series. Here, two Aldo employees with completely different styles rock the same pair of shoes. This really connects with me as it shows me the versatility of an item and also gives me ideas on how to wear items I already own… or at least motivates me to try an item I may have been hesitant about. And no, it isn’t always an Aldo product I had in mind.

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There are Aldo fanatics throughout every social media platform who not only have access to the latest fashion and lifestyle tips, advice, articles and trends, but are also able to share with Aldo and to other Aldo shoppers their personal experiences with the company and product.

The greatest draw in my opinion, having visited many of Aldo’s online profiles, is the fact that customers are able to connect with the images that Aldo is putting out there. These are products customers can actually purchase – at Aldo or elsewhere. They are the most current trends that they can afford and styles that they can actually emulate.

I believe that Aldo has successfully created a seamless fashion & lifestyle community online for their shoppers. Through their blog and other social media profiles they are able to provide exclusive type content to their everyday shoppers.Having access to such material  has certainly kept me coming back for more – online and in store.

Brand Journalism – mission accomplished.

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Media Kits

   Find an online media kit and write about it.
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The Visa online media kit for their ‘Visa Apple Pay’ service it pretty simple and basic and contains the following elements:

Press Release

Backgrounder in the form of a Blog Post

Graphics

There are actually two press releases here.

First: Announcement of product to come

Second: Announcement of product not launched

There are three links to the Visa Tech Blog which it seems is being used as their “backgrounder” where more detailed information is available about the partnership and about how the services work.

The Visa corporate logo is available for download and use. There are also photos of the Visa Apple Pay being used on an iPhone through a series of staged photos.

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Is This News?

Yes, this is absolutely news.

The news is the launch of this partnership between Visa and Apple. Visa was announcing a new service that allowed customers to make mobile payment directly through iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and Apple Watch. This was definetly news worthy as there was a lot of rumours and media coverage leading up to the launch of the new iPhone with regards to what new features the device would carry. There was a lot of interest in this new capability. This was definetly news worthy to the tech, financial , retail and telecom sectors.

The second release addressed the service having now launched, and actually addressed setting up Apple Pay, how to make a payment, and safety issues.

Strengths and Weaknesses of the Kit?

I think the kit is strong.

It is very short. The messages are to the point.

In the press release they addressed the partnership, the technology, and the upcoming launch concisely. You were able to obtain more in depth information if needed on their Visa Tech Blog.

The press release wasn’t lost in technical jargon, and I personally was able to understand fully the new service they were offering their users and why it would be relevant to me.

– MC

On Internal Communications

Find a company that does Internal Communications exceptionally well and write a blog post about why it’s important to them.

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TD Bank is regularly listed as on of the top employer in Canada. TD Bank is extremely focused on employee engagement. They want to be Canada’s employer and bank of choice. By having an excellent internal communication strategy, employees have immediate access to information, open communication with management; they are socially engaged and connected. This not only creates a positive work environment, but also helps to build employee trust and loyalty to the company.

In 2014, TD made the cut on the following lists:

Canada’s Top 100 Employers
Financial Post’s Ten Best Companies to Work For
Greater Toronto’s Top 2014 Employers
Canada’s 50 Best Employers 2014 from Maclean’s

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There are a number of criteria that must be met in order to receive such recognition.

According to The Best Companies to Work For competition, TD Bank’s work atmosphere, communications and employee engagement is rated as “exceptionalA+”

Let’s look at the role of internal communications as discussed in class, and how TD measures up.

Role of Internal communications

  • To inform employees about management decisions and business activities
  • To build confidence in management and the organization
  • To combat rumours and misunderstandings
  • To encourage internal cooperation and excellence
  • To recognize employee achievements
  • To promote employee well-being and safety
  • To generate employee pride

If you hit up the TD Bank website and click on the workplace tab, you will immediately see a page titled ‘Communications & Recognition’. Here, you can read up on how TD addresses the top 3 objectives of internal communications.

You can all also read here under ‘Employee Engagement’ on other employee celebration and recognition initiatives.  You can read up on their employee and management review methods. You can read about TD’s in-house surveys and how they seek outside consult every 6 months to ensure they have a good understanding of what’s happening with their people.

TD also offers a variety of training, education & development programs. They have invested over $67 million in training support last year.

TD Bank is one of Canada’s largest corporate donors. They support a variety of local and national charitable initiatives, directing millions of dollars to charities and non-profit agencies every year ($45.3 million last year).

There are a variety of other endeavors taken on by TD to promote a positive work culture. Many of these initiatives don’t work on their own, but rather as a part of a collaborative integrated HR & communications effort. With effort, TD has proven their internal communications tactics successful and has earned a reputation of being a top employer in Canada.

– MC