PRWritings

Stuff from my PR Writing class

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

Arch Enemies of Good Writing

Write a brief (200-300 words) blog post about the one spelling or grammar hang-up that you have and can’t shake or that you find the most annoying in other people

I am by no means a grammar nazi, nor a grammar hound. I’m a grammar nothing.

All I know is that when I hear this used in conversation or see it in writing, I cringe. My brain screams, “Stop!”

My pet peeve stems around the misuse of Saw and Seen.

INCORRECT:

“Hey Maria! I seen you at Starbucks last night.”seen

“The last time I seen Jonny, he looked taller.”

“I seen the movie three times.”

CORRECT:

“Hey Maria! I saw you at Starbucks last night”

“The last I time I saw Jonny, he looked taller”

“I have seen the movie three times” or “I saw the movie three times”

Before I continue, allow me to confess that I did in fact have to Google the technical term for this grammatical error… Again, I’m no English scholar. I just inherently know when to say “seen” or “saw”.

I will admit to previously having little sympathy towards misusers of the word, but after my search yielded literally thousands of articles, forums, groups, Facebook pages and blogs dedicated to the shaming of those who just can’t grasp the concept, my heart was softened.

In fact, I even began to question if I was using seen and saw in the proper context.

Don’t worry though. You can take a quick quiz here and test your understanding of the English language.

If you got 100% like I did, congradulations. Lets be friends.

If not, then lets continue on.

My google search led me to a Grammar Guide blog. This blogger very kindly lays out the verb tense of saw/seen for a quick review.
PAST TENSE
I saw, you saw, he/she/it saw, we saw, you saw, they saw
 PRESENT PERFECT
I have seen, you have seen, he/she/it has seen, we have seen, you have seen, they have seen
 PAST PERFECT
I had seen, you had seen, he/she/it had seen, we had seen, you had seen, they had seen
 FUTURE PERFECT
I/you will have seen, he/she/it will have seen, we shall have seen, you will have seen, they will have seen

Personally, I wouldn’t get caught up in all the grammatical terminology.

To put it simply:

ALWAYS use “saw” in past tense (see above)

ONLY use “Seen” with “have,” “has,” or “had.

– MC

On becoming a better writer than I am today.

Writing is not one of my natural gifts or abilities. High school creative writing class was my hell. I managed it well. Drafts. Early submissions. Edits. Revisions.

Chicagoland Writing Centers, University of California San Diego

Chicagoland Writing Centers, University of California San Diego

When I went to college for Paralegal studies, I was happy to learn it was time to kick that style to the curb.

Facts only? You got it.

Short, concise and emotionally disconnected? No problem.

From passed legal and professional experience I know I can relay factual information and data to people, however I want to be able to deliver a more personal message.

In this program, I want to learn how to take ownership of what I have to say. Excuse the corny-ness… but I want to find my voice.

 I want to learn how to convey emotion and feeling in my writing. I want to express things in a way that resonates with readers. I want my words to have the power to encourage, to motivate and to connect people.

I know it’s possible for me to achieve the above.

But Ikeep-calm-and-write think with me, it’s a matter of just relaxing and taking a breath.

I get caught up in my head.

I over think the writing process.

My thoughts don’t make it to the pen or keyboard.

I compare my writing to others and I become extremely self-critical.

Here’s to learning, letting go, and gaining confidence.

– MC

 

The First of Many

Welcome to my blog. This is my first blog post ever.

243461_10150203612357895_3477794_oEver.

I’m oddly nervous. I’m sure i’ll be okay.

I have a tumultuous relationship with technology, so how long it will take for me to become comfortable with WordPress is yet to be determined. Please, bare with me 🙂

I’m currently in a post grad Public Relations program at Loyalist College. For now, what you’ll see here will be entries for my PR writing class.

I hope to carry on with this blog – highlighting my crazy life with my kids & friends in the Friendly City of Belleville, Ontario.

Anyways, I hope you enjoy this journey!

– MC