Reach Public Relations benefits the Big Buddy Program through a service-learning course

By Kelsey King, account executive

As members of Reach Public Relations, we learned a great deal about working with each other and our client the Big Buddy Program while creating a full public relations campaign throughout this semester in a service-learning course.

Our client aims to give economically, emotionally or educationally disadvantaged children a bright future by giving them a positive role model through a mentoring program. The organization served the community for more than 35 years and reached out to our agency for assistance in reaching a very specific audience.

Our campaign focuses on rekindling a mutually beneficial relationship between the Big Buddy Program and past employees, mentors, mentees, volunteers, etc. Big Buddy refers to these people as Legacies. Reach PR is helping Big Buddy find these Legacies within the Baton Rouge community and reach out to them to encourage them to give back to the organization through donating or volunteering.

This experience allowed us to complete each aspect of the ROPES process, allowing us to complete a one-year campaign to assist the Big Buddy Program. The campaign consists of strategic ways to reach out to the Legacies through social media, direct mail, traditional media outlets and more.

We kicked off the campaign by hosting a bingo event that would be appealing to both Legacies and current members of the Big Buddy Program. We were thrilled to have mentors, mentees, LSU students and others in the Baton Rouge community attend the event.

We knew we were successful in our client’s eye when she spoke at the end of our kickoff campaign event. She shared how pleased she is with our work and how thankful the program is for having us assist them in reaching an untouched audience.

The opportunity to work for a “real client” that serves the community not only gave us real word experience in public relations, but it also gave us a better understanding of social issues in our community and our civic responsibility. We realize the importance of programs like Big Buddy and the services it offers to the children in the Baton Rouge area.

This experience also taught our agency how to work with others with a variety of personality traits. Not only did our five agency members learn to work with each other’s personality types, but we also learned our client’s personality and communication styles to complete each step of the campaign effectively and efficiently.

For more information on the Big Buddy Program, visit their website and Facebook.

Kelsey King is the account executive for Reach Public Relations. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Working professionally and ethically with Big Buddy

By Ellen Leonards, writing director

Working professionally and ethically go hand in hand in the field of public relations (PR). According to the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), “all public relations professionals should look to [the code of ethics] as a model of professional behavior.” The most effective PR practitioners are the ones who understand the importance of simultaneously working professionally and ethically. The Big Buddy Program is one example of an organization that is both professional and ethical.

 Professionalism

Professionalism, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is “the skill, good judgment and polite behavior that is expected from a person who is trained to do a job well.” In the field of PR, it is vital to work professionally at all times – from the way practitioners dress to the way they communicate.

Working with Big Buddy this semester taught us the importance of working professionally with a client, as well as with potential donors and sponsors for our event “Bingo with Big Buddy” on Sunday, April 26. The more professional you are, the more likely businesses and businesspeople are to donate or contribute in some way. Whether we spoke to them over the phone, in person or through email, we handled every situation as professionally as possible. In addition, Big Buddy employees showed us by example that working professionally is effective. Although we are college students, they treated us like any other adult in the real world and took us very seriously while working on this campaign.

 Ethics

Ethics, as defined by Merriam-Webster, are “rules of behavior on ideas about what is morally good and bad.” Most PR practitioners live and breathe the PRSA code of ethics, which helps them perform their ethical duties. As previously mentioned in the blog post, “Big Buddy and the big world of PR: professional and ethical values,” PRSA has six professional values: advocacy, honesty, expertise, independence, loyalty and fairness.

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Photo source: http://www.prsa.org/aboutprsa/ethics/#.VTV-hXqm6WU

In the field of PR, many perplexing ethical issues arise. In order to protect the public, PR practitioners must always consider ethical standards in their day-to-day duties. In fact, PRSA claims, “ethical practice is the most important obligation of a PRSA member.”

The Big Buddy Program works with a diverse group of genders, races, social classes and religious groups. It is highly important for Big Buddy to remain ethical when reaching out to these people on a daily basis, whether it is through the media or in person. In order for the program to remain respected by the community, Big Buddy must continue to practice ethical standards.

To learn more about the Big Buddy Program, please visit their website and Facebook page.

Ellen Leonards is from Crowley, La. She is currently studying mass communication with a concentration in public relations at Louisiana State University. She will graduate in May 2015. Following graduation, she plans to attend graduate school at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where she will earn her Master’s in business administration.

Connect with Ellen on Facebook or Twitter!

Evaluating our Big Buddy Legacy campaign

By: Bianca Zaragoza, creative director

The fourth step in the public relation process is evaluation. Unfortunately, public relations (PR) professionals sometimes ignore or dread this step because they think that measurement means more work.

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After researching, defining objectives and programming a campaign, it is completely normal to be exhausted and to see the evaluation step as more work. Sure, it is more work up front but less work in the end.

According to Penn Strategies, there are four reasons why evaluation is important-

  • Measure results against stated objectives
  • Determine observable impact
  • Document resources and efforts
  • Improve future campaigns and programs

Evaluation leads to data-driven decisions, which saves time and money during a campaign. It helps allocate budget and staff to parts of the campaign, event or program that need it most. Evaluation reveals strengths and weaknesses and allows a PR professional to see where a significant amount of money is going into but not generating the level of success desired.

When speaking of evaluation, many professionals speak of key performance indicators, outputs, outtakes and outcomes. Below is a brief description of each:

  • KPIs – business metric used to evaluate factors that are crucial to the success of an organization
  • Outputs – activities that have been undertaken in the PR campaign (e.g., calling people, executing events and getting a message out)
  • Outtakes – the result of the outputs (e.g., “what you want people to feel from the message”
  • Outcomes – resulting change in behavior of target groups (e.g., people showing up to event)

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Big Buddy hosts the same fundraising events every year with the same kind of promotional and awareness tactics, mostly local news TV spots and posts from their Facebook account. Though Big Buddy is not having trouble gathering an audience for its events (besides the Legacies), it could definitely benefit from the evaluation step.

A simple way for Big Buddy to increase its evaluation method after an event would be “cutting.” It is a simple way to measure press exposure by comparing press clippings of a PR campaign from one year to the other.

As far as the Big Buddy Legacy campaign goes, Reach PR will be focusing on evaluating frequency. Since the Legacy campaign is focused on acceptance, Reach PR needs to communicate with Big Buddy Legacies several times in order to create an impact. At the end of this campaign, Reach PR will look at the frequency of messages sent out and who saw them.

To learn more about the Big Buddy Program, please visit their website and Facebook page.

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Bianca Zaragoza is a senior Manship School of Mass Communication student at LSU. She currently is the social media intern at Louisiana Travel Promotion Association and the design director for Reach Public Relations. After graduation, she plans to work in entertainment PR and focus on her photography business.

Kick it with her on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Changes in PR tactics/channels in relation to Big Buddy

By Katherine Burns, event director

With Public Relations growing rapidly, changes in PR tactics and channels are constantly evolving. Social media usage is also at an all-time high so PR professionals must keep up with what their audiences’ wants and interests.

Many new tactics and channels have changed PR but social media is the biggest contributor. It has changed the way we receive, post, and interpret information. Some of the main ways tactics and channels are changing in public relations are conversation vs. speech, information gathering and personal service.

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Conversation vs. speech

Audiences want to be more engaged and involved in communicating than ever before. They do not want companies to throw information at them, rather to have a two-way communication. Our client Big Buddy can use this opportunity to make a deeper connection with their target audience by sharing what their program does and their success stories. Heartfelt stories and the work they do in the community are two ways they can portray this.

Information gathering

The way PR professionals gather information is to keep their audience in mind. It has also ushered in the idea of a virtual journalist in the fact that anyone can report on the news or their opinions because of all the communication outlets available. When someone is searching for a news story, a popular blog page might pop up right below a credible news station website. If Big Buddy can engage with their publics, they have a chance to create a favorable brand impression on social media and even business relationships for possible sponsors.

Personal service

A recent trend in public relations is the expectation of personalized service 24/7. If a tragedy happens or a customer has a bad experience, they expect a timely, personal response from the company/organization. Businesses must show that they are transparent and care about their consumers, or they will not continue to support them. Because of this expectation and the social media platforms available, there is a larger base of possible complaints and visibility of issues by the public.

Since digital marketing and social media are huge components to the social media process now, “rather than focus on channels, focus on expectations of the audiences and how to serve as a valued resource for them,” Dave Folkens said. In our campaign for the Big Buddy Program, all of the tactics and channels we have implemented are because it is what the audience would like to see or uses most often.

To learn more about the Big Buddy Program, please visit their website and Facebook page.

Katherine is a senior public relations student graduating in May from Louisiana State University. After graduation, she plans to work in entertainment PR. She currently works at the Shaw Center for the Arts and serves as Reach Public Relations event director. Connect with Katherine or follow her on Twitter.

Big Buddy and PR strategies

By Christina Riviere, strategy director

Strategy Defined

Strategy is an important aspect of public relations (PR). From the largest corporate company campaign to the smallest non-profit organization, all campaigns use strategies. What precisely defines a strategy? As stated by Merriam-Webster, a strategy is “a careful plan or method for achieving a particular goal usually over a long period of time.”

According to a QSR Magazine article, “Sending press releases to the media shouldn’t be the extent of your public relations strategy.” In other words, as PR practitioners, we have to do much more and not limit the possibilities. For some clients, their PR strategies may be “stuck in the dark ages” or not exist much at all. There are ways of bettering organizations through carefully planned strategies. Creating strategic plans will give clients much more successful results.

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Strategies are specific plans used for goals. After primary research is completed, strategists must establish goals and objectives. What does your organization or business want to accomplish? These goals and objectives must be both specific and measurable. Strategists must also question the awareness, acceptance and action of key publics found through research.

The next portion of strategy consists of formulating action and response strategies. A practitioner also has to design an effective communication plan. Once the plan is created, strategists have to develop specific communications tactics. Then, the strategic plan can be implemented.

Strategies for Big Buddy

Throughout the semester, Reach Public Relations has evaluated our primary and secondary research.  Our research has given us the basis for developing our campaign strategy. We established goals with more specific objectives in mind. We set to attain these by the end of the semester.

Based on our discussions with the client and results of the primary research survey, the firm has defined our key publics. These include Legacies, the Big Buddy Board of Directors, executive director Gaylynne Mack and parents of program participants. Publics also include limiters such as the Boys and Girls Club, the YMCA of Baton Rouge and the Big Brothers and Big Sisters program.

Reach Public Relations wants to increase awareness of the Legacy program to bring donations and volunteers. We hope to do this through our bingo event on April 19.

The agency also intends on enhancing communicative messages through existing social media channels. One tactic is delivering a month-long social media plan for the client. I created this plan includes ideas for social media content throughout the year. These include holidays and theme days from each month of the year.

The firm has also developed several other non-traditional communication strategies. For instance, we are creating an e-mail template strictly for Big Buddy’s Legacy list. The organization will send a quarterly newsletter to the Legacies.

Also, we have formulated a fundraising letter to send to the Legacies. Reach has written talking points for Legacies speaking at events. I have formulated a news spot production script, which will be completed with a coordinating storyboard. Furthermore, I created a radio production script as well. This script may be used to promote any Big Buddy event. It is not limited to Legacy-related events. Another Legacy communication deliverable is a video. This will be uploaded to Big Buddy’s YouTube channel and used in presentations and on social media.

To learn more about the Big Buddy Program, please visit their website and Facebook page.

Christina Riviere is a senior Manship School of Mass Communication student at LSU. Currently, she serves as the social and digital media manager of dezinsINTERACTIVE and the strategy director of Reach Public Relations. Connect with Christina or learn more about her here.

Note: The Big Buddy Program wishes to use Legacy as a proper noun. We have been instructed to capitalize the term.

PR research and Big Buddy

By Kelsey King, account executive

Public relations research is a topic that makes many of my mass communication peers cringe, and I have not figured out why. I enjoy the research aspect of public relations and recognize the importance of it for the profession.

In one of Weber Shandwick’s latest blog posts, a PR professional wrote that research is critical for three reasons: it helps you strategize, substantiate your claims and make informed decisions. My opinion is that research does this and so much more.

Why is research so important for the Big Buddy Program?

The organization began 35 years ago. They are clearly successful and consistent in increasing funds, mentors and mentees. So they do not need to waste their time conducting research, right? Wrong.

Big Buddy is looking to tap into a new public—one that they have not had much luck with before. Big Buddy is looking to develop ongoing relationships with people who were formerly involved with the program. This includes past mentees, mentors, employees, board members, donors and other people who were involved in some way. Big Buddy refers to this group as legacies.

Reach Public Relations will help Big Buddy reach this new public through primary and secondary research.

Reach Public Relations conducted secondary research through a previous legacy campaign, Big Buddy’s website and published materials and research conducted by Big Buddy employees.

Through this research Reach Public Relations learned that Big Buddy is a leading organization of its kind. It is one of the most successful and established nonprofits in the area, and it is leading the way in mentoring programs in Baton Rouge.

On the other hand, the agency discovered that Big Buddy lacks internal and external communication.

Reach Public Relations also completed primary research by compiling 100 survey responses from legacies, people affiliated with nonprofits and Baton Rouge residents. The survey gauged participants’ knowledge and volunteer and donation habits toward nonprofits, specifically the Big Buddy Program.

We did this to determine if we need to focus on gaining awareness and acceptance of the Big Buddy Program and their services or if we need to focus on encouraging the key public to take action, such as donating or volunteering. Our agency decided to focus on both to successfully increase engagement between the legacies and the Big Buddy Program.

Reach Public Relations concluded Big Buddy needs consistent communication with the current legacies to build the program and to encourage them to be more involved.

To learn more about the Big Buddy Program, please visit their website and Facebook page.

Kelsey King is the account executive for Reach Public Relations. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

How PR writing can help Big Buddy

By Ellen Leonards, writing director

Effective communication is a vital component to public relations (PR). When most people think about communication, they usually associate it with verbal communication. However, another component is written communication. In most cases, before the message is spoken, it must be written, such as in news conferences and speeches, but it can also stand alone, such as in news stories and feature stories.

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Most organizations and businesses have a PR professional working for them as a liaison between themselves and the media to promote or inform the public of a cause, a product or an idea. However, some organizations do not have the means within their budget to hire a PR professional, such as the Big Buddy Program in Baton Rouge, La.

Reach Public Relations is partnered with the Big Buddy Program this semester to help them formulate a one-year strategic communication plan. In addition, they will also be planning and executing a fundraising event. One way to promote this event is through PR writing. Reach PR’s writing director will write a media advisory, as well as a post-event press release to send to local media. Former Big Buddy Program mentees, known as legacies, will be the guest speakers at the event, in which the PR writing director will provide talking points for them to use when presenting.

Without a communication team or a PR writing director working for the Big Buddy Program, they are at a loss when it comes to effectively and efficiently communicating to their target audience and to the entire community.

Another way a PR writing director would benefit the Big Buddy Program would be through writing news stories and feature stories. With the newly incorporated legacy program, Big Buddy has many testimonials to share with the public. A feature story would highlight what Big Buddy has done to help past participants of the program. New stories would help inform the public of Big Buddy’s updates regularly.

Social media is also an opportunity to use PR writing. Big Buddy could post updates on their social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, to show their followers what is happening at Big Buddy on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. They could also share stories and important information.

PR writing helps get a message to an audience with words, sometimes translated verbally. The Big Buddy Program would greatly benefit having a PR writing director on their staff to help promote their organization, to inform the public of upcoming events and fundraisers and to encourage participation by becoming a volunteer, donor or mentor.

To learn more about the Big Buddy Program, please visit their website and Facebook page.

Ellen Leonards is from Crowley, La. She is currently studying mass communication with a concentration in public relations at Louisiana State University. She will graduate in May 2015. Following graduation, she plans to attend graduate school at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where she will earn her Master’s in business administration.

Connect with Ellen on Facebook or Twitter!