ToolsInitially, I wanted to write exclusively about HARO (Help a Reporter Out), developed by Peter Shankman. However, after doing some research, I discovered several brilliant social media tools for PR professionals. The following is a list of tools I think every PR student/pro should use. My inspiration for this post comes from Sarah Evans’ original post on Mashable, titled 10 of the Best Social Media Tools for PR Professionals and Journalists.

HARO (Help a Reporter Out)

HARO, developed by Peter Shankman, is an e-mail mailing list. Once you sign up, you will receive three e-mails per day, which include 30 to 50 queries per e-mail. The topics of the queries include Health, Business and Finance, Entertainment, Technology, and Travel. If you find a query that you have information about, you e-mail the reporter directly. If the information is valid and interesting, the reporter may get in touch with you for further information. This is a great place for PR professionals to receive direct queries from reporters and it’s free!

PitchEngine

PitchEngine is a social media news release building and sharing network. PitchEngine allows PR professionals to easily distribute information and communicate news. Social media news releases are the future of traditional news releases. PitchEngine provides journalists and PR professionals with a variety of Web 2.0 tools. PitchEngine eliminates the need for email attachments, word documents, and image CDs. Movies, pictures, and other Web 2.0 gadgets can easily be uploaded to the social media release. PitchEngine also allows reporters to subscribe to releases via RSS.

BeatBlogging.org

BeatBlogging.org looks at how journalists use social media networks and tools to improve beat reporting. The site defines beat blogging as a blog that sticks to a well-defined beat of coverage area. The beat blog presents a regular stream of reporting and commentary in a specific area the beat covers. BeatBlogging.org describes themselves as a “best practices” site.

Sarah Evans describes BeatBlogging.org as a source to build a strong pitch distribution list. The site highlights the latest trends and tools and how they can help reporters do a better job tracking their beat.

Media People Using Twitter

Media People Using Twitter is a Wiki site that includes a list of some influential journalists that use Twitter. The journalists also are nicely categorized by geographic location.

Additional resources:

Developing Social Media Workshops for Journalists

How Journalists Can Leverage Social Media

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I recently recorded my first podcast about how organizations create and maintain strong reputations. During my research, I found some great resources that reinforce the importance of reputation. With disasters like Enron, people have a growing level of distrust in organizations. Reputations are among the most important asset an organization can possess.

By TrendsSpotting

During the podcast, I play a clip from the Reputation Management podcast featuring  Gary Thompson, former EVP of Schwartz Communication and former director of the Reputation Institute.

After listening to Thompson discuss the definition of reputation and how to manage reputation, I begin to discuss information I found from Neville Hobson. Hobson discusses how organizations can create strong reputations with individuals and groups who are involved with Web 2.0 and social media. Social media puts power in the hands of individuals, which forces organizations to be transparent and participate in two-way communication.

Although my recording skills are extremely amateur, the content of the podcast includes useful information. Below is my podcast and additional resources regarding organization reputation.

Gretchen\’s PR Podcast

Reputation Management 9/18/2006: Navigating Corporate Reputation

Reputation, Beyond Authenticity

Centre for Reputation Management Through People

Podcast to Build Your Corporate Reputation

Truth and consequences about trust

Presentations are a common theme during the final weeks of my PR classes. Lucky for me, there are many resources available that aid inexperienced presenters such as myself. These resources will help make your presentations shine. Take a look!

By Ad Lib 24,7

Lessons from TED: 5 Simple Tweaks

Doug Neff recently posted some tips, tricks, and advice on Slide:ology about giving a stellar presentation using PowerPoint or Keynote.

His five simple tricks include:

Use a custom background

Everyone who uses PowerPoint or Keynote has access to the original background provided by the programs. To be unique, create a custom background that represents yourself or the presentation.  The background, although custom, should be clean and subtle. The background should not detract from the actual content of the presentation.

Custom backgrounds can be found on various photo sites such as iStockphoto or Shutterstock. You can also design backgrounds yourself using tools on PowerPoint, Keynote, and Photoshop.

Choose fonts wisely

Use sans-serif fonts for bigger and bolder headlines, captions, and short phrases. Serif fonts use extra details that make short headlines and captions harder to read. Doug suggests using Helvetica for presentations because it is a standard font that most people already have on their computer. Helvetica is also an example of a clean, readable, sans serif font.

Use animations and transitions appropriately

Use animations and transitions subtly to enhance the presentation. Animations and transitions are meant to be felt and not really noticed. The presentation should feel smooth. If animations don’t add anything positive to the presentation, they should probably be taken out.

One idea per slide

More than one idea per slide is unnecessary. Keep the presentation interactive by changing slides with each new idea. Let the audience absorb each idea with each slide. This will also keep the attention of the audience on the key messages the speaker is trying to iterate.

Take care of your images

Searching Google Image is not an appropriate tool for building professional presentations. Presenters need to have permission to use photos for a presentation. There are many sites where photos are available for free or a small fee. Photo sites include stock.xchng, everystockphoto, iStockphoto, and 123RF. Cyclo.ps also is a great search engine for photos.

Make your messages sticky

Made to Stick outlines some great guidelines to follow as a presenter. My PR instructor, Kelli Matthews, recently highlighted the importance of sticky messages during a lesson on giving presentations.

Sticky messages should have the following characteristics:

  • Simple: find the core
  • Unexpectedness: pay attention
  • Concreteness: make it clear
  • Credibility: make it believable
  • Emotions: make people care
  • Stories: get people to act

Here are a few examples that capture all the elements of a good presentation:

Miniature Earth

Meet Henry

More resources on how to give a high-quality presentation:

Make Better Presentations – The Anatomy of a Good Speech

Tricks for Getting to the Core of Your Story

Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery by Garr Reynolds

The 2009 UO PRSSA Bateman competition team recently planned its first event: Lock Up Your Future Campus Day. With a little more than two months to prepare, the Bateman team organized a day full of college-related activities for nearly 300 eighth grade students. Overall, the event was a huge success and taught us many lessons in event planning.

Lock Up Your Future is the local campaign for the national Consumer Bankers Association “Hit The Books Running” campaign. Each team member applied to be a part of the campaign and has worked tirelessly to make the campaign a success.

UO PRSSA Bateman Team

The goal of Lock Up Your Future is to communicate to eighth graders the importance of preparing early for their future. Many people are unaware of the large amount of resources available to students who wish to pursue higher education options. Our research indicated the best way to share our key messages was through a Web site and large campus event.

Our hard work and planning resulted in a Web site that offers resources for students, parents, and teachers and The Lock Up Your Future Campus Day, which took place February 26. During the campus day event, students participated in a mini college fair, mini lecture, campus tour, and “map your future” activity.

Instructor Kelli Matthews at Lock Up Your Future Campus Day

The event was a success thanks to our wonderful volunteers. Several University of Oregon students gave up their precious time to lead activities, give tours, and supervise.

Lessons I learned from planning my first event:

The event may not run on schedule:
The first middle school arrived 20 minutes late, which caused us to move every session back 20 minutes. Many volunteers were confused and it was hard to communicate the new plan-of-attack once the event had started.

Give volunteers clear instructions:
The team and I assumed many students would be able to follow the brief instructions we provided them. Some volunteers were confused and could have benefited from a thorough orientation of the day’s planned events.

Eighth grade students have their own agenda:
Some eighth grade students decided to tune out during the sessions. We learned to keep information interesting and interactive to help students stay involved and intrigued.

Although there are many things I think our group would do differently, the Lock Up Your Future campaign was a huge success. I’m proud to be a part of this team of highly motivated, professional PR students.

Check out the coverage of the Lock Up Your Future Campus Day on KMTR News Source 16.