Reflections on service-learning with SmokingWords

Well, we’re nearing the end. It feels like this semester has flown by at the speed of light. I remember the first day I walked into class and was sitting by some of the people in my group who I have now grown close to through this semester of working together. I’ve had a great experience working with SmokingWords and my fellow team members this semester. Now being at the end of it all, I have time to reflect on what I’ve learned .

This course has been the most challenging course I’ve ever taken. Strictly considering the PR writing part of it, my knowledge has expanded to many different aspects which have allowed me to be prepared for multiple situations. Before starting this course I didn’t know what a social media release, storyboard or media advisory was. Now I feel like if a future employer were to approach me with an assignment involving any of these things I would at least have an idea of what it was and a general feeling of how to go about it. Writing for a deadline has been one of the most challenging aspects of this course. In-class writings were usually due at the end of class which was always difficult to do. However, this taught me how to perform in a situation where great amounts of time might not be available. As I alluded to previously, learning how to write for many different professional situations has been one of the biggest advantages of this course. Writing assignments not only consisted of public relations topics but also topics that someone would encounter in an advertising or political communication field. Unfortunately, the Manship school does not require public relations students to take any public speaking courses. Therefore, when the time came to write and present a speech, I was very unprepared. However with help and advice from Dr. Moore and valuable feedback afterward, I got through it and now feel a bit more comfortable speaking in front of people.

This class was also very helpful in giving real-world advice on how to conduct ourselves when we get into a professional environment. Dr. Moore gave us advice about how to interact with journalists (What’s your deadline?), foster client relationships and develop and maintain a personal brand. I found the lecture on digital portfolios to be especially informative and valuable. The guest speaker was ready to answer any questions we had and, having seen multiple portfolios herself, I know she knew what she was talking about.

I have learned how to think creatively both in design tactics (something I focused on more in my previous blog post), and creative tactics to make our Great American Smokeout event successful. Lessons learned through my experience with SmokingWords were enumerable. Watch the video Ryan, our account liaison, and I made reflecting on this below!

Hope you’ve enjoyed my thoughts on service-learning with SmokingWords throughout this semester. It has been a pleasure. See ya next time!

Thanks for stopping by,

Mollie

Ethical and professional practices for SmokingWords

In my approach to the issue of ethics and professionalism at the onset of my college career, I was somewhat indifferent to it and quite unaware of its importance. That sentiment quickly changed after taking the ethics course we are required to take from the Manship school. I had a wonderful professor for this course known as Dr. Louis Day. I always considered myself to have a pretty strict moral code and thought I would conduct myself in an ethical way when it came to my professional life. However with this course I found that ethical practices encompass more than just doing what your mom would be proud of. As professionals in the public relations world, we have a responsibility to our publics, our employer, our client and their code of ethics, and our own personal values. Within these realms we are expected to be honest, conveying any conflicts of interest in our communication and presenting all sides of an issue. We also must convey a sense of integrity. My impression of integrity means holding to our individual code of ethics even when no one is looking. This means that at times we are going to have to sacrifice some of our individual objectives for the sake of being professional and ethical in our practices. I could go on all day about my impression of ethics but PRSA outlines a code of ethics for public relations professionals that is quite in depth and addresses many issues.

In my work with SmokingWords I had a valuable lesson in ethics concerning logo use and citing sources. I was under the impression that Facebook and Twitter logos were fair game for use in design materials. Therefore when I designed fliers and postcards for our client I included them in my design to demonstrate that SmokingWords had these social media accounts. Through the wise disclosure of my professor I found out that, like every other company, Facebook and Twitter have restrictions in the use of their logos. After finding out those regulations I was able to employ these logos properly in my flier designs for work at my everyday job at the study abroad office. I have learned that using images and sources that I don’t own is dishonesty and punishable by law. I am very happy for this lesson in ethics.

When it comes to professionalism I feel that I have a bit to learn. At times I will sacrifice professionalism in an effort to bring humor to a situation. I feel that I can learn a lot from my peers in the Manship school in this aspect. There is no lack of resources to train ourselves in professionalism with societies like PRSSA, SPJ, and Ad Fed available to us. These student organizations provide their members with valuable experiences, feedback, and speakers that can develop their professional skills on a number of levels.

It wouldn’t be a finished blog post if I didn’t include a picture of toilet paper, right?

#truth

Thanks for stopping by,

Mollie

What I’ve learned through service-learning with SmokingWords

Well, we’re nearing the end. I can’t believe that there is only three weeks of school left, and more importantly, three weeks left with our service-learning client, SmokingWords. Throughout these past 10 or so weeks, I have learned many things about public relations practices through this campaign. My agency, Magnolia House PR, has been conducting a campaign to make LSU a tobacco-free campus

The biggest thing I’ve learned through this service-learning project is that campaigns take a lot of work. In order to have a successful campaign, our group has to meet regularly, plan extensively, and provide feedback for each other. There have been many late nights spent at Highland Coffees, the baristas vacuuming around us and giving us suggestive looks to leave. We have learned that what you get out of a campaign is what you put into it. And we have been putting a fixed effort into this campaign. Another interesting thing I have learned concerns our target audience; college students age 18-24. This audience is a particularly difficult audience to reach because they are less inclined to trust organizations and what they are claiming to do. We are entering an era where public relations is going to have to develop new tactics to reach these soon-to-be major consumers.

Specifically, as my position as design director, I have learned significant lessons concerning how to present this organization visually. In my past experience with design, there was always a specific list of instructions as to what was expected. An example of this was during my marketing internship at the NeuroMedical Center where I was told to create a quarterly newsletter, edit brochures, and create programs for events. In every one of those instances I was given specific guidelines- use this color, this theme, these pictures. I have found it both challenging and engaging to find a central “theme” to incorporate for all of our marketing materials. Even more challenging has been the need to design something under a strict deadline. I’ve always stood by the saying that in order to create something dynamic and creative one needs a lot of time to develop and execute a strategy. With my busy schedule this semester, that has not always been possible.

I have also learned what a unique partnership between two organizations, like SCVNGR and the Manship school, looks like. It has been especially interesting to develop creative ways in how to use this mobile application to promote our client. As I have mentioned in previous posts, we will be using it to host a trek across campus and smoke-free establishments like The Varsity Theater.

Though the road has been long and sometimes difficult, I feel that this service-learning experience has taught me a lot and I look forward to learning more throughout the rest of the experience.

Thanks for stopping by,

Mollie

Smoking Words, social media and technology

Social media is something I got very sick of a couple years ago.

I was at PRSSA national assembly in Seattle, Wa. in 2011 and it seemed like every officer running for a position had something in their platform about social media.

I felt like all of the hype was overdone and this stuff really wasn’t going anywhere. I admit that I was ignorant of the fact that it was and will be an important part of the public relations field for a while. I am now aware that I am entering a field where it has become one of the most important skills to have. Since then, I have become a frequent tweeter, I have an active Facbook and LinkedIn profile, and I enjoy reading news about new innovations in social media and technology.

One of the biggest parts of this class is our use of the mobile application, SCVNGR. Every service-learning group has to incorporate it into their official plan in some way. I have enjoyed planning and playing with SCVNGR, I look forward to it serving us well at Magnolia House PR. In our strategy for Smoking Words, we have integrated social media as a major part of our plan. We have had weekly “themes” in which we post to Smoking Words’s Facebook and Twitter. We have also been actively trying to increase the ‘likes’ on Facebook and followers on Twitter. In terms of SCVNGR, we have planned out a trek around campus which will lead students to our main event this semester, The Great American Smokeout.

Just today, I read an article on social media usage that explained that 87 percent of business-to-business marketers now use social media to spread their message. That is just one example of how social media has entered the world of business and flipped it upside down.

Now, I’m no

(Bill Gates)

but I have seen amazing  innovations in technology throughout my lifetime. It seems like it’s every day that Mac is introducing its new iPhone or iPad. We all resort to our tribal instinct of camping outside, sometimes in severe weather conditions, just to be the first ones to have it; but that is what technology does, it mobilizes people. As I said, I am no expert on technology, but I do know that to stay relevant in today’s professional world we need to have both a knowledge of it, and a basic understanding of where it’s headed.

Man, all this talk about technology is making me wonder what nerds smell like.

Thanks for stopping by,

Mollie

Clearing Smoke Through Relevant Tactics and Service-Learning

Welcome welcome welcome,

How did you like the balloons on the way in?  I thought they were pretty cool. You may be wondering where the name “heretocleartheair” came from, eh?  Well, aside from the obvious relation to the phrase “let’s clear the air,” the name was inspired by my client in my mass communication 4001 course of public relations writing at Louisiana State University. We have been divided into groups and assigned a service-learning non-profit to develop and execute a mini campaign using the mobile application SCVNGR. Why service learning? Well according to LSU’s Center for Community Engagement, Learning and Leadership’s website, it helps to build student leadership skills and reinforce course content among other things. So, in short, it is a unique and beneficial opportunity to learn!

Smoking Words is the name, tabacco-free campus is the game. The game my client is involved in, that is. We are in the beginning stages of this mini campaign and I am already enjoying my team and learning a lot from the process. Our team has met a few times  and I am so amazed by the talent that exists in my fellow team members. Not to mention the sense of humor present in all of us, we can’t have a group text or meeting without there being copious amounts of laughter. I do not apologize for including that link, I can’t stop watching it because it makes me laugh so much. Ah, I digress, anyway, I serve as the design director for our team and the rest are as follows:

Remy Plas: co-strategy director

Mallory Richardson: co-strategy director

Ryan DeLaune: account liaison

Kyleigh Quiroga: writing director

And together we make… Magnolia House Public Relations

Did you know that there are seven colleges in our own state that are 100 percent tobacco-free? What about 704 nationwide?  Pretty surprising right? That’s what I found written in the website for Smoking Words.  Smoking Words is trying to spread the importance of having a tobacco-free campus here at LSU! They are partnered with a tobacco-free focused campaign called Fresh Campus to spread this message and encourage the creation of policies toward having a tobacco-free environment. I have already learned so much about the harmful effects of smoking just after one meeting with Professor Judith Sylvester, founder of Smoking Words and my ex-media research teacher.

It wasn’t till a conversation with my sister that I realized the worth in all of this hard work. I think she said something like, “Mollie, you already sound like you know what you’re talking about just complaining to me about it and it might seem hard but you don’t realize how much you are learning through this.” Indeed I was overlooking the fact that I am learning a lot.  LEARNING?! In a school environment? Who would have thought. I must say the initiative  by my college, the Manship School of Mass Communication, to acquaint us more and more with the digital world and social networking is exciting as well.

Speaking of social media, I found a great article on powerful Twitter search tactics from Mashable.com I’d like to share. I look forward to using them when conducting research about Smoking Words and our effect on campus. Is it just me or is our society obsessed with kittens these days?

I hope you enjoy my blog and stop by again to learn more about my real-world experiences with Smoking Words and in PR writing! Feel free to follow me on Twitter as well as I tweet about what is happening in this course!

Thanks for stopping by,

Mollie