Archive | January, 2010

What is a Crisis?

22 Jan

During this weeks #journchat I brought up my crisis communications class and a few other PR students participating in the chat were eager to know what I would be learning. As a promise to them, I am going to be posting what I learn throughout the semester. Wednesday night was my first class and here are some aspects for the next 16 weeks.

  • Our professor likes to have us teach each other different chapters within the book (Crisis Management in the New Strategy Landscape). I’ve chosen the chapter on “Emerging Trends in Crisis Management.” Should be an interesting chapter to look at and it’s the last one so I have plenty of time to work on it.
  • Final Crisis Management Plan–We’re choosing a company we would LOVE to work at after graduation (more on that later on). For the company there will be different components that need to be accomplished over the semester.
  1. February chatter report–Basically I’m creating a Google Alert for every time my company mentioned and then putting together a clip book.
  2. Blog–Each week I will have to do a blog post relating to the chapters I read each week.
  3. Twitter–I have to tweet about the company 3 times a week
  4. YouTube video–I have to create a YouTube video. That should be very interesting
  5. Podcast–Creating a podcast for the my company
  • Final Crisis Management Plan Critique–I will have to critique 2 crisis management plans that my peers have done
  • Group case studies–Working on different crises in groups
  • Discussion leadership–We have to teach the class about a particular chapter and engage discussion
  • Participation–I think that explains itself really

Our professor opened class by asking us “What is a crisis?” After giving us time to write down a response, the class came up with this list of things that come to mind.

  • Unforeseen=without warning
  • Negative=bad light=problem=damaging
  • Company/person
  • Lead to positive
  • Immediate action
  • Preventing/planned for/symptoms
  • Reputation/sales/business process
  • Chaos/loss of control
  • Publicity
  • Learning opportunity
  • Can’t ignore
  • Requires a team=defined roles
  • Direct impact

After the class compiled this list, our professor told us what he has come with when thinking of a crisis.

  • Low probability
  • High impact
  • High ambiguity–new territory
  • Swift decision-making
  • Perception based

I feel like our list was a bit more detailed on a crisis and definitely hit all points in our professor’s list. Next we went over the response needed for a crisis. There’s short term and long term. In the short term, the company needs to address the crisis immediately and quickly collect information. For the long-term, the company needs to see how they can benefit and grow from the crisis. Of course the main example was the Tylenol incident, but then we need to come up with another example of a crisis and what to do in the short and long term.

When dealing with a crisis there are to types that can occur. One is a crisis from outside the company like the Tylenol incident because the poison was placed in the tablets which the company didn’t know about initially. The other is a crisis from inside the company, which has two different types. An inside error that occurs is something that the company does not intend on happening, like the Exxon oil spill. The other type is a deliberate action taken by the company, such as the Chinese companies that intentionally used lead when making toys, all while knowing the dangers.

Throughout the semester I’ll be reading about what to do before, during and after a crisis. More is focused on the before the crisis actually occurs, which is important because every company should have a plan. Hopefully with my updating about the class, it will help those whose schools don’t offer a crisis communication class.

One more thing I need some advice on what company I should choose. I originally thought the Yankees but I’m not too sure anymore because I could be a lot of information for me to handle in addition to my other course work and internship. Please please please if you have any ideas of a company that would be relevant from time to time please let me know.

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Let the Hunt Begin

12 Jan

“How many of you have started to search for jobs?”-Quinnipaic University Campaigns professor

I was asked this back in September and my first reaction was are you kidding me I just started my internship and don’t even know if it’s something I want to eventually pursue. Luckily it was something I became interested in but that still left that question lingering in my head.

Yes I know there are many posts about finding a job but sometimes writing something out yourself helps to put things in perspective. So that’s exactly what I’m going to do. It’s just about that time when all seniors in college are gearing up to lock down after graduation plans. Some are continuing school (I’m so going to miss it) and then others, like me, are looking for that first real job. Here are some helpful steps to get anyone through the process.

  1. Research– Look up companies that provide areas that strike your interest. Public relations agencies specialize in many different areas due to their client base which provides many opportunities. Different areas within a company could lead to gaining new interests in areas you’ve never considered. One way I found companies was through the list found here: O’Dwyer Public Relations News: PR Firm Rankings
  2. List– Make a list of the companies you would definitely consider working for if given the opportunity. This obviously helps to organize your thoughts and interests. I did mine in Excel with columns for the company (clearly), contact name, address, phone number, fax, and email just to name a few.
  3. Investigate– Do more research but this time on the companies individually. Know their background, the CEO, practice areas, and case studies with specific clients (limit to about 2 or 3 that way you’re not overwhelmed). Look up the contacts for the internships/jobs.
  4. Network– Networking with PR students is always great because they know EXACTLY what you’re going through and may be able to help. Also you may be able to help them in their search. From your contacts you’ve found for each company, begin to network with them through LinkedIn and Twitter. Interact with them on a PR and somewhat personal level so they can know the real you. Then when your application comes across their desk they’ll remember you and all the interaction you’ve had prior to you applying.
  5. Gather materials– Since I was in high school, I’ve had a resume and continue to update it after every work experience and project I complete. One of my professors has always recommended that we submit our assignments in PDF format, which I have come to learn have its benefits, like the formatting won’t get distorted. When I send my materials in over the next few months, they will be in a PDF. Over the past 3 years (I started my PR classes my sophomore year), I have developed a lot of writing pieces and they are very scattered throughout my computer in different folders. Making your portfolio all come together will make everything easier so that you’re not looking for a particular piece at the last minute. Also, hopefully over your time in college you have asked professors for recommendations. It also helps employers to see what others see in you and the potential they believe you will have in your career.
  6. Apply– Send in your cover and resume (some companies may also ask for writing samples). This is probably the easiest step. Make sure though you send it the way the company has requested the materials be sent. Even if there is no entry level posted on the company’s website they will most likely accept them. And who knows a month from when you sent materials, you could get a call for a new position that has just opened up.

Hopefully from all of these steps, it leads to an interview. I’ll most likely do a later post on how to approach an interview and the DOs & DON’TS.  If while reading this you found somethings I missed PLEASE let me know so that I can edit. I’d love to share any information you may have.

What’s Your Bra Color?

8 Jan

I’m not sure how it started but when I logged on to Facebook yesterday evening most of my girl friends had colors as their status. I was extremely confused as were you most likely. After some investigating/stalking of comments from people asking what was with the colors I discovered it was linked to supporting the fight against breast cancer.

With family members that have died from different forms of cancer, a friend’s mom passing in 5th grade from breast cancer and another friend’s mom survived, I’ve always been very passionate about finding a cure. Next year I’m even hoping to walk with my friend in memory of her mom (going to school in different states prevented this in the past).

Guys were completely left in the dark on purpose as described in the little note I discovered in my inbox. But was this a mistake in the overall campaign? A small percentage of men have been diagnosed with breast cancer, so why not include them? If this were a real campaign, men should have definitely been included.

Clearly someone started this and hoped it would spread throughout Facebook. Well it worked!! It obviously also caught the attention of many in the Twitter world. Amanda Mueller from Cashman + Katz tweeted “If anyone doubts the reach of viral marketing…check your Facebook statuses and see how many colors you see…perfect example.” Could you imagine if this was a real campaign? Initially I thought maybe it was started by the fan page of Pink Ribbons, supporting the fight of breast cancer, but I was wrong.

Personally I think if updating a Facebook status to a color brought in tremendous amounts of results, a company or celebrity should take this idea and run. I’ve seen so many viral campaigns over the past year, mainly on Twitter, such as Ashton Kutcher v. CNN and Hugh Jackman’s promise. Ashton not only promoted himself but also Twitter, Ted Turner, and CNN and Hugh promised to donate $10,000 to a fan’s favorite charity. Umm love her and the show but I’m sure Kim Kardashian could donate the money she gets for tweeting to a charity.

Did you post your color? If you haven’t will you post it? (My friends are still posting their colors today.) As a PR person how would you have carried out this campaign?