Dreamer Reader

My mother has been a second grade teacher for 25 years. While she loves her job and students, she also loves interior design, specifically wall signs. Like this:

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This summer she has designed, painted and framed dozens of signs because she loves it. Her heart rate literally rises while planning her newest wall decor.

Pinterest is the way to my DIY-ing and wanderlust-ful heart. Show me how to create a painted canvas or how to book a cheap flight to Italy, and I’m hooked on that site for hours.

I love to dream; I love to create.

My dear reader, I know you must have something you are so passionate about, your pulse races. Maybe you love photography; you might be the next Pioneer Woman; you are dying to explore Iceland.

We have something in common: we dream.

In this blog I will lay out my heart and share dreams, past and present, and maybe inspire new ones.

My dream audience is those that will dream with me. A reader that will be inspired to try a recipe, research a new destination, or DIY my newest craft.

What are your passions? Let’s dream together.

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I still am

Once upon a time (Feb. 2015), I enrolled in a course called Blogging 101 through WordPress. I could not wait to write my thoughts and share them with the world. In my first post, I introduced myself as a Christian, puppy loving, Ohio State fan; I still am (go Bucks).

I also introduced myself as a blogger. While I did start this blog for a PR class, I only used it for that semester. And that’s where it stopped. Finals, life and my internship got in the way.

But I’ve grown since then. I have learned, loved and developed new friendships. I have set new goals and met old ones.

I’m still an extroverted, twenty-something coffee drinker like I was in February, but with Blogging 101, I am hoping to grow into a better writer and make blogging friends.

I hope you follow my blog and get to know me!

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The Marriott Message and the “Big, Bad Business”

I’m all about transparency. When I have conversations with my friends, I like to know how they’re really feeling and what is going on in their lives because I care about them. When I think about a big business, transparent is not the first adjective I’d use. In fact, I think a lot of people would say that, too. The connotation some people associate with large companies is bad; there’s a catch; they just want my money; they don’t care about me, the consumer.

But there is something different about Marriott, the international hotel chain. The Executive Chairman and Chairman of the Board Bill Marriott is writing a blog about his company and the people behind the scenes. He is giving the consumer a peek into the works and lives of those who made it so great.

One of my favorite blog posts Bill has written, “It Comes from the Soul,” Bill said, “There’s no magical formula or business consultant that you call and say, ‘build us a culture.’ It comes from the soul of the executive team usually the founder… At Marriott International, our number one core value is ‘Putting People First.’ How you communicate that is very important.”

Putting People First: this blog post reveals that is 100% true. Each blog post describes something personal about Bill Marriott or an interaction with an employee. Specifically, “Setting the World on Fire,” Bill introduces us to Hannah, a new member of the Marriott family, with a very inspiring story and passion for helping women in Ghana through education. In another post, “The Haiti Principle,” Bill’s daughter Debbie guest wrote and described her trip to the new Haiti Marriott hotel. Debbie tells us Marriott decided to “put a hotel in Haiti, an investment in the people, the economy and the country. They “hire friendly, train technical” and found a lot of employees at orphanages, churches and refugee camps.

The employees make up about one-fifth of the readers, and I think it is because it is their way of connecting with the head of the company, and I think that’s how Bill intended it to be. Through this online format, consumers and employees both see the transparency of the company and I think Marriott should continue to engage the public in this way. Not only are they receiving revenue from this blog, but they are also receiving priceless trust and loyalty from their customers and employees.

One of my favorite craft stores is Hobby Lobby, and I strongly believe they could benefit from writing a blog like Marriott. Hobby Lobby has been all over the news the past few years because of many faith-based issues with the government, and I think with honesty like Marriott, they could eliminate some bad press and gain a few sympathetic customers. It could be a way to connect the Hobby Lobby employees with their CEO and a way for the public to look at them with a little more sympathy. Blog posts could include the reasons behind why the believe what they believe along with craft ideas, tutorials and decorating tips for the customer.

Whatever the content, it must be personal to give the company more of a human-aspect instead of a “big, bad business” like so many may think it is. Right now Hobby Lobby is in a very vulnerable state, and a blog could be a make or break for them. Transparency with their readers should be a big deal.

Searcy.com

The content of Searcy.com ranges from White County Medical Center news releases to statements from the Searcy Police Department to job postings around the city. Each posting is from the business, company or organization itself, which is very unique compared to other city websites. Typically, the organizer of a city website controls what kind of content is posted on the website. Searcy.com lets anyone with a username post content, which can be a good thing or bad, depending on the quality of the content that is being posted.

Searcy.com typically posts on average three times every day, excluding weekends and Fridays. Their social media side bar always has recent posts, articles, photos and videos streaming straight from Facebook. Harding University has always been in the social streaming side bar.

The most popular postings have been about the holiday and Christmas events, Searcy Police Department updates about a missing child and the announcement of the White County Medical Center name change to Unity Health. The postings that effect everyone in the Searcy area are typically the postings that have the mose views or reads.

The top contributors to the website are Searcy Info, the Searcy Policy Department, White County Medical Center and the Elliot Foundation.

How to Make Public Relations a Good Tasting Cookie

I love cookies. You just can’t beat warm chocolate chip cookies and a cold glass of milk. The other night I was craving a cookie so badly, I made a microwaved, single cookie-in-a-mug just to satisfy my craving. A “real” oven-baked batch would’ve solved every problem I had that night, but the microwaved version of the real thing got the job done.

But a cookie is not just a cookie. A cookie is flour, sugar, brown sugar, eggs, chocolate chips, vanilla, butter, baking soda and salt mixed and baked at 350 degrees. There are several components to a cookie. If one of those ingredients were left out, the cookie becomes a bad tasting cookie. And who likes bad tasting cookies?

Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) works in the same way. There are ingredients (social media, advertising, sales promotion, public relations, etc.)  that work together to create a delicious batch of unified messages across numerous platforms. Without each ingredient (done the right way) the message is no longer unified (a bad tasting cookie). West Virginia University Reed College of Media compares IMC to a musical score, but I like my cookie comparison better, because cookies > musical scores.

The American Marketing Association defines IMC as “a planning process designed to assure that all brand contacts received by a customer or prospect for a product, service, or organization are relevant to that person and consistent over time.”

According to WVU Reed College of Media, IMC is a shift from traditional media to digital and interactive media, mass media to specialized media, low agency accountability to high agency accountability and limited internet access to widespread internet availability.

Recently, I have been giving a lot of thought to grad school, especially WVU Reed College of Media and the IMC grad program. I think public relations is heading in the direction of Integrated Marketing Communications, and I am certain I will use IMC in my professional career after college, whether I get my masters in IMC or not.

Meanwhile, I’ll continue eating cookies, the good tasting kind.

I am…

Christian, extroverted, coffee-lover, puppy-obsessed, Ohio State Buckeye fan, college student, Okie from Muskogee.

And now I am a blogger.

Three weeks ago, my public relations class was asked to start a blog to post assignments. But I think there is more to this “blogging thing” than just for school.

It’s a space to share ideas, thoughts and experiences. It’s a tool to better my writing skills. It’s a place to connect with people dreaming the same dream.

Soon you will discover my ideas, thoughts and experiences. You’ll probably think my writing will need to improve. And we may share a dream or two.

As far as this blog is concerned, my dream is to share words that inspire, uplift and encourage those who read it and to network with other dreamers.

What’s your dream?

I am a thinker, traveler and dreamer. And now I’m a blogger.

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Releasing “Done Right” Releases

My freshman year of college, I launched head first into the world of public relations. At the time I really only thought that PR was about being a people-person.

“Oh, I can do that,” I naively said to myself. It turns out there is a whole lot more to PR than just “being a people-person.”

News releases is just one small part of PR, but can make a great impact. There has been some controversy about news releases between PR professions, however, according to “Journalists Heart News Releases” by Malayna Williams of PRSA, journalists actually depend on news releases.

Malayna conducted a survey of over 200 journalists to ask their opinion of news releases and their preferences. The survey found that journalists today have more responsibilities but less resources. News releases are perfect resources for journalists. Williams emphasized “news releases, done right, can be a terrific resource for journalists.”

“Done right” can mean several different things to several different people. Malayna described exactly what “done right” means to her.

First, “done right” can also mean “sent right.” Malayna stressed “…they should reach journalists where they organize, archive and research story ideas: their own inboxes.” Almost 90 percent of the journalists surveyed said they wanted releases sent to their email inbox.

High-res images, infographics and video content is becoming more and more popular and requested with news releases. “Not only did a vast majority (78%) of journalists tell us they want high-res images in their releases, 77% told us they were actually more likely to pick up a release and run with it if it included transferable images,” Malayna described. News releases must be “social media-friendly.” Quotes that could be tweeted and shared over social media is extremely important.

In the ever-changing digital age we currently live in, it is imperative that public relations professionals adapt to those changes.

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Photo from Malayna Williams’ article “Journalists Heart News Releases.”

Read the full article here: http://comprehension.prsa.org/?p=6728

Getting Personal

I love nonprofits. I love the mission behind nonprofits. Nonprofits must get the job done with as little money as possible but still make an impact worth a million dollars.

The nonprofit Covenant House Washington based in Washington D.C. has been helping and providing training for work, crisis and education and long-term housing to homeless teens for twenty years. This organization has a communications budget of less than $20,000 annually. In order to raise funds, Covenant House Washington challenged local business leaders and executives to sleep on the streets with homeless teens. Sleep Out: Executive Edition has attracted attention to Covenant House Washington since 2012 and is now an event that happens every November, the beginning of hypothermia season.

C. Fox Communications encouraged Covenant House Washington to write an editorial and op-ed about the emotional impact the event had on its sleepers. “Why I Traded my Gala Gown for Cold Concrete” was written to the business community of D.C., and was a challenge and an inspiring tool to look at the homeless crisis differently. If people could experience homelessness, even for one night, the perspectives of executives who had the power (and money) would change from pity to action.

Nonprofits can be hard to operate, but I think Covenant House Washington knows what they’re doing. With the Sleep Out: Executive Edition, they showed that they are about people. They get personal. The editorial/op-ed “Why I Traded my Gala Gown for Cold Concrete” is proof. They captured the emotions and feelings of the executives, business leaders and the teens living on the streets.

Getting personal. It takes work, but the outcome is always worth it.