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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Day Two: Professionals talk social media landmines, media relations with PRSSA students

Professionals from the San Diego area and beyond spoke with PRSSA students at a series of sessions about the power of social media and building relationships with the media on Nov. 7.

Before the sessions began, Mona Pasquil - the western political director for the White House Office of Political Affairs and the Clinton Administration - delivered the keynote address.

Mona Pasquil addressed several PRSSA chapters on Nov. 7 (Andrea Ciurej/UNO).

Pasquil spoke to students about effective crisis communication and the challenges faced by today's public relations professionals.

"Think of scenarios and put them in a can," she said. "It's easy to say, hard to do."

Pasquil addressed the importance of timing when dealing with crisis communication scenarios.

"You've got to wait and you've got to think about it," she said. "You've got a millisecond."

Pasquil also addressed the importance of knowing who you are as a person and a professional.

"There are people that don't need you to save the world, but do that one thing, that one simple thing," she said. "You will be the answer to the struggles today."

Chapter roll call immediately followed Pasquil's speech.

PRSSA chapters were called upon to stand up and deliver a cheer expressing to demonstrate school and chapter pride. Treasurer Shannon Stawniak created Maverick PR's cheer.

P-R-S-S-A (clap)
From Omaha, Nebraska - Hey!
We do PR the Maverick way!
Go Mavs!
Beef - it's what's for dinner.
Dun, dun, dun.

Following role call, students participated in a series of professional development sessions.

The first session involved four workshops: crisis, event planning, media relations and social media ethics. The second sessions involved international PR, career preparation, fashion and public affairs and community engagement. The third session involved non-profit PR, entertainment, employee relations and environmental public relations.

Brigham Young University's Susan Balcom Walton, associate chair of the department of communications, and Joel Campbell, associate professor of the department of communications, both led the discussion on the power and misuse of social media.

Susan Balcom Walton (left) and Joel Campbell (right) led the discussion on social media landmines (Andrea Ciurej/UNO).

Walton and Campbell weighed in on the fair-use factors that comply with social media, especially blogs. Both shared material from BYU to deliver an explanation.

The following factors should be considered when determining the fair use of a copyrighted work, according to BYU's Blog Content Policy:

1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for non-profit educational purposes.
2. the nature of the copyrighted work.
3. the amount and sustainability of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole.
4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

Walton and Campbell both spoke about the importance of having blog moderation policies for your blog. They also talked about strategies on how to avoid saying regretful words online by use of the "24-hour Rule."

1. Physically leave the computer area.
2. Before sending, call someone you trust and talk it through with them.
3. Save the draft or send it to yourself and reread the next day.
4. Ask yourself: Would you say this face to face? Would you be comfortable seeing it in print or saying it in a court of law?

Regardless of the landmine experienced in social media, truth is the best defense.

"It's our job to take the high road," Walton said.

Sempra Energy's April Bolduc, public relations manager, led the discussion on public affairs and community engagement.

April Bolduc speaks before a crowd of PR students about public affairs and community engagement (Andrea Ciurej/UNO).

Bolduc focused on tackling a crisis and how to win over publics from the standpoint of a Fortune 500 energy service company. When a PR team reacts to a flood, for example, Bolduc gave the following tips on how to work as a team and with the media:

- Know who's going to be on your team.
- Always be prepared and run drills with your team detailing the situation.
- Understand the potential negatives of the situation.
- Monitor media calls.
- Meet for status reports and update talking points.
- Keep your officials up to date on the situation.
- Let officials know when the story will run.
- Know who you are talking to and get feedback from clients.

"The key thing is talking with one voice," Bolduc said. "How can you be the calming voice? You really need to be the expert and know how to give corners to your clients."

A presentation from Jana Hartline, environmental communications manager, and Amy Taylor, environmental, safety and quality communications, of Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc. was one of the final discussions of the evening.

Jana Hartline (left) and Amy Taylor (right) spoke before a group of students about the affects of environmental PR  the Toyota way (Andrea Ciurej/UNO).

Hartline and Taylor focused on "Environmental Public Relations - 'The Greener Side of PR.'" Hartline began the presentation by focusing on Toyota's vision for sustainability. Taylor continued the presentation with a discussion on "greenwashing" and the public relations challenges faced when tackling sustainability efforts.

Greenwashing is when a company or organization spends more time and money claiming to be "green" through advertising and marketing than actually implementing business practices that minimize environmental impact, according to the EnviroMedia Greenwashing Web site.

Taylor provided some tips for tackling "greenwashing" in a business:

- Be authentic and transparent when communicating your message as a company.
- Understand the difference between educational and promotional.
- Partner with third party advocates, such as social media, to relay your message.
- Be an advocate for yourself.

After the sessions, Maverick PR dined in Old Town San Diego for a mexican dinner.

Maverick PR dines at San Diego Old Town Mexican Cafe on Nov. 7. Not pictured: Alicia Kettleson, Andrea Ciurej and Yan He (Andrea Ciurej/UNO).


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