Before we say our goodbyes, we have one final video to share. Head to https://vimeo.com/147618297 to see Charles and Donny’s amazing story!
Lastly, the Elevate team would like to express how much of an honor it has been to work with Capital Area Special Olympics of Louisiana (CASOL) this semester. It has been a long journey, but we are pleased with the result of our campaign! We evaluated that we reached our two main goals: to raise funds and awareness for this awesome nonprofit organization that serves seven parishes in the capital area. We believe that the mission of this organization is of the utmost merit and have been inspired by the athletes as well as the dedicated CASOL staff. Thank you to our instructor, Dr. Jensen Moore, for your guidance throughout the semester.
Though it seems like just yesterday that the Elevate team met with Charles Guillory, the area team leader for Capital Area Special Olympics of Louisiana (CASOL), for the first time, it is time to wrap up our campaign and the fall semester. We look forward to presenting all of our research findings and recommendations to our Manship 4005 class, Dr. Moore and the CASOL team this week. We also look forward to seeing how awareness and funding for CASOL increases in the upcoming year.
Through our service-learning public relations campaigns course this semester, we have gained invaluable experience in the following areas: public relations research, event planning, design, evaluation and public relations writing.
Public Relations Research. We created our primary and evaluation research instruments via Qualtrics, applying concepts from our public relations research class. After conducting our research, we analyzed the results and presented them to the client and our class. The Elevate team brainstormed ways to increase awareness, increase funding and differentiate CASOL from other branches of the Special Olympics organization. These were all issues that we identified in our initial survey. In addition, we were also able to identify our target audience. We created an infographic of “Maggie” to establish a visual representation and reinforce to our client who are target audience is.
Event Planning. On Sunday, November 15, Elevate teamed up with Gateway Communications and Thrive PR to host Raise the Roof, an event benefitting CASOL, Big Buddy Program and Youth Oasis. This kickoff event took place at Tin Roof Brewery and featured local food trucks, outdoor games, Tin Roof beer and a silent auction. Maria Fournier, Elevate’s event director, evaluated Raise the Roof as successful, estimating around $3,500 in profits to CASOL from this event. CASOL plans to use the funds from Raise the Roof towards its December area bowling tournament. The cost of the event, which is held over three days, is in excess of $3,500.
Design. Our design director, Jasper Cicero, created an infographic, detailing the results of our primary research. He also created a new logo unique to CASOL to be used on all promotional material and social media. In addition, he created a new brochure specific to CASOL. The brochure includes a donation card that can be easily cut out and mailed directly to CASOL. The brochure includes CASOL’s new slogan, “what we raise here, stays here.”
Evaluation. Liz Hilton, Elevate’s strategy director, critically evaluated CASOL’s communication efforts and determined that CASOL would benefit from a completed social media content calendar for the upcoming year. In addition, she created a content calendar for posts on CASOL’s Facebook and Instagram in the weeks and days leading up to Raise the Roof. Most importantly, Liz developed CASOL’s new slogan, “what we raise here, stays here,” to reinforce where donations to CASOL go.
Public Relations Writing. This experience has given the Elevate team the opportunity to perfect our AP style writing skills. Elevate’s writing director, Bianca Smith, developed a media kit for CASOL that includes a press release template, CASOL fact sheet, media advisory, CASOL history and ready-to-use photos with captions. This media kit will allow CASOL to streamline communication more easily in the future.
Most importantly, we have gained an enhanced sense of civic responsibility through our service-learning experience. We have kept the PRSA member statement of professional values at the forefront of our minds, focusing on being advocates for our client. This semester we have represented CASOL, serving the public interest while keeping our client’s best interest in mind.
Service-learning has allowed us to act as public relations professionals this semester and see how our work has benefited a local nonprofit organization. Youth.gov lists some of the following benefits to participants of service-learning: builds character, increases responsible behavior, improves academic outcomes, promotes a connection between school and community, and improves one’s ability to set and achieve goals. At Elevate, we believe we have received all of those benefits and more.
This week we created a video blog to share our experience working with CASOL this semester. Our video blog will give you a chance to hear from the entire Elevate team. Please visit the following YouTube address to view Elevate’s video blog: https://www.youtube.com/edit?action_reinstate=1
Ethics and professionalism are applied to some degree in all careers, no matter the field or location. These two principles should be rooted within each company’s foundation and have an overall indication on the performance of the internal environment. As we at Elevate understand, the principles of ethics stretch far beyond the workplace and affect personal decision making as well. In short, ethics are necessary to consider in all aspects of life.
So what are ethics?
According to an article published by Santa Clara University, ethics can be divided into two different definitions. First, ethics is the reference of right and wrong, changing from person to person and impacting their decision making and what they “ought to do.” This definition is the one people recognize the most as it alludes to someone’s fairness, virtues etc. Second, ethics is the study of someone’s standards. These standards stem from laws and social norms and require individuals to examine their own moral compasses.
However, within the public relations industry, the ethics that are applied to our daily practices resort from the second definition. According to the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), the code of ethics serves as a guide and a helpful set of rules that should determine how we operate within the PR industry. PRSA’s code of ethics hold all public relations professionals to a higher standard not only for their own good but for the good of their clientele and their target audiences.
A code of ethics cannot ensure a healthy internal environment with a positive output without an inkling of professionalism.
Professionalism is a harder philosophy to pin down, and an article in U.S. News describes this perfectly. According to the article, professionalism is not something taught in school, rather it’s something a person picks up based on his or her own intuition stemming from observations. In another article by mindtools.com, professionalism is “the conduct, aims, or qualities that characterize or mark a profession or a professional person.” The article also breaks down the key factors of professionalism: specialized knowledge, competency, honesty and integrity, accountability, self-regulation and image.
All of these components are key to signifying a strong sense of professionalism and not only foster a strong relationship with a PR professional’s clientele, but it also serves as a minor component affecting the company’s overall reputation. Professionalism goes hand in hand with keeping your firm’s reputation and your personal reputation in mind.
Elevate Communications has been demonstrating and living up to these values and principles since day one of our campaign project. Working with Capital Area Special Olympics of Louisiana has taught us many things about professionalism and client relations. We have also learned the value in building a relationship around strong communication and mutual respect. Elevate has utilized PRSA’s code of ethics to deliver a campaign that has succeeded in raising awareness and funds for our nonprofit client.
Ethics and professionalism go hand in hand. Both of these philosophies contribute to the firm’s overall performance and reputation among clientele and future clients. When a PR professional has a strong sense of professionalism and a solid ethical base, there is no limit to how much good can be accomplished.
Evaluation is the second to last step in the ROPES process and a key tool in measuring the success of an organization, communication plan, event or campaign. Here at Elevate, we have monitored the success of our campaign throughout the semester. As account executive, it has been my responsibility to monitor the effectiveness of Elevate’s efforts each week and compare these efforts with client expectations. The most important part of this evaluation process has been measuring how well our team has set goals and achieved objectives specified by our client, Capital Area Special Olympics of Louisiana (CASOL).
Link the results to business outcomes that further the achievement of organizational goals.
Credibly merchandise the impact of those results to those who fund public relations programs.
Set smarter objectives, develop better strategies and employ more compelling and engaging tactics.
Make midcourse program adjustments and corrections.
Adapt their measurement approaches over time in light of changing objectives, new competitors and emerging best practices.
Some evaluation methods used by PR professionals include the following: surveys and polls, content analyses, communication audits, focus groups, field observations, case studies and triangulation.
In the article, “Evaluation Techniques Used in PR,” Karen Johnson explains that surveys are used to gauge the public’s attitudes about and awareness of a company or organization. In the article, Johnson stresses the importance of surveying the public before your public relations program begins to have a baseline measurement. It is also important to conduct a post-program survey to see how attitudes have changed and awareness has increased or decreased. Following this advice, our group created an initial survey through Qualtrics, evaluated the data and created infographics to make it easier for our client and audience to understand our results. This process is explained in Elevate’s blog Visual Communication in PR Research: Capital Area Special Olympics of Louisiana Infographic.
To evaluate the success of our campaign, we created an evaluation research instrument to distribute at Raise the Roof on November 15, 2015. This event benefitted the following local nonprofit organizations: CASOL, Youth Oasis and Big Buddy. This exit survey was passed out at the event. Elevate chose specific questions from the initial survey and modified them to measure the change in results from initial perceptions of CASOL.
Throughout the semester, we have also evaluated each other as co-workers and teammates. For each step of the campaign process, we have provided feedback on each other’s performance. When working with a group, it is critical to understand how your efforts and attitude are perceived by the other members. Feedback from the group gives each of us the chance to modify our behavior if other members feel like they are carrying too much of the work load.
In eHow’s article, How to Write a Performance Evaluation for a Co-worker, the author advises to always begin an evaluation of a coworker with a positive trait, introduce any issues or problems you have had working with the person and close on a positive note. If you state a problem, suggest a solution. In addition, criticism should be constructive! It is important to remember that an evaluation of a coworker reflects back on the person evaluating as well. While it is important to vocalize group issues, complaining too much about other group members can come off as petty.
In conclusion, it is important to realize the value of evaluation in campaigns and when working on a team. Measuring success helps agencies determine where they need to alter their methods and change their tactics.
With the emergence of new communication channels such as the Internet and social media, public relations practitioners have had to adapt to an ever-changing, speed driven environment. Media tactics have changed as communication channels have broadened, causing organizations to adapt and learn how to effectively use these channels and create new tactics. The question becomes: Are fundamental PR tactics dying actions, or are they further enhanced by the new these avenues?
Kelly Addis addresses this concept in her article “The Future of PR: Are Traditional Tactics Dead?” Addis explains that although it is imperative for PR practitioners to remain current on new trends and platforms, traditional tactics are still crucial to organizational communications. The emergence of new technologies is simply providing more outlets to further enhance organizational messaging.
Such growth and change provides Elevate with a variety of channels and tactics to disseminate Capital Area Special Olympics of Louisiana’s (CASOL) key messaging. Elevate has developed a plan to incorporate nontraditional media channels and tactics into CASOL’s communication plan to generate buzz around the organization. CASOL will no longer solely rely on traditional media to share its messaging. Instead, Elevate has recommended utilizing a combination of both traditional and new media tactics for the campaign.
As shown above, social media is shaping the way key audiences, reporters and others are receiving information. Broad Magnolias Public Relations explains that “[t]he introduction of tools like blogs and social media allow PR practitioners to develop a more accurate and personalized message to send to their audience.” These changes to PR channels and tactics provide nonprofits, such as (CASOL, the opportunity to disseminate messaging effectively at a low cost.
So what is a communication channel? How does it differ from a tactic and how will Elevate use these to benefit CASOL?
Business Dictionary defines a communications channel as the specific “… medium through which a message is transmitted to its intended audience, such as print media or broadcast (electronic) media.” A PR tactic is the specific action used to implement the overall plan. It is the “how” a strategy will be administered, explains PRNewser.
Basically, the channel is the mode of transportation for the specific action or tactic. For example, CASOL intends to utilize social media as a communication channel, specifically Facebook and Instagram, for its capital campaign. Specific “call to action” posts to Facebook and Instagram are the tactics used to disseminate messaging on this channel.
Elevate will predominately utilize social media, specifically Facebook and Instagram, to reach “Maggie,” CASOL’s target audience. This medium is cost-efficient and has a large reach. Additionally, Elevate will utilize the Internet in the form of an e-newsletter, an event, “Raise the Roof” and printed material, a new CASOL brochure, to communicate with “Maggie.” Below are samples of how social media will be utilized as a channel of communication and the specific tactics associated with each.
Image Attributed to Liz Hilton
Overall, Angie Orth explains the shift in PR tactics and channels best. The fight between traditional and new media is over. “In the past 10 years, we publicists have evolved from suspicion, indifference and even disdain toward non-traditional content creators – bloggers, pro Instagrammers, influencer types – to full-on acceptance, strategic integration and even paid campaigns,”says Orth in PR Tactics in 2015: What’s Changed & What We Can Improve.
As public relations practitioners, we are accepting of a shift in tactics. By embracing the change, we are able to communicate more effectively. Elevate would be doing CASOL a disservice not to incorporate these other outlets. Now that Elevate has established CASOL’s tactics and channels for communication, we must implement and evaluate the campaign. Next week we will delve into how to evaluate the campaign success.
In public relations, the development of effective strategies is key to the success of any campaign. So why are strategies so important? Strategies guide the specific tactics used to achieve the overall campaign goals. In “How to … Draft a Public Relations Strategy,” Joanne Barnett lists essential questions public relations strategies must address:
Whom are you talking to?
What do you want your target audience to do and why?
What are the key messages?
What platforms/ channels will you use?
When will you reach out?
What methods are best?
What is the budget?
How will you handle problems?
Evaluation: “How well did you do?”
Every client differs in the type of strategies needed to effectively communicate its key messaging. Such strategy types include media, communications and action strategies or the combination of one or more of these elements to ensure client need is met. To achieve Capital Area Special Olympics of Louisiana’s (CASOL) goal of increasing donations, Elevate is specifically utilizing communications strategies to clearly communicate with key audiences how that the organization is solely responsible for raising all of its funding.
Prior to establishing strategies, it is important to note the difference between a public relations strategy versus a tactic. Both concepts are interrelated, but a strategy is far more generalizable whereas a tactic is very specific. PRNewswer’s article, “What’s the Difference Between ‘Strategy ‘ and ‘Tactic?,”’ explains that a strategy is the “why” to a campaign and the tactics are “how” it will be implemented. Basically, tactics are the specific actions used to achieve the overall plan or strategy. It is vital to understand the difference in these concepts in order to create effective strategies and not just random, undeveloped actions.
Although there are several steps to strategy development, one key component is to ensure the strategies address key audiences. As Peter Panepento points out in “Developing a Modern Public Relations Strategy,” rather than rely on media material to disseminate messaging “Today’s nonprofit communications teams should instead be thinking about how they can be speaking to the people they most want to reach — whether those people are reporters, potential donors, or activists.”
So In order to create effective strategies, Elevate must consider CASOL’s target audience and tailor messaging specifically towards them. To do this, the Elevate team created “Maggie,” as the visual representation of this audience. By utilizing a tangible image, Elevate developed effective strategies for this group and is consistently reminded of who the firm was trying to reach. Maggie is a mother of two, age 25-50 with a bachelor’s degree and religious background, living in the capital area with a household income of $45,000 or more.
Since CASOL’s audiences are unaware of how the organization receives funding, Elevate intends to utilize communications strategies to establish clear messaging addressing funding. Our key messaging is centered around the phrase “What we raise here, stays here” to help really capture Maggie’s attention. Elevate will be utilizing social media, the internet, printed materials and an event as the channels for which this message will be communicated. The firm’s three main strategies are:
Inform key publics with information about how CASOL is funded, what parishes CASOL serves and where donations go,
Engage with audiences to ensure comprehension and retention of how CASOL is funded and
Encourage audiences to donate to CASOL by utilizing “call-to-action” tactics to increase donations to the organization.
Each of these strategies is designed to intrigue “Maggie” and effectively achieve CASOL’s goal to increase donations. These strategies are the “why” behind the tactic or specific action that will be taken to effectively communicate key messaging.
Overall, Meltwater puts it simply, “ The goal of a sound PR strategy is universal: deliver the right message to the right audience at the right time.”
Now that Elevate has developed a public relations strategy for CASOL, the team can further develop the communications plan through the use of specific tactics and channels to disseminate messaging. In next week’s blog, “Changing Times Call for Changing Tactics, PR tactics to Elevate Capital Area Special Olympics of Louisiana,” Elevate will address how nonprofits can best utilize evolving public relations tactics and channels to communicate effectively with key audiences.
To gauge public awareness of and attitudes toward Capital Area Special Olympics of Louisiana (CASOL), Elevate Communications determined that the most efficient method to reach a large amount of people and gather quality data would be to create and disseminate a survey. We created this survey in Qualtrics, an online survey service. Qualtrics took care of scoring the surveys and providing us with boring bar graphs of the data. However, we wanted to find a better way to explain the results of our survey to both our client and the class.
To do this, we created an infographic to provide a better visual representation of our data. In the article “9 Ways That PR Pros Can Capitalize on Infographics” Karl Gude, the director of information graphics at Newsweek for 10 years, says that infographics can be used to visually aid research on a press release or any other form of communication.
To better express the findings of our research, we decided to design an infographic. There are various ways of creating infographics and rather than using a paid offline software such as Adobe Photoshop but we wanted to explore free online ways of creating this content. Using the free online software Canva, we designed the info graphic below, which shows a visual representation of the demographics section of our research. Canva provides free access to many graphic elements. Most of the icons that the Elevate team used in our infographic were free Canva elements. Canva is also useful in the sense that users can import and upload their own png and jpeg images.
WalkerSands Communications is a firm that takes pride in their infographic designs. On their infographic page, WalkerSands states, “Infographics can be used as a valuable tool to help tell your story across bought, earned and owned media.” Stories are definitely told better when accompanied by visuals, and our team believes it is important to tell CASOL’s story with a visual element.
The goal of the infographic was to create a visually appealing way of showing the findings of our research. From the top, the first noticeable element is the state of Louisiana. In our research, we found that 95% of participants were Louisiana residents. This was the highest percentage out of all of the results and it was important to have the Louisiana state layer as the biggest visual element on the infographic. For the second image of Louisiana, we used an image that highlighted the location of East Baton Rouge Parish to show the client how close our audience was to the capital area. One of the biggest problems that our organization faces is the differentiation between Capital Area Special Olympics of Louisiana and the statewide Special Olympics of Louisiana organization. We found in our research that 78% of participants live in one of the six capital area parishes and that 92% of participants live in East Baton Rouge Parish.
Moving down the infographic, we used different sized graphic elements of the male and female gender to show higher female participation (80%) compared to male participation (17%). For the next three findings on the infographic, we wanted to use a banner graphic to show how high these percentages were. The banner look is reminiscent of a sports team’s championship banner. The middle section of the infographic is where the most icons are used. We used a book for the completed college statistic, a graduation cap for the bachelor’s degree statistic, a briefcase for the employment statistic and a big red “X” for the unemployment statistic. Each of these icons is free from the Canva application. Finally, the second largest section of the infographic is the statistics on religion. We found that 44% of our participants are Catholic and 34% are Christian. These numbers are huge, and we wanted to express the importance of this statistic with a large cross icon. When identifying our target audience and key publics, you can easily look at the top and bottom of the infographic and conclude that they are most likely a Louisiana resident with strong religious background.
The infographic gave us a visual representation of the research we conducted, but it still was not specific and clear enough to show our key public. We wanted to create a simple visual representation of our key public, and with Jensen’s suggestion “Maggie” was created. “Maggie” is a mother of two (or more) children, age 25-50, has an average yearly income of $45,000 or more, has a strong religious background, is a capital area resident and has at least a bachelor’s degree. “Maggie” is our ideal key public and we were able to represent her in a simple and visually appealing way.
Writing has always been a classic form of communication. However, with the rise of social and digital media, writing has evolved to cater to the demand for fast and accessible information. The world now communicates within the confines of 140 characters and short news articles. This evolution has also influenced the public relations industry to create press releases and other deliverables that are more straightforward. For Capital Area Special Olympics, Elevate Communications has been developing content that is clear-cut and perfectly molded in our digital world.
Writing in public relations is a crucial aspect to the business. According to Forbes.com, public relations is a business with a foundation built on persuasion. In order to effectively persuade an audience, press releases and media alerts must stand out and deliver with effective jargon that tailors to a specific audience.
In an article posted by marketingprofs.com, it presented the formula to creating a promising press release broken down in a handful of steps. One of the most important elements was to add “flavor” or an eye-catching detail to a press release. However, it is crucial that public relations professionals have the five W’s (who, what, where, when and why) listed before any additional flavor is added.
Elevate Communications has been working closely with CASOL for the past two months and have been drafting press materials and other deliverables that will give CASOL the attention it deserves. The attention and awareness that these materials will deliver to CASOL will not only impact the organization, but the Baton Rouge community as a whole. Elevate has also been working around the clock to create fliers and drafting e-mail blasts to bring in more potential donors to the non profit.
However, while drafting all of these materials, it is imperative to be aware of who the key publics are. In an article published by entrepreneur.com, knowledge of the target demographic is one of the keys in created a top-notch press release.
Elevate Communications has been using the findings from our primary research to identify the target audience for Capital Area Special Olympics. During this process, Elevate discovered that upper middle class mothers and families are the key public for CASOL. From that point, our press releases are set to be released to media outlets that have that specific target demographic, including local news stations, newspapers and “mommy bloggers.”
Elevate Communications’ relationship with Capital Area Special Olympics is just getting started. With their key publics in mind and our campaign plan just starting to mold, Elevate is prepared to take CASOL and propel their brand to make sure that their impact to the Baton Rouge community doesn’t go unnoticed.
For more information on Capital Area Special Olympics of Louisiana, check out their website and like them on Facebook!
In our communication framework at Elevate Communications, stewardship and quality client relations are necessities. Stewardship and client relations are all about the management and protection of the relationship between client and company. As we continue on in our public relations campaign with the Capital Area Special Olympics of Louisiana (CASOL), we have already realized neither of these can be learned by sitting in the classroom. Our service-learning opportunity at the Manship School of Mass Communication has allowed us to experience both of these practices for ourselves.
As public relations practitioners, we are running this campaign under the ROPES model. In this model, stewardship brings up the tail end of the process behind research, objectives, planning and evaluation. Stewardship can be broken down into four actions: reciprocity, responsibility, reporting, and relationship nurturing. In its entirety, stewardship means fostering a mutually beneficial relationship with stakeholders in order to promote growth for the client.
As we’ve held client meetings in the past few months, we’ve realized all of these are crucial, but especially listening and trying to understand their world.
In “5 tips for enhancing client relations” by Nicole Messier, published on PR Daily, Messier highlights the fact that excelling in client relations is not just for the public relations field, but for all careers. As we provide a new campaign for CASOL and they provide us with hands-on experience, I believe all team members at Elevate will grow as public relations practitioners. We’ve seen growth in our acceleration of the campaign, as well as meetings with the client.
During our last client meeting, we had to re-pitch our event idea, which is a major component of this campaign. As a class, we came up with the new concept of “Raise the Roof,” a food truck rally and fundraiser at Tin Roof Brewery in downtown Baton Rouge. Although we were all sold on our own idea, we needed to re-pitch it to our clients at CASOL.
As I began to explain the new event plans to our client and other CASOL team members, I could see slightly concerned, questioning looks on their faces. I immediately became concerned, and through each aspect of the event plans, I tried to explain the win-win situation in each, proving that this can be a profitable fundraising event.
Completely justified, they expressed their concern of deviating from the original plan. As they discussed these new possibilities, our team had to do something that is normally easy, but in the moment was exceedingly difficult: listen. We had to step back as a team and realize that we do not live in the nonprofit world on a daily basis, but our client does.
After working out plans and details of the event, we all were on the same page and left the meeting feeling at ease. But, as the event director, I do feel a pressure to steward resources and assets well for CASOL. I have a specific budget to work with, and I want to ensure through the rest of the campaign that setting up this fundraiser reflects our care for CASOL as a client. What stewardship and client relations really boil down to is management. Managing assets, resources and relationships is a balancing act, but we are learning that at a quick pace here at Elevate Communications.
If you have 15-20 minutes to spare, we ask that you please take the time to fill out the online survey that the Elevate team created to evaluate the public’s awareness, acceptance and action toward Special Olympics, specifically the Capital Area branch. We appreciate your time!