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I'm Kelcey Blanks, a 23-year-old public relations/marketing professional. I'm obsessed with all things social media. My family, friends and pup make my world go 'round. Clothes, jewelry and shoes make me happier than a kid on Christmas. And chances are I'm already planning my next meal in my head. 

Friday, January 31, 2014

Facebook PR introducing “WatchWith” party during Super Bowl

by Kelcey Blanks 

Excitement is in the air leading up to Sunday’s Super Bowl match up between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos, and Facebook is also finding a way to be a part of the big game. The public relations team at Facebook has decided to involve and reward celebrities who share updates, pictures, and posts with fans throughout Super Bowl XLVIII.

These famous people are connecting with fans during the “WatchWith” party. Celebrities and fans are being encouraged to use the hashtag #FBWatch during the game when posting anything relative to the game.

  • CNN host Rachel Nichols
  • Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams
  • New England Patriots defensive back Devin McCourty
  • Tennessee Titans cornerback Jason McCourty
  • Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo
  • Denver Nuggets guard Nate Robinson
  • Actor Josh Duhamel
  • Atlanta Falcons receiver Julio Jones 

This PR move by Facebook is to get famous people to start sharing “public content” much like what is done on Twitter. Facebook sees how well it is working out for other social media sites and is trying to get a foot in the door of celebrities using their site for more than just the typical fan page. Celebrities don’t usually do a lot of interacting with fans on Facebook, and the PR folks are trying to change that. And they figure it might not hurt to throw some incentives in while they’re at it.

That’s right, these celebrities aren’t in it for some fun and to socialize with fans over the biggest night in football. Facebook is planning on hooking them up with some awesome perks, including free advertisement, partnership with press to highlight those who participate in a feature about the “WatchWith” party, amplified promotion and the list goes on.

In order for the celebrities participating to receive these incentives, they have to achieve a few things on the social media site first. They must share a pre-game photo, answer fan questions, comment on the half-time performances, share their favorite commercials and promote the #FBWatch hashtag with fans.

It all seems simple enough, but it sounds strangely familiar. Sounds like Facebook may be taking a play straight from the Twitter playbook. And why wouldn’t they? Twitter’s interactive approach seems to be working very well for them. Celebrities and companies appear to be interested in Twitter’s approach for promotion and branding tactics. It is huge in the world of marketing, advertising and public relations. Twitter is also so fast-paced that is constantly changing and evolving, while Facebook has remained stagnant over the years. Even though Facebook claims to not be morphing into an exact replica of Twitter, they have recently added verified accounts, hashtags and are introducing trending topics

Facebook has over a billion users. Why do these semi-famous people need to be offered incentives to participate in an event that will probably help them gain an even bigger following? It all just seems like a promotional tactic to get people to switch from Twitter to Facebook.

Facebook has been all about changing in the last couple years, so maybe this might put them ahead of their competition. Or maybe, people will just realize that they prefer the original Twitter. As innovative as Facebook is, it shouldn’t be this hard to create something new and fresh for social media users to latch on to.

It seems like a good try by Facebook PR to try and shift Facebook in a new direction. It’s justifiable to give consumers what they want, and everyone appears to be interested in the interactivity that Twitter has to offer. I’ll be eager to see if the Facebook Super Bowl party is a success for the organization or a complete bust. It is time for the social media site to be making changes, I’m just not sure if ripping off Twitter is the way to go about it.


Friday, January 24, 2014

Building Your Brand as a PR Student

By Kelcey Blanks

This week I thought about public relations in general and what it means to me. I’m rounding out my last semester of college in May and I feel as though it’s really important to take as much out of these last few months as possible. Finding a job after college is a scary thought and I want to be as prepared as possible. But in a room full of 10 to 15 qualified public relations graduates, how am I going to differentiate myself?

In my time as a PR student, I have learned that a company’s brand sets them a part from competition and is perceived in various ways in the minds of consumers. Branding makes one company more unique than another. It solidifies the position of one company over another. When purchasing new shoes, I always have that one brand that is more prominent in my head compared to the rest. I want to be that shoe brand that sticks out to employers. I want to be the last one on their minds after a dozen interviews for a job position.

As public relations students, it is important to build our own brand professionally and personally before we are able to start a career in helping companies build their own. It is important to start thinking of yourself as a brand so that you can set yourself a part from future job competition. It is predicted that the public relations industry will experience major growth in the next few years, so stand out in a group of public relations students.

Don’t leave your image to chance. After all, we are public relations students. We should know how to manage a brand. I started thinking, if I were a brand, how would people perceive me? How would the “Kelcey Blanks brand” stand out in a group of 100 other graduates all vying for the same job?

Manage your presence on social media websites: And no, this doesn’t consist of updating your Facebook status to tell the world about the bar you went to last night. Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are all there for you to network and build relationships. Don’t just be on social media – engage in it. I started Twitter last year and frequently use it to communicate with public relations professionals. In the social media age that we currently live in, it is almost guaranteed that a future employer will look at your social media pages. Stand out from your competition by posting information that is relevant to a career in public relations.

Start a blog: Show employers that you are passionate about something. Update and post to your blog as often as possible so that you can stay ahead of the game professionally. This shows employers your writing skills and that you are capable of forming an opinion about a topic. Blogging can allow you to network with other professionals and can even lead to a career.

Develop your brand statement: So this may sound a little cheesy, but you need to think about how you see yourself before anything else. Come up with some adjectives and incorporate your career field. The Kelcey Blanks brand statement would be a “funny, fashionable and hardworking public relations student.”

Create a portfolio: I started creating my portfolio last year, and not only is it a reference for me to be able to look back on one day, it is something employers will be able remember you by. Emphasize the work that you believe will impress an employer. By simply updating your portfolio with present work and accomplishments, you already have a leg up on other competition that didn’t show up to the job interview with one. This will also show employers that you are organized and well managed.

In developing yourself as a brand, you have to decide what is most important and relevant to you and your career. What is valuable to me may not work for someone else. Branding is about finding out what works for you and what you believe will make you stand out in a sea full of other graduates. Make a list of your brand essentials and continue to update it when professional situations arise. Always remember to stand out. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

The black rhino auction and the involvement of public relations

by Kelcey Blanks

Unless you’re living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about the Dallas Safari Club selling a rare hunt for a black rhino. The topic of involvement of public relations in the ordeal was brought up in my nonprofit class earlier this week, so I began thinking how a public relations professional could’ve helped the situation.

Dallas Safari Club’s mission statement on its website claims to be all about the conservation of animals, yet the organization wants to help protect hunter’s rights. Any person in the PR industry can clearly see that the two are completely conflicting with each other.

Along with the obvious conflicting ideas, the DSC announces in a press release that they will be auctioning off a black rhino hunt at their convention that will in fact preserve the species. If you’re like me, you probably sat in utter disbelief while reading the press release. I’m sure the DSC was not expecting this press release to be read by anyone without a stake in the organization, but it went viral fast.

As someone learning about PR, this taught me a pretty big lesson. First of all, I am not aware if a PR professional was involved in creating the DSC mission statement, but it certainly did not seem like it. A mission statement is everything your organization stands for. It could’ve been worded and shaped better to create a sense of what the DSC is really about.

Second of all, the way this press release and the dozens of press releases after it were handled was embarrassing. If the organization you represent is about to auction off a black rhino hunt, you might expect some backlash. Therefore, it could’ve been better handled by creating a press release about the event and creating a separate backgrounder or position paper about the facts of the black rhino that many people may not be aware of. Instead of creating these dozens of press releases about what was said in the news about the DCS, they should have responded directly to the source to help get their side of the event across.

Since the beginning of the press release, the DSC has received numerous amounts of death threats. People around the world feel really strongly about preserving the 5,000 black rhinos that are still in existence and not sacrificing one for the greater good. The black rhino hunt was auctioned off at the event for $350,000, which was not as much as expected.

If the Dallas Safari Club’s goal was to gain publicity for the organization, they certainly achieved that. The black rhino auction was even joked about on an episode of the Colbert Report

If the goal was to gain support in preserving a species, I think the DSC has a long way to go and a lot of edges to smooth over. From here on out I think they should focus on reminding people why they are a nonprofit organization in the first place. Hopefully this has taught the DSC and other nonprofits what not to do.