If it doesn’t spread, it’s dead.

If it Doesn't Spread

Today the grand slam in advertising, PR, and digital com (let’s just call it all strategic communications – communication with a purpose) is content that spreads, goes viral and generates a lot of earned, free media.

So how does it happen? Can you create content that spreads

Let’s start with the core question, “Why do we share, post, tweet, retweet, pin, vlog, Instagram and every other manner of digitally sharing with friends, colleagues and peers?”

Social currency.

It’s not what the content says as much as it’s what the content says about us.

It says we’re in the know. Smart. Have the inside track. Ahead of the curve. Cool, Hip, Funny, Fashionable. We knew what color the dress was. Our sharable content shapes how others see us.

Picture1

That’s the core idea driving why some ideas stay, stick, tip and others wither and fade away.

Malcolm Gladwell ignited the concept in The Tipping Point – that singular, simple moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YFbkVL1X9M8

Chip and Dan Heath followed up with Made to Stick – why some ideas survive and others die. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bs9NbxJHV-w

And now Jonah Berger pulls it together with Contagious – why things catch on. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HfSs_hOAkzY

When you look at all three books you see a pattern, a few common characteristics which can help transform your communication – boost your idea’s chance of virality and put it on the fast track. Content worth sharing because it gives you, the sender, resender or writer social currency.

In other words, “How cool am I because I sent you this?”

Let’s take a look at how you can craft your content.

Is the content simple and concrete? Can the idea be expressed in a single sentence? Is it visually memorable? Can it be explained in human actions so that are easily understood and can be shared with consistent meaning?

 “You’re not you when you’re hungry. Snickers satisfies.”

Is the content a story? Stories stick. We have an innate need for narrative. We share stories, not pie charts.

Is the content remarkable and unexpected? Let’s combine story and unexpected.  Did you hear the story about the blender that turned an iPad into dust? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lAl28d6tbko Is the story message relevant to the product, candidate or cause? Is Blend Tec a powerful blender?

 


Post by: Frank Blossom, affiliate professor

FB Choker Shot 2014
Professor Blossom teaches advertising, PR, creativity and story making classes at GVSU. He developed his brand building skills as a copywriter and Creative Director at Leo Burnett, DArcy, Noble & Associates and Felder Communications Group. In 2001 he founded The Polishing Center and serves as Head Coach helping young creatives build their portfolios and interviewing skills. Additionally, Frank manages Frank Communications and serves as head referee for the Creative Smackdown – a creative competition showcase bringing together students from all over Michigan with advertising and design professionals. For the past 20 years, The American Advertising Federation, the National Student Advertising Competition, and other ad associations have tapped Franks experience to judge local, regional, national and international advertising competitions. Frank serves on the Board of Directors of the Womens Resource Center and facilitates visual and verbal communications for VSA. In 2010 Frank was awarded The Silver Medalthe American Advertising Federations highest honor to professionals who have made outstanding contributions to the advertising and marketing industry and who have been active in furthering creative excellence and responsibility in areas of social concern.

The Importance of Networking in APR

Networking

“Oh, I am a terrible networker.”

“Those types of things give me so much anxiety.”

“Those things don’t really matter any ways.”

What do these three sentences have in common? They’re all wrong. Networking is very important in any line of work and it isn’t as scary as you make it out to be. Basically since the beginning of time (or since the time you spent on the playground), you have been networking. How do you think you made friends? You told them a little bit about yourself, what you like, what you don’t like, etc. Then like magic, you became friends. See that wasn’t so scary. So, why can’t you muster up the courage to go to a networking event where there is probably food and wine? What is the million-dollar answer? You’re being a chicken. Or lazy. A lazy chicken.

Networking is important because it can lead to many different opportunities. You never know whom you are going to meet or who knows whom in a room full of people. Obviously some networking events are better than others, but you never know who can make an introduction for you. Every relationship you make matters, which is key to successful networking.

If you think you’re a horrible networker, don’t. It is important to have confidence, so fake it until you make it. Chances are there is someone else in the room that is just as nervous as you but you would never know. If you exude confidence, it will rub off on other people, create conversations and a make great first impression. If you’re still nervous, come prepared with a few easy talking points that will lead the conversation. But remember not everyone is going to be nice and responsive, that’s okay. Develop thick skin and understand that if someone doesn’t respond to your follow up or show interest in the conversation, it’s not personal.

The best thing about networking is that it pushes the boundaries of your comfort zone. Like stated above, you never know who you’re going to meet or where an opportunity is going to present itself. Networking allows you to meet all different types of people and learn more about what they do in the field. There may be a side of your profession you never thought to explore and a simple conversation can open your eyes to it. Nothing exciting ever comes from sitting in those four walls of your comfort zone, so knock them down.

To prove the above sentences wrong, it is pretty easy:

  1. “Oh, I am a terrible networker.” No one is a terrible networker; all you need to do is be yourself.
  2. “Those types of things give me so much anxiety.” Fake it till you make it!
  3. “Those things don’t really matter anyway.” Wrong, you never know who you’ll meet to give you advice, conversation or even a job.

So have fun and be confident! If you absolutely feel terrible at the event then leave. 9 out of 10 times, you will meet someone and the conversation will start flowing. But you’ll never know if you don’t put yourself out there!


ElleOHara
Eleanor O’Hara is a senior at GVSU majoring in advertising and public relations and minoring in business. She looks forward to growing her PR leadership and project management skills this year as CEO of GrandPR and a board member of GVSU’s PRSSA chapter. Eleanor’s professional experiences include interning with the American Diabetes Association in Chicago and 834 Design & Marketing in Grand Rapids. After graduation, she hopes to enter a Chicago PR agency and become an Account Executive. In her spare time, Eleanor loves to bake yummy treats, hangout with her friends and family, and watch reruns of One Tree Hill and Grey’s Anatomy.

Let’s Talk Internships

Internships

Let’s talk about APR internships…

Most of you know me as affiliate professor Peggy Howard, an instructor of public relations classes. You may not know, however, that I am also the coordinator for the internship program for the APR major. It’s the internship program that I would like to talk about. For some of you, the internship requirement may be a source of frustration or just a vast unknown.  Yet, scheduled at the right time in your education pathway, it will prove to be one of the most important classes of your academic career. Since understanding brings clarity, and usually acceptance, I have answered the Top Five most often asked questions about internships below.

How do I find an internship?

Laker Jobs is a good source for finding internship opportunities. Now is a good time to check for internships being offered this summer. Check back frequently. New opportunities are added regularly. Other sources are friends. Do you have a friend/acquaintance that has recently completed an internship? How did he or she find the internship? Is it an internship that might be of interest to you? Family is another good source of ideas. Family members may work for a company that is looking for an intern, or may have friends who know about an internship opportunity. Ask professors or your academic advisor. Do a Google search, and check out http://www.interninmichigan.com. Lastly, call a company where you would like to intern, and ask if they have an internship opportunity, or would like to. Many students have secured an internship opportunity by just asking for one.

How do I prepare for an internship?

Applying for an internship is the same as applying for a job. You need to have a resume and portfolio prepared for your job (internship) interview. Prior to the interview, develop goals you would like to achieve during your internship. What skills do you want to practice/hone? What work experiences are available with the internship? Discuss your goals/questions as a part of the interview process. There has been an increase in recent years of employers seeking interns to develop and/or manage their social media platforms. That’s good experience for students. However, there are other important skills to build in preparation for a career in public relations or advertising. Those include writing news releases and other communications tools, copywriting, design, planning, etc. The internship should provide you with a wide variety of experiences, allow you to develop portfolio items, and build the confidence you need for seeking a job in the career you choose following graduation.

Why did I have to complete two 300-level classes before applying for an internship for credit?

The primary purpose of an APR internship is for students to gain real-life work experience. If you haven’t completed skill-building classes offered at the 300 level, the internship experience will be diminished for you, as well as your employer. How will you be able to write a news release with skill and confidence if you haven’t completed the media relations writing class? Or write ad copy without first completing advertising copywriting?  There are two public relations classes (for those of you whose emphasis is public relations), and two advertising classes (for those of you whose emphasis is advertising) that are highly recommended for completion BEFORE registering for an internship for credit: CAP 321 – Media Relations Writing, and CAP 320 – PR Management and Cases. For advertising students, CAP 315 – Advertising Copywriting, and CAP 310 – Advertising Management and Cases.

What do I do to get approved for an internship for credit?

The first step is to secure the internship. Secondly, go to the School of Communications website – http://www.gvsu.edu/soc – and click on internships for students and review the information. Complete the Internship Agreement and submit it. You will be notified via email when your agreement has been approved. Keep in mind that there is no class to attend, just completing the internship is the class; however, you do need to register for the internship like you would any other class you are completing. Once your Internship Agreement has been approved, I will issue you a permit to register for the “class.” You must be approved, and register for the internship BEFORE completing the internship. Other questions? You can email me at howardp@gvsu.edu, or stop by my office during office hours.

Why does the APR major require an internship before graduation?

Once an internship has been completed, you and your employer complete on online evaluation regarding the internship. Students are also required to write a 1,000 word essay about their experience. There is a consistent theme in the hundreds of evaluations and essays I have read in recent years. Like, “this internship has prepared me for seeking a job after graduation. I am grateful that Grand Valley requires an internship,” and, “I wasn’t sure that I had chosen the right major until I completed the internship. Now I am anxious to graduate and start my career.” GVSU requires an internship because it is essential to your education and prepares you for a successful, fulfilling career.

Yes. Securing an internship can be a challenge, but consider it practice for searching for a job. Use it to stop procrastinating on developing a job-winning resume and portfolio. Look at it as an opportunity to practice your interview skills. Completing an internship is an important component of your APR major. Embrace it. Be enthusiastic. Make the most of it. It will be a decision that you won’t regret.


 

Post by: Peggy Howard, affiliate professor

image
Peggy Howard is an affiliate professor in the School of Communications. She teaches public relations classes for the APR major, and serves as the APR internship coordinator. This is Professor Howard’s tenth academic year at GVSU. Prior to joining the GVSU faculty, she spent 20 plus years in health public relations and public relations firm work.