Spark PR’s Experience in Service Learning With The ALS Association.

As seniors in the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University, Spark PR was given a unique service learning opportunity, which provided each member of our team an experience to remember. As a team, we have worked hard to provide The ALS Association Louisiana-Mississippi Chapter with the best campaign possible to strengthen the association between The ALS Association Louisiana-Mississippi Chapter, its programs and services while attracting future supporters to ensure the organization’s continued success.

The ALS Association Louisiana-Mississippi Chapter is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to finding a cure for the ALS disease. This organization provides discounted or free programs and services to those with ALS. In the Louisiana and Mississippi areas, a Respite Care Program is available as well as home visits to assess patient needs. ALS, which is often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a terrible and 100 percent fatal disease that not only affect those diagnosed, but also their friends, families and caretakers.

In 2014, The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge became a worldwide campaign to raise money and awareness for The ALS Association. This viral campaign raised more than $15 million but once the Ice Bucket Challenge ended, many people assumed that enough money had been raised to help those with ALS. The funds raised were a huge step forward for this organization and The ALS Association was able to move one step closer to their goal: “To create a world without ALS”.

Our goal was to help promote the organization’s Red, White and Snow Gala, as well as other events, raise public awareness and assist with fundraising. Spark PR worked hard to increase awareness in Louisiana and Mississippi through social media, print media and television. We created a “Fast Facts” infographic, which provides the public with quick facts about Lou Gehrig’s disease, The ALS Association and how to get involved.IMG_4308

Spark PR assisted The ALS Association Louisiana-Mississippi Chapter in hosting an event at The Renaissance Hotel in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. We promoted the Red, White and Sneaux Gala through print, social and digital media. The event featured both live and silent auctions, a sit-down dinner, awards ceremony, live music and much more. The 2016 Red, White and Sneaux Gala raised more than $109,000, which is more than ever before. Spark PR is proud to have been part of such a successful event for a great organization.

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Although it is not over, Spark PR has learned so many new things while working with The ALS Association Louisiana-Mississippi Chapter. This experience was an eye-opener for the members of our team and we have certainly learned the importance of giving back to the community. This class taught us more than how to be successful in public relations; it also taught each one of us that working hard to help others really does make a difference. Spark PR began as a public relations school project but as we wrap up the semester, we realize that this experience will stay with us long after we graduate from LSU.

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To find out more about The ALS Association Louisiana-Mississippi Chapter:

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Lauren Scioneaux, Spark PR Design Director

Sources:

Here’s How the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Started. (August 2014). Retrieved April 27, 2016 from http://time.com/3136507/als-ice-bucket-challenge-started/

Patient & Family Services. (n.d.). Retrieved April 27, 2016 from http://webla.alsa.org/site/PageServer?pagename=LA_8_patient_family_services

Harrington, M. (2014, April 7). 7 top tips for successful infographics. Retrieved April 28, 2016, from http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/7_top_tips_for_successful_infographics_16262.aspx

 

Professionalism and Ethics in Spark PR

What Are Ethics?

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Ethics help individuals to “systemize, defend, and recommend concepts of right and wrong behavior” (Fieser, n.d.). Ethical theories are broken into three main categories:

  1. Metaethics – The study of morality. Looks into the foundation and scope of moral values
  2. Normative ethics – The study of ethical action. It helps to explain questions that arise when considering how one should act morally.
  3. Applied ethics – The philosophical examination of matters of moral judgment. Uses philosophy to choose the morally appropriate actions in daily life.

What about Professionalism?

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The concept of professionalism is closely tied to ethics. According to the website of the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management, “a profession is distinguished by specific characteristics, including master of a particular intellectual skill through education and training, acceptance of duties to a broader society than merely one’s clients/employers, objectivity and high standards of conduct and performance.” The latter part of that definition makes it clear that ethics is essential to defining a profession.

Though it may seem obvious, any profession requires professionals. Adhering to professional behavior simply means doing what is right and developing professionalism as a personal attribute is a great way to move towards an ethical approach to your public relations practice.

Development of Public Relations Ethics

Have ethics and professionalism always been important to public relations practitioners? No, but it is today. This is an important concept for anyone entering into the field to understand.

Edward Bernays introduced public relations to the world. Early on, public relations practices generated many ethical concerns. During this era, practitioners utilized press agentry to generate publicity at any cost. This approach to public relations resulted in the unethical early reputation of the practice. This reputation still lingers over the field. Today’s society often associates public relations practitioners with spin-doctors.

Modern-day public relations practitioners strive for sound ethical behavior in their professional lives. National associations for public relations practitioners have implemented both ethical and professional standards for all practitioners. These standards have helped to reform the public relations practices of old from immoral to ethically sound.

 Resources: Professionalism & Ethics

Many national associations for public relations practitioners provide their members with a code of ethics. This code is meant to serve as a guideline for these public relations professionals. Practitioners can look to these guidelines when trying to decide how to conduct themselves in their professional lives. The PRSA Code of Ethics is a widely used tool for all PR professionals. Private firms often reference this document when creating their business’ code of ethics. The PRSA Code of Professional Standards is resource that educates professionals on the six professional values of public relations.

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Spark PR aims to adhere to the six enumerated values of the profession. We currently serve as advocate for The ALS Association. As advocates, we are responsible for providing the public with honest and accurate information about the organization. We make ourselves accountable for all of actions during the course of the campaign and aim to serve the public interest. We also act within our area of expertise and defer to organizational executives when appropriate.

The Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) provides public relations students with a code of ethics. Students can utilize this code of ethics when they need assistance in choosing the right course of action. Students can also reference the six professional values when trying to identify the important aspects of the profession.

Members of Spark PR strive to adhere to all ethical and professional guidelines while carrying out our campaign. This commitment to ethical practices will compliment The ALS Association’s own high ethical and professional standards. We hope to build trust and have a prosperous and beneficial relationship with the client.

Follow The ALS Association Louisiana-Mississippi Chapter:

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Jessica McAlum, Spark PR research director

Sources:

Ethics in Public Relations: A Guide to Best Practices (2004). Retrieved April 19, 2016, from https://books.google.com/booksid=T8hF4mTRClAC&pg=PA9&lpg=PA9&dq=Global+Alliance+for+Public+Relations+and+Communication+Management,+“a+profession+is+distinguished+by+specific+characteristics,+including+master+of+a+particula&source=bl&ots=yTZsBzun7S&sig=B2T-8iD-NuUGo8yI25FMcHfInOU&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjz7LrzpqDMAhXpmIMKHQlYD3sQ6AEIHDAA#v=onepage&q=Global%20Alliance%20for%20Public%20Relations%20and%20Communication%20Management%2C%20“a%20profession%20is%20distinguished%20by%20specific%20characteristics%2C%20including%20master%20of%20a%20particula&f=false

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Ethics. (n.d.). Retrieved April 19, 2016, from http://www.iep.utm.edu/ethics/

Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Member Code of Ethics. (n.d.). Retrieved April 19, 2016, from https://www.prsa.org/AboutPRSA/Ethics/CodeEnglish/#.VlONDvmrTjZ

Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Statement of Professional Values. (n.d.) Retrieved April, 19 2016, from https://www.prsa.org/aboutprsa/ethics/codeenglish/#MemberStatement

Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) Member Code of Ethics. (n.d.). Retrieved April 19, 2016, from http://prssa.prsa.org/about/Advocacy/Ethics/

 

Evaluating Public Relations Campaigns With Spark PR

Written By: Allison Ewing, co-strategy director

Everyone wants success, but how do you measure success. A campaign or an event can seem successful on the outside but could be a fundraising bust and vice versa. This is why evaluations are necessary. Evaluating helps when gauging what is working for the campaign versus what should be eliminated from the campaign.

Evaluating is a continual process that starts before the campaign even does, continues on during and afterwards. It is important to create a baseline either by giving a preliminary survey or setting goals.

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Photo Provided by ShutterStock

Forbes lists 4 (mostly) free tools to help analyze data for evaluations:

  1. Google Analytics

Google analytics helps by showing their subscribers: demographics of users, daily visits to the website, how the website users were directed to the website and other valuable pieces of information. Google analytics helps to track the behavior of the user which is valuable in evaluating.

  1. Klout

Klout helps to measure the influence your online data is creating. It gives information on topics such as, how many people your brand is influencing. Klout also offers a social media map to show activity over the past 90 days. This is helpful to see when your audience was most receptive to content that was posted. Klout is helpful to get people to act and to tract these user’s interaction with the client.

  1. Wildfire’s Social Media monitor

WildFire offers a free social media monitoring that helps with comparing the number of likes, check-ins and followers from page to page. This website is helpful when comparing your brand to that of your competitors.

  1. My Top Tweet by TwitSprout

My Top Tweet does exactly what it sounds like it would, it ranks the top 10 most shared tweets. This site also tells the amount of times these top tweets were retweeted.

Forbes also featured Hootsuite as an extra evaluation application in the article. HootSuite is an analytic tool that offers a free dashboard to make managing social media activity easier. On the dashboard you can manage different accounts all in the same place while also receiving analytical information.

Spark PR has been using MailChimp and surveys to effectively evaluate the progress of ALS Louisiana-Mississippi Chapter.

MailChimp helps with tracking performance rates of mass emails sent out. It tells the average open rates, click rates and it monitor trends to see who has revieved the email, who didn’t and why they can also view who has unsubscribed from the service.

Surveys are good to use when first beginning and finishing a campaign. Surveys assess: awareness, attitudes and perception to the campaign. It is important to send a follow up survey to compare the final numbers to the beginning numbers.

Evaluating is important to showing the success or failure in different areas of a campaign. They help with showing the big picture to the client as well as creating better events in the future based off of past data. While Evaluating is not the most fun aspect of a public relations professional it shows how much of an impact we make for companies.

 

As a new public relations firm, Spark PR realizes that we may not have all the answers to our clients problems, but we do have the tools and resources to work as a team and solve these concerns to the best of our ability. For examples of Spark PR’s work, please follow The ALS Association Louisiana-Mississipi Chapter. Be sure and buy your tickets for ALS’s Red White and Sneaux Gala today.

To find out more about The ALS Association Louisiana-Mississippi Chapter:

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Allison Ewing, co-strategy director

sources:

The Muse. August 22, 2012. 4 Ways to Measure Your Social Media Success. Forbes. Retrieved from: http://www.forbes.com/sites/dailymuse/2012/08/22/4-ways-to-measure-your-social-media-success/#a76835b310bc.

 

 

 

 

Changes in PR Tactics, How Spark PR plans to spark The ALS Association

Written by Casey Ochoa, co-strategy director

With the changes in new communication channels such as digital and social media, public relations professionals have to adjust their tactics to this new environment. Tactics have changed throughout the years as well as broadened, making organizations adapt how to effectively use these channels for their tactics. So the question public relations professionals ask themselves is: Are traditional PR tactics dying or can they be further enhanced?

According to PRSA writer, Karen Addis, she address this question. She asks, “Are Traditional Tactics Dead?” She explains that PR professionals should remain on top of current trends in the marketplace, traditional tactics are still important for any organizational communication.

She makes her readers realize that tens of million people still watch the news, listen to the radio and read the newspaper every day. She notes that traditional PR tactics are still an effective way to reach key audiences.

Since PR tactics and channels are constantly changing  Spark PR is providing The ALS Association with a variety of channels and platforms to distribute their messages. Spark PR has created a plan to use traditional and nontraditional media in its communication efforts to generate awareness about the organization. Furthermore, Spark PR has showed The ALS Association how to utilize both traditional and nontraditional tactics for our campaign.

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Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com

Now the next question every organization needs to ask themselves is: How do we find the equilibrium between a world of traditional and new media? According to Grant Christian, it depends on the ultimate goal of the organization. If the ultimate goal of the organization is to reach a broad range of people, they should use traditional media. However, if you want to target a more narrow audience, then new media may be the way to go.

Spark PR plans to mainly utilize new media (social/digital), along with print and broadcast media. Our main social platforms are Facebook and Twitter to reach our target audience. Using social media is cost-efficient and has a large reach. Additionally, Spark PR will use MailChimp to created a e-newsletters, an event, the “Red, White & Sneuax” gala, printed materials, a new ALS sponsorship packet, promotional flier for gala, talking points for various organization endeavors and broadcast media.

Below are examples of how Spark PR has utilized social media to help accomplish our tactics and communicate with our target audience. Along with our printed material for the upcoming “Red, White & Sneaux” gala.

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 Image courtesy of The ALS Association Facebook page

Since tactics and channels are constantly changing, as public relations professionals we need to embrace this change and learn from it. Now that Spark PR has established The ALS’s Association tactics and channels for organizational communication, we must now continue to execute and evaluate our tactics and channels throughout our campaign.

Follow The ALS Association Louisiana-Mississippi Chapter:

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Casey Ochoa, co-strategy director

Sources:

Addis, K. (2014, February 1). The Future of PR: Are Traditional Tactics Dead? Retrieved April 05, 2016, from https://www.prsa-ncc.org/future-pr-are-traditional-tactics-dead

Americans Spending More Time Following the News. (2010). Retrieved April 05, 2016, from http://www.people-press.org/2010/09/12/americans-spending-more-time-following-the-news/

Thygesen, T. (2016, February 16). The New Communication Channel That Is Changing Business. Retrieved April 05, 2016, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/tinethygesen/2016/02/16/the-new-communication-channel-that-is-changing-business/#665b3c7457e7

How to use social media to attract consumers. (n.d.). Retrieved April 05, 2016, from http://www.marketingdonut.co.uk/marketing/online-marketing/social-media-and-online-networking/how-to-use-social-media-to-attract-consumers

 

Spark PR Implements PR Strategies with The ALS Association

Written By: Casey Ochoa, co-strategy director

Spark PR is at the point of the campaign where we start to develop our strategies to grow The ALS Association over the next year, and determining which strategies will best help achieve its goal. Spark PR has formed a strategic plan geared toward our three goals for The ALS Association: to increase comprehension of The ALS Association Louisiana-Mississippi Chapter’s programs and services, to increase positive attitudes towards ALS and to increase funds.

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Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com

In public relations, the forming of strategies is crucial for the success of any campaign. According to Patrica Lotich, there are five steps in creating an effective PR strategy. These steps are:

  • Discovery – who the organization serves and who in the community interacts with the organization.
  • PR Plan – developing your strategic planning process.
  • PR Policy – the process to communicate with the organization’s key publics.
  • Plan Implementation – implementing the plan by looking at the budget and timetable.
  • Evaluation – evaluate how well the plan is working.

Spark PR has developed all of these steps when creating its strategies. We have discovered that the organization mainly wants to interact with potential donors and sponsors, which lead us to forming our strategic plan. To reach ALS’s key publics, we plan to use print and social media directed at its key publics to promote the organization and it’s fundraising events. Our second strategy to reach its key publics is to create opportunities for the public to be exposed to the ALS Association. Our final strategy is to promote all fundraising events and encourage donations/support using traditional and social media messaging directed toward Baton Rouge businesses and philanthropic individuals.

Now you may be asking yourself how we plan to put these strategies into effect. Spark PR has also developed several tactics to achieve our strategic goals. However, there is a distinct difference between PR strategies and tactics. According to Michael Porter of AdWeek, the main difference between a PR strategy and tactic are that a strategy is a larger overall plan that is comprised of several tactics, which are smaller and focused action items that are part of the overall plan. It is crucial for any PR campaign to understand the difference between the two in order to create effective strategies.

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Image courtesy of AdWeek.com

Each one of Spark PR’s strategies is designed to influence potential donors and sponsors and effectively achieve The ALS Association’s goal of increasing funds and awareness. Our strategies are the reason behind each one of our tactics that will be taken into effect throughout our entire campaign.

Now that Spark PR has developed our PR strategy for The ALS Association, our team can now further develop the communication plans through the use of specific tactics and channels to distribute messages to its key audiences.

Follow The ALS Association Louisiana-Mississippi Chapter:

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Casey Ochoa, co-strategy director

Sources:

Loth, P. (2014). Public Relations Strategy: Why Your Organization Needs One — The Thriving Small Business. Retrieved March 29, 2016, from http://thethrivingsmallbusiness.com/public-relations-strategy-why-your-organization-needs-one/

Aileron. (2011, October 25). Five Steps to Strategic Plan. Retrieved March 29, 2016, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/aileron/2011/10/25/five-steps-to-a-strategic-plan/#6248f9a961af

Wood, S. P. (2014, September 17). What’s the Difference Between ‘Strategy’ and ‘Tactic?’. Retrieved March 29, 2016, from http://www.adweek.com/prnewser/whats-the-difference-between-strategy-and-tactic/100447

Developing a communications strategy. (n.d.). Retrieved March 29, 2016, from https://knowhownonprofit.org/campaigns/communications/effective-communications-1/communications-strategy

Spark PR on Public Relations Research

Written By: Jessica McAlum, research director

The value and practical application of public relations research may not be obvious, but the foundation of any PR campaign is based on research.  Research should serve as the basis for all strategic decisions within the campaign.  The graphic below from “Effective Public Relations” textbook explains that research is the first step in the four-step process to any effective PR campaign.

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Image courtesy of Effective Public Relations

The research portion of a campaign is critical to its overall success. Unveiling the practical applications of PR research should help to explain why it is so crucial.  Research allows PR firms to identify key information needed for strategic campaign planning. Research can help to:

  • Create a problem statement to ascertain what problem the PR practitioner is there to fix.
  • Identify target markets  – including detailed demographic and psychographic information on those markets.
  • Identify effective media channels to reach respective markets.
  • Identify current behaviors, attitudes and knowledge of key publics.
  • Justify a firm’s decisions to a client.
  • Develop strategic public relations activities.
  • Show results and measure impact of PR activities.
  • Allow for two-way communication with the public.

Research can be primary (conducted by researcher) or secondary (conducted by a third party). Spark PR chose to utilize both primary and secondary research methods in our campaign with The ALS Association. We used secondary research on ALS disease to identify demographic information on patients, costs associated with the disease and information on the organization. We then utilized a primary research method and distributed a survey to the public.

Data derived from research can be qualitative or quantitative .  The type of data derived from research is contingent on the chosen research method. Qualitative research methods include in-depth interviews, focus groups, case studies and participant observation. Quantitative research methods include Internet, telephone and mail surveys, comment cards and feedback forms. The characteristics of each type of data are explained in the diagram below.

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Image courtesy of Oswego City School District Regents Exam Prep Center

We  distributed a survey using Qualtrics as our research instrument to gather quantitative data from The ALS Association’s publics.  We asked respondents about their attitudes, knowledge and behavior regarding our client. After analyzing our survey results, we were able to identify the target demographic for our campaign. We were also able to identify the most effective strategic communication channels to reach our target audience. If our client wants justification behind these choices, we can refer them to our research results.

The value and practical application of research on the public relations profession is profound. It is our hope that this blog has explained the basic benefits of research and why it is needed to plan a successful public relations campaign. More information on public relations research and its applications can be found here.

 

Follow The ALS Association Louisiana-Mississippi Chapter:

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Jessica McAlum, Spark PR research director

SOURCES:

Bowen, S.A., Rawlins, B. J., Martin, T. J. (2016). Mastering Public Relations (1st ed.).   Retrieved March 12, 2016, from http://2012books.lardbucket.org/books/public-relations/s09-public-relations-research-the-.html

Broom, G. M., Cutlip, S. M., & Center, A. H. (2006). Effective Public Relations (9th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall.

Qualitative vs. Quantitative Data. (n.d.). Retrieved March 12, 2016, from http://regentsprep.org/regents/math/algebra/ad1/qualquant.htm

 

 

 

The Art of PR Writing from Spark PR.

Written By: Allison Ewing, co-strategy director

Writing has always been a valued form of communication. Lengthy letters were a primary source of communication before the invention of technology.  Modern technology has changed the way people communicate.Today writing has been greatly condensed. Do not let the length of today’s writings trick you because public relations writing is crucial to success.

There are different types of written communication that PR professionals use. Some examples include: press release, social media posts and newsletters.  Spark PR  has compiled basic principle tips for public relations writing.

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Picture Provided by: brandignity

PR in Your Pajamas  reminds writers of the: inverted triangle, strong writing techniques, how to write to an audience and use of strong headlines.

Inverted triangle is a form of journalistic writing where the: who, what, where,when, why and how of a story comes first.

Strong writing can be accomplished by being specific and using active verbs. These principles make any writing piece seem more assertive, memorable and interesting.

When writing to an audience, messages will be better received when tailored to specific publics. Knowing who your audience is will determine the way you write.

Strong headlines are what catches the reader’s attention. These are critical because a headline will either draw a reader in or turn them away.

As a new public relations firm, Spark PR realizes that we may not have all the answers to our clients problems, but we do have the tools and resources to work was a team and solve these concerns to the best of our ability. For examples of Spark PR’s work, please follow The ALS Association Louisiana-Mississipi Chapter.

To find out more about The ALS Association Louisiana-Mississippi Chapter:

Facebook

Twitter

YouTube

044406a

Allison Ewing, co-strategy director

Sources:

Elena. “5 Top Tips to Write Effectively for PR.”PR in Your Pajamas: Practical Publicity for Entrepreneurs.”  Retrieved March 9, 2016, from http://prinyourpajamas.com/write-effectively-for-pr/