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

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Spark PR on Stewardship and Client Relationships

Stewardship is defined as “the activity or job of protecting and being responsible for something.” As a PR agency, Spark PR is responsible for creating a public relations campaign for the ALS Association Louisiana-Mississippi Chapter. Our agency has a duty to protect the organization’s image, however, without first establishing a relationship with the client, ALS is not likely to trust us with its image.

In the short amount of time Spark PR has worked with ALS, our agency has already developed a strong relationship with the organization. We make sure to maintain this relationship through weekly meetings, phone calls and text messages. Even if our agency does not have any specific questions or materials to walk through with our client, Spark PR always makes a point to check in via email or phone call. The course syllabus explains that after completion of this course, students will be able to “establish and maintain positive client relationships and work as a part of a public relations team.” Though the course is not yet complete, Spark PR is already more confident in our relationship building abilities.

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Image courtesy of Pixabay

In an article from PRDaily, Nicole Messier describes five tips for enhancing client relationships.

  1. Weekly meetings, whether in person or over the phone, should be more than just a rattling off of the to-do list. Spark PR meets with ALS either in person or over the phone at least once a week. Our agency makes sure to maintain a two-way conversation, in which we ask for feedback and suggestions rather than simply “rattling off of the to-do list.”
  2. Schedule proactive brainstorming sessions with the client. Even if Spark PR doesn’t have a specific topic to discuss with ALS, we still meet weekly to share thoughts and discuss ideas.
  3. Strike a balance of getting to know the client personally and professionally. Rather than jumping right into business, Spark PR always takes the time to engage in small talk with our client for the few first few minutes of each meeting. Whether it’s “how was your conference?” or “are you having a good week?,” we do our best to get to know our client on a personal level.
  4. Don’t let weekly meetings become your only touch point with the client. Though we do meet with ALS in person or over the phone weekly, Spark PR is in constant contact with our client. We email or text our contacts at ALS daily.
  5. Remember to do “PR” for yourself. Spark PR wants to make sure our client trusts the work we are doing. Therefore, we keep ALS informed of the progress we have made and the success we have achieved. Whether it’s a good grade on an assignment or an engaging social media post, Spark PR always maintains two-way communication on chief milestones.

As future public relations professionals, the ability to establish and maintain client relationships is one of the most important skills we will learn. Our work with ALS thus far has given us valuable experience, and we hope to establish a lasting relationship.

Follow ALS Louisiana-Mississippi Chapter:

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Anne Claire Aaron, account executive

Sources:

Messier, N. (n.d.). 5 tips for enhancing client relations. Retrieved March 02, 2016, from http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/5_tips_for_enhancing_client_relations__12299.aspx

Spark PR on civic engagement and social responsibility

Written By: Maria Connolly, event director

Public relations classes teach prospective college graduates how to do many things. These classes focus on writing, the media, crisis management and community relations. Working with the nonprofit ALS, Spark PR constantly engages with the community and actively learns what social responsibility in public relations means in real world contexts.

Civic engagement is defined by the actions used to identify and address issues that concern the public. This definition, taken straight from The American Psychological Association, speaks for each PR firm that represents a nonprofit.

Spark PR’s client, The ALS Association Louisiana-Mississippi Chapter, engages in civic responsibility through their role in health care in our community. The ALS Association is the primary resource in Baton Rouge for patients immediately diagnosed with ALS until their battle with the disease concludes. The nonprofit also offers support groups for patients and caregivers of the disease.

The Business Dictionary defines social responsibility as the obligation of an organization’s management toward the welfare and interests of the society in which it operates. The ALS Association’s mission reflects this definition through its use of community outreach and programs and ALS advocacy. ALS does this through posting patient and caregiver testimonials, which can be read on its website.

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Image taken from Stories of Courage.

The importance of civic engagement and social responsibility stretch far beyond the definition and study in the classroom. Each PR professional manages the line between their clients’ needs and the communities’ well being.

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

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Maria Connolly, event director

 

Spark PR Demonstrates Expertise in Our Field Through its Work With ALS

Written By: Anne Claire Aaron, account executive

As Manship students and soon-to-be public relations professionals, it is safe to say that we have become pretty familiar with PRSA members’ core values. According to the PRSA Member Statement of Professional Values, expertise is one of the six core values that should guide our behaviors as public relations professionals. Expertise refers to acquiring and responsibly using specialized knowledge and experience. Through continued professional development, research and education, we advance the profession. As public relations experts, we also build mutual understanding, credibility and relationships among a wide array of institutions and audiences.

After completing the course learning outcomes listed in the MC 4005 syllabus, we should be able to establish and maintain positive client relationships and outcomes as part of a public relations team. This is just part of what it means to exhibit expertise in the public relations field. Though it is only the fifth week of the semester, we have already worked as a team to establish a relationship with our client, The ALS Association Louisiana-Mississippi Chapter, and we will continue to work to maintain this relationship.

The syllabus discusses four ways PR professionals demonstrate expertise: writing, thinking, research and deadline orientation/organization. Over the past five weeks, our team has demonstrated each of these, but recently we have specifically focused on research. Through our research, we want to find answers to the problems ALS is facing in order to serve our clients needs.

An article from Entrepreneur.com provides tips on demonstrating expertise in the public relations field. The first tip is, “understand the potential of public relations to manage perceptions.” In order to effectively serve the ALS Association’s needs, it is essential that we understand the public’s perception of the organization and work to ensure this is how the organization wants to be perceived.

The next piece of advice we are taking from Entrepreneur.com is, “be prepared for a crisis.” After meeting with our client, we realized that they do not have a crisis communication plan for their Annual Gala. Because ALS patients will be attending the event, it is crucial that our client knows how to properly handle any situations involving these patients illnesses.

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Image courtesy of MSLGROUP Global

As a new public relations firm, Spark PR realizes that we may not have all the answers to our client’s problems, but we do have the tools and resources to work as a team and solve these problems to the best of our ability.

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

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Anne Claire Aaron, account executive

Sources:

Crafting Your Story: Public Relations Expertise For Your Business. (2015). Retrieved February 10, 2016, from http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/244219

Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Member Code of Ethics. (n.d.). Retrieved February 10, 2016, from https://www.prsa.org/aboutprsa/ethics/codeenglish/#.VrvQcjaodFI