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.




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.


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





Lauren Scioneaux, Spark PR Design Director


Here’s How the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Started. (August 2014). Retrieved April 27, 2016 from

Patient & Family Services. (n.d.). Retrieved April 27, 2016 from

Harrington, M. (2014, April 7). 7 top tips for successful infographics. Retrieved April 28, 2016, from



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.

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:





Allison Ewing, co-strategy director


The Muse. August 22, 2012. 4 Ways to Measure Your Social Media Success. Forbes. Retrieved from:





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.

Screen Shot 2016-03-14 at 11.27.14 AM

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


Bowen, S.A., Rawlins, B. J., Martin, T. J. (2016). Mastering Public Relations (1st ed.).   Retrieved March 12, 2016, from

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




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:





Allison Ewing, co-strategy director


Elena. “5 Top Tips to Write Effectively for PR.”PR in Your Pajamas: Practical Publicity for Entrepreneurs.”  Retrieved March 9, 2016, from