The benefits of social media and an online presence.

Archive for September, 2013

Event Planning Stress: You’re Doin’ It Right

Stressed out? You should be. At least according to CareerCast’s list of most stressful jobs in 2012. I doubt one year changes very much for Event Coordinators, whose job came in at number six.

It makes sense, though! To be a great public relations expert and plan a spectacular event, a coordinator must strive for the best and settle for nothing less. A type A personality lends itself to a perfectionist nature and it’s that exact nature that creates a successful event. However, the stress that comes with it may be too much to handle.

So, here I am again, probably one of the most stressed people in Salisbury, MD, ready to offer you helpful tips to relieve stress.

1.) Build A Team: Surround yourself with positive and motivated people. If you assign someone a task, you should never still be worried about it getting done. This implies that you don’t fully trust the person who is responsible for seeing it through. The more you can delegate tasks to others, the less stress you will feel.

2.) Make Lists: Have a to-do list that you can refer back to throughout the planning process and time tables to keep you on track. Use resources such as Dipity to mark the dates of major tasks and the final event. Have a list of what to do for each item of your original to-do list. For example, if acquiring food for the event is on the major list, create a smaller list with items such as, research caterers, gather food estimates, and call to make reservation. As an event planner, you must leave nothing unplanned.

3.) Remember You: An often overlooked tip is to not forget to take care of yourself. Don’t skip meals or rely solely on coffee. Considering I tend to do just that, it may be hypocritical of me to lecture on staying healthy during the event planning process but it’s important.

4.) Let Go: Recognize that you can’t control everything. Don’t stress over problems just move on to solutions. Do all that you can and let go of everything else.

Stay happy.

Oh, You’re A Communications Major?

“If a young man tells his date how handsome, smart and successful he is – that’s advertising. If the young man tells his date she’s intelligent, looks lovely, and is a great conversationalist, he’s saying the right things to the right person and that’s marketing. If someone else tells the young woman how handsome, smart and successful her date is – that’s PR.” – S. H. Simmons

As a Communications Arts major at Salisbury University, I often hear outsiders or business students commenting on the pointlessness of a degree in Communications. “You already know how to communicate.” “What are you going to do with a degree in that?” “You’re not going to be able to get a job.”

Again, as a studious P.R. student, I thank them for their input and refrain from letting them know that they are clearly wrong. If you like science, you get a science degree to learn the process behind it and hone your skill so you can work in the field that you love. What people don’t get sometimes is that is exactly what I am doing. I enjoy people; I enjoy speaking; I enjoy mediating and conflict resolution; I enjoy planning; all of these are aspects of public relations.

So, what am I going to do with a degree in Communication Arts? Or Public Relations?
Anything.

I’m going to do anything I want because the options are endless. Specifically for me, I could be a wedding planner, a fund-raiser, an account executive, a speech writer, a social media coordinator, or a corporate conference planner. My friends could be journalists, counselors, sales managers, or lobbyists. I guess that counters the statement of me not being able to find a job.

I guess what I’m trying to say is don’t be discouraged. You’re not a Communications major because Mom and Dad need you to have a college degree or because you’re lazy. You’re doing what you love. I get it. The business student or the law student will probably if not certainly make more money than I do in the future, but I’ll make more money than my best friend teaching English to Arabic-speaking students in Jordan. Do you think she loves her life any less than I love mine? Do you think she regrets her choice of major? The answer will always be no.

So when you get asked questions like the ones I’m asked, just keep learning, keep planning, and if only for once, stop listening.

Successful Event Planning: Do’s & Don’ts

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When planning an event that’s a few months or even a year away, it can always be tempting to keep putting things off. Or to have a to-do list and revisit each item in your mind as opposed to actually checking them off.

Right now, I am in the process of planning A Silent Night Out auction with Delmarva Public Radio. So I’ve come up with some basic do’s and don’ts of event planning that directly relate to my experience.

DO’S
1.) What: Do decide what the event will be. What do you hope to accomplish? Don’t just say, “We’re going to have a bake sale!” Is your goal to fundraise or is it to encourage volunteers to help out with your organization? Because a bake sale is a fundraising event. Tailor your event to the needs of your organization and during each step of the event planning process, refer back to your original purpose to guide you.

2.) When: Do establish an exact date for the event as soon as possible. All other elements of the event will revolve around this basic detail. For example, the title of The Silent Night Out auction was chosen because the date, December 8, was chosen first. The winter and holiday theme first the “when” of the event. Find out if other community events or significant holidays are occurring around the same time and schedule around them.

3.) Where: Do secure a location as soon as possible. Venues often book months in advance and, as in the auction’s case, sometimes require a written proposal of what the event will be and how many people are expected to attend.

DONT’S
1.) Don’t confirm until you have confirmed! Twice! Before scheduling or booking something outside of your organization such as a band or catering, confirm the date and time with the venue as well as your own organization. The worst PR is to waste someone’s time.

2.) Don’t wait to promote your event. Once you have the basics confirmed, begin making flyers or posting on social media. Movies send out teaser trailers to peak an audience’s interest. Then later they release the actual movie trailer closer to the release date. You should do the same! Get the public interested and involved. Make sure they have it on their calendars.

3.) Don’t procrastinate. Event planning does not have to be as stressful as we make it. The last week before the event should not be when you are rushing around doing things that you’ve had on your to-do list since the very beginning. If you have small tasks, do them first. If you have to wait for another task to be done before you can get to it, then use that as your motivation to begin on that task instead.

Let’s see if I can take my own advice and make The Silent Night Out auction the least stressful event of my year. I’ll keep you guys updated!

The Wonderful World of Podcasting

As if you haven’t had enough of me already, now you get to hear my voice! Check out my first podcast demo, a quick reading of my blog post titled “No One Responds to Your E-mails.” I’m trying out Soundcloud for the first time.

Leave a comment if you have any helpful insights or podcasting tips!

Membership Drive Basics

If there is one thing I’m learning at Delmarva Public Radio, it’s that a membership drive is no walk in the park. A pledge drive for radio is not just an event, it’s a week-long affair. Almost a conference. So if you’re planning a conference, maybe these tips will help you too! The purpose, mission statement, and nitty-gritty management details are majorly important, but for now I just want you to try to remember the basics.

1.) Set goals.
Set a goal for how much money you are hoping to pull in. This will keep everyone motivated to earn and gives you the ability to evaluate if your drive was a success or not.

2.) Find volunteers.
Send out emails or mailings to members and past volunteers letting them know the dates and requirements of the pledge drive. Ask them for their help! Contact local community service organizations or schools and tell them that hours answering phones count towards community service requirements.

3.) Schedule, schedule, schedule.
Have a schedule for who is going to pitch on air, at what time, on which day. Your coworkers will appreciate the schedule and it allows you to know that all shifts are covered. Also, have a schedule for volunteers. Make sure they are committed to at least 1-2 hours of work so there is enough time to at least train them on how to handle callers and fill out pledge forms. Have a spreadsheet with a row for each hour of the day and a column for each phone that will be taking calls. Fill in the volunteers names to keep track and once again make sure that all shifts are covered.

4.) Give perks to staff and volunteers. The “what’s in it for me?” mentality will always be present in even your most dedicated volunteers, so show them! Call local restaurants and coffee houses and ask them if they’d be willing to donate breakfast or lunch to the pledge drive. Create another schedule of who is going to be donating on what day and make sure that if they are unable to deliver the food or drinks to you, that you are able to arrange transport to get them.

5.) Have fun!
Create a theme! Decorate the volunteer room like it’s Saturday Night Fever or a Winter Wonderland. A cheery atmosphere and satisfied volunteers will spread the feeling of a positive organization while keeping everyone enthused to pull off the best drive possible.

Good luck!

We Forgot the Flyers!

Inevitably when planning an event, you’re going to forget something. But there’s no need to panic! Sometimes a throw together plan is just what you need, whether it be running to the store for the food or running to the office for the flyers.

I’m here to show you that when the intern forgets the flyers or you’ve forgotten to even design them, a quick last minute flyer on Microsoft Word is better than no flyer at all. Most likely no one will even notice. So if you’re a pro at using the program then great! If not, as long as you know the information you want to distribute and how to open Word then we’re in business.

As Public Relations/Event Planner for Lambda Pi Eta, the Communication Arts Honor Society on Salisbury University’s campus, I’m tasked with the simple job of putting together the LPE bulletin board for the semester. Using the tutorial below and other Microsoft Word templates tricks, I was able to jazz up the board at no cost and you can do the same for your event or organization.

Just follow the basic steps and enjoy!

Podcasting with Nonprofits

Have you tried podcasting? Here’s some great advice for nonprofits on fundraising.

Going Viral: The Wallops Island Frog Photobomb

VIRAL: vi·ralˈvīrəl: adjective
  1. relating to or involving an image, video, piece of information, etc., that is circulated rapidly and widely from one Internet user to another.

The beauty of something going viral is it cannot be anticipated or explained. But it does need to be capitalized on and Wallops Island is about to learn just how.

If you live on the Delmarva peninsula or are at all interested in space, you’ve probably heard of Wallops Island. It’s home to NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility. From what I’ve seen over the past years, the facility has struggled trying to spread national awareness of its frequent rocket launches. With so much going on, I would love to see the public more involved in the facilities’ discoveries. However, press mentions post-launch are few and far between. That is until you introduce an  unexpected star: the photobombing frog.

On Friday, I went into Delmarva Public Radio and heard laughing about the Wallops Island rocket launch of the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE). After trying to understand the story my coworkers were describing, I eventually went straight to my favorite search engine. Come on guys, Google! Did you not pay attention to my last post?

Well, here’s what I found:

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Photo credit to National Geographic.

Do you see him?!

That floating black shadow sailing through the air is the frog that has put Wallops Island on the map. Here’s a lesson in going viral: Google “Wallops Island frog” and you’ll get 76,400 hits. Not to mention articles featuring the frog on the websites of National Geographic, Time, Slate, and Fox.

Though unexpected, this popularity is something Wallops Island has to capitalize on quickly. There are plenty of creative ways to ride this free publicity to the end. How about a Twitter account for the frog that tweets cute and clever quips about the launch and future launches? Or even unofficially labeling the frog a mascot of the Wallops Island launches and incorporating him into public awareness events? Take advantage of going viral while you can because the internet moves so fast it may not remember you tomorrow.

Do you think Wallops Island can keep the buzz going? I hope so!

I’ll Never Google Bing.

If the internet was the world, search engines would be the roads. And the traffic signs. And the maps. And the city hall full of records. And the tour guides. And well, you get the picture. Let’s just say search engines are extremely important when marketing an event, business, or idea online.

Everyone has a preference to their favorite search engine but mine would have to be Google. The aesthetics of the page comfort me because in my mind Google is what a search engine should look like, being that it was the first I ever saw. Though the Bing commercials are hilarious, they don’t do much to market the actual search engine to me.

Visually, Bing is much more colorful and has a lot happening on the home page while Google’s white space makes me think it’s more simple and capable. Bing apparently markets itself as a simpler “decision engine” because it separates results into categories and breaks down results based on what it believes you are looking for. The stubborn part of me doesn’t want this in a search engine. Not having to filter through unrelated content would be nice, but the greedy part of me wants to see everything that’s out there. I want to know that I’m not missing a single possible webpage, lead, or piece of research when I type my key words into the search bar. Would you rather your results be filtered for you or have them all at your fingertips?

To be honest, I have hardly ever used Bing. When Salisbury University computers have a quick search in the corner of Internet Explorer and it’s sponsored by Bing, I type the word Google into it, click the first link, and then type my actual search into Google’s search bar. Not once have I ever been accidentally routed to Google and typed in Bing. I recognize that this has a lot to do with me not wanting to change. But hey, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

A Public Radio Overhaul: Press Release Chaos

First thing’s first. I recognize that I’m going to be spilling my experience with Delmarva Public Radio all over this blog. You may get tired of hearing about it, but I’m not saying “look at me and my fancy radio position.” Every job is cool and exciting in a different way and I’m just ready to share the inside knowledge of what I get to witness and be a part of as the Membership Assistant.

Moving on! Today was a huge day for Delmarva Public Radio!

After the appointment of a new General Manager this summer, Dana E. Whitehair, Delmarva Public Radio is doing a much needed overhaul of the station. Salisbury University has invested a lot of time and money into sustaining public radio and DPR is doing its part to generate and keep listeners by making changes.

Today, I arrived at the office in a purple plaid shirt and jeans believing it to be a normal data-input/money processing type of day. Boy, was I wrong. My director Angela Byrd receives a telephone call while I’m in her office and she looks at me, smiles, tells the person on the phone that I am there as well as what I am wearing, gives a thumbs up and then hangs up. I had just become the student fill-in for a press release photo op.

After the Public Relations director for the college arrived and I borrowed my boss’s shirt for the photo, we rushed to gather information about the new programming that Delmarva Public Radio will begin airing on Monday. This press release is the first time anyone outside of the station will know that DPR is changing its format. DPR listeners are loyal and eternally supportive, but they are also the majority funding behind the station. The press release had to assure the community that the programming changes will catch the attention of a broader spectrum of listeners and ultimately lead to a stronger station. And it did!

In between photo ops and press release emails, we ran to the publications office to submit work orders for a new logo, bumper stickers, and an updated media kit. Publicity and promotion are no joke! And the public relations world moves faster than you realize.

In the end, Delmarva Public Radio officially announced its new programming schedule. And I finally realized that the real world is just as chaotic as the world of homework and college classes.

Sometimes you just have to wing it!

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