End of semester reflections: public relations campaigns, service learning and The Greater Baton Rouge Hope Academy

 

The semester is coming to an end, graduation is inching closer and now is the time to reflect on what we have learned in MC 4005.  As mentioned in our last post, Expression PR has wrapped up the awareness campaign and fundraising event, Toss for Hope, for the Greater Baton Rouge Hope Academy.  This service-learning class allowed our team to get a glimpse of the real world by having us work with a client firsthand. We each had different high points and major takeaways from doing so, but I think we can all agree that this has been an eye-opening experience. Giving the client exactly what they want is harder than we originally thought. But by working together and pulling our resources we were able to garner great coverage for the school and put on a fun community event that raised close to $1000. We all learned a great deal about the importance of professionalism this semester, an important lesson and life skill to take into the workforce after graduation.

Our professor, Jensen Moore-Copple created seven learning outcomes for this course.  I believe that we have demonstrated each of the desired skills throughout the course and will continue to grow as public relations professionals by using them in the future. The first outcome is being able to demonstrate the ability to apply concepts from previous mass communication and other related courses. We have definitely succeeded in mastering this by using the knowledge we learned from MC 4001, public relations writing, to write press materials and design deliverables for our client. Our fabulous design director, Olivia, created visually interesting logos and designs for the campaign using technologies such as Photoshop and InDesign. We also used PR research skills in our surveys and reports. We were able to demonstrate mastery of the public relations processes (PIE, ROPES, RACE, etc.) in our planning and execution of the campaign and event. It felt good to be able to use all that we have learned in the past four years as Manship students to put together a comprehensive campaign.  We demonstrated civic engagement and social responsibility while working with a nonprofit organization and giving back to the community. By working with Hope Academy we were able establish professional relationships with our client and each other. I feel well prepared for entering the workforce after graduation by mastering these course learning outcomes.

This article discusses traits that talented pubic relations professionals should have. Many of these traits reflect skills that we have learned in this class. We are lucky to have such a strong public relations background upon graduation.

Please see our About page to meet all the group members of Expression PR.  Feel free to contact us with questions or comments. 

Catherine

If you would like to learn more about Expression PR’s Strategy Director, Catherine Hart, check out her digital portfolio or LinkedIn

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Greater Baton Rouge Hope Academy’s Toss for Hope fundraising event

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Expression PR’s hard work was finally put to the test with our agency’s event on April 4th from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. We held the event on Greater Baton Rouge Hope Academy’s school grounds located on 15333 Jefferson Highway, Baton Rouge, La. 70817. Toss for Hope was a traditional corn toss tournament held to raise awareness and money for the school. We targeted families of the Baton Rouge community with young children. By targeting all families in the area, we hoped to make families who do not have children in need also aware of the school.
 
As Madeline Elliot explained, we began promoting Toss for Hope a month in advance through the use social and traditional media channels. Along with promoting our event, a lot of time was devoted to planning the event. As Expression PR’s Event Director, I worked to plan each detail of the event with the help of my group members. We planned where to get the corn toss sets, what food to have, what the entertainment was going to be, how were we going to get prizes, what and where decorations were we going to set up, etc.
 
We were not awarded any money for the event, which made planning extremely difficult. Luckily, we were given access to many of the school’s resources and were able to gather corn toss sets from friends. For our door prize drawings, Expression PR contacted a list of previous sponsors, given to us by our client contact, Pam Chenevert, to receive donations. We received donations from LD Linens, NK Boutique, Woodhouse Day Spa, Coldstone Creamery, Leroy’s, Kona Grill, Adlers Jewelry and Groomingdales. The door prizes were a huge hit among attendees and many people made donations to the school in hopes of winning a prize.
 
Although we created an Eventbrite sign up page, most of our teams signed up at the registration table when they arrived. We anticipated this, and therefore, we waited until the day of the event to create the tournament bracket. The tournament ended up consisting of 16 teams, and teams were eliminated after their first loss. Our winning team “Jennifer Jean,” (Geoffery Rhodes and Lee Shelton) each received a $50 Visa gift card.
 
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Madeline Elliot and Catherine Hart worked to book food trucks for Toss for Hope and landed Frogs Po’boy and Catering and Cupcake Allie. Unfortunately, Cupcake Allie’s truck broke down the day of the event and she was unable to make it, but everyone loved the delicious po’boys Kenneth “Frogman” Leblanc cooked up.
 
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Maxwell’s Market was also kind enough to provide us with a tray of their homemade cookies for attendees to enjoy. We also had a Mike the Tiger cut out for pictures, a banner for attendees to leave their handprint on, music and a face painting station. Having to plan an event without any money is difficult and stressful, but Toss for Hope turned out to be a success. Expression PR raised around $1,000 for Greater Baton Rouge Hope Academy and made more people in the community aware of the unique solutions Hope Academy provides for unique learners.
 
Please see our About page to meet all the group members of Expression PR. Feel free to contact us with questions or comments. Be sure to tune in each week to read how we express ourselves through our public relations campaign.

Sierra

If you would like to learn more about more about Expression PR’s Event Director, Sierra Winston, check out her LinkedIn.

 

Expression PR uses the right media mix to give Greater Baton Rouge Hope Academy a strong media presence

After being paired with Greater Baton Rouge Hope Academy, one of Expression PR’s first tasks was to complete a media audit for our client. At first glance, the school has a decent online media presence. Sylvia Weatherspoon at WBRZ has covered Hope Academy in the past. Hope also has a running website, a Facebook page and a Twitter page. After delving deeper into the audit, I noticed a few key problems. Their website has a decent amount of information about the school, but the organizational layout needs some adjustment. Their Facebook page is titled “Fans of Hope Academy,” which complicates the search. Finally, the school has two live Twitter pages, which can lead to confusion.

Expression PR’s research directors, Catherine Hart, Ramon Hardy and I, used the research gained from the media audit and the media mix chart given to us by Professor Jensen Moore-Copple to create a strategic plan on where, when and how we wanted Hope to have media presence for our campaign and our event, Toss for Hope. Since Greater Baton Rouge Hope Academy is a nonprofit organization, we focused our efforts on free coverage media outlets.

Expression PR requested access to Hope’s social media accounts. However, since an administrator at the school regularly handles the social media, we could not serve the school in that way. When it came time to begin promoting our fundraising event, we created suggested posts for Matthew, Hope Academy’s social media director. Matthew was a pleasure to work with and posted almost all of our suggested posts to Facebook. This helped us to reach the school community and get the word out about the event.

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Fans of Hope Academy posted suggested Facebook posts created by Madeline Elliot

 

For traditional media coverage, our first effort was to post Toss for Hope in all local event calendars. Next, Expression PR created a press release that was sent to all local news outlets. As public relations practitioners we are not guaranteed media coverage, so we had to make sure that we did everything we could to garner media attention to the event. Luckily, our outreach turned into a success. After Alexandra Mouton built a relationship with Lauren McCoy of WVLA NBC33, we landed a spot on the evening news. This was a great accomplishment for us as an agency. Please click on the image below to view the news story:

 

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Overall, Expression PR has made progress in increasing Hope Academy’s media presence. As a final deliverable for the school, Expression PR is creating a social media strategy to leave with Matthew. We hope he can use this tool to continue to improve Hope Academy’s media presence.

Please see our About page to meet all the group members of Expression PR.  Feel free to contact us with questions or comments. Be sure to tune in each week to read how we express ourselves through our public relations campaign.

Madeline

 

If you would like to learn more about Expression PR’s Research and Strategy Director, Madeline Elliot, check out her digital portfolio and LinkedIn.

What is ExpressionPR doing to reach the niche audience of Hope Academy?

When choosing a target community or audience, it is important to do your research. Knowing your client is the first step to determining the best audience for that specific client. The Greater Baton Rouge Hope Academy serves students of all ages, so ExpressionPR decided to pinpoint parents and guardians of students. We also wanted to target the Baton Rouge community, so that we could raise awareness for the academy.

 
We began choosing a target audience by researching our client. Upon discovering the wide range of students at the academy, we felt it was best to target parents and guardians in general. We were confident that we could effectively reach our audience of parents and guardians after our research. Our group then brainstormed ideas for the best ways to reach our audience. We concluded that many parents with current Hope students are on Facebook. Our social media expert, Madeline Elliot, created a Facebook event for Toss for Hope. She even creates new posts for Fans of Hope Academy, the official Facebook page for the academy.

 

Fans of Hope Academy Facebook Profile

Fans of Hope Academy Facebook Profile

 

Each week, we create engaging posts for the academy’s Facebook page. We even link the posts to Toss for Hope, the official event page for our event. This allows us to invite an unlimited number of people to our event. We can link the event to the Fans of Hope Academy page or to any of our personal Facebook accounts. This allows for easy promotion of our event to our niche audience.

 

Toss For Hope Facebook Event Page

Toss For Hope Facebook Event Page

 

Our design director, Olivia, also created a wonderful flier for the students of Hope Academy. I delivered the flier to the school, and made sure that a flier was sent home with each student. This was a great way to reach our niche audience because we could easily send a reminder home with the students.

 

Toss For Hope Event Flier

Toss For Hope Event Flier

 

We used several other deliverables as tactics to reach our niche community. For example, we also wrote a pitch letter, a media advisory and a news release. With these deliverables, we were able to reach more of our desired audience. These deliverables were sent to news outlets in the Baton Rouge community. We utilized these news outlets because our research showed that parents and guardians in our audience were avid viewers of the news.

When zoning in on a specific niche audience, be sure to do thorough research. When choosing tactics for reaching your specific niche audience, be sure to utilize tactics and deliverables that your audience favors.

Please see our About page to meet all the group members of Expression PR.  Feel free to contact us with questions or comments. Be sure to tune in each week to read how we express ourselves through our public relations campaign.

If you would like to learn more about Expression PR’s Account Liaison, Dylon Hoffpauir, check out his LinkedIn account.

 

Dylon

 

Public Relations Research and how it is guiding Expression PR’s Campaign with the Greater Baton Rouge Hope Academy

That dreaded “r” word, research. It is a topic that rarely excites or inspires public relations professionals. Although public relations research sounds pretty boring and dry, it fuels the most creative and successful campaigns. Not only are successful campaigns based upon research, but if done thoroughly it will yield respect and credibility.

 According to Dr. Jensen Moore-Copple, the need for PR research is strong. It provides the means to evaluating a PR plan’s effectiveness. It provides the initial information necessary to plan public relations action. It provides an accounting of the resources consumed by PR. PR research also provides the tangible evidence demonstrating the worth or “added value” of PR. It provides information regarding future client needs.

 Dr. Jensen Moore-Copple also says, to better understand why PR research is necessary, you must have a basic grasp on the PR process. There are four steps in the PR process. The first step is defining the problem/opportunity. This includes monitoring and gathering information about knowledge, opinions, attitudes, behaviors, etc. The second step is planning and programming. This includes strategic decisions about goals, target publics, objectives, actions and communication. The third step is taking action and communicating. This includes implementing the program of action and communication tactics designed to achieve specific objectives for each public to accomplish program goals.  The forth step is evaluating the program. This includes assessing the preparation, implementation and impact of the program.

There are certain objectives that PR professionals measure according to Dr. Jensen Moore-Copple. This includes: input, outputs, outtakes and outcomes. Inputs include what you put into the campaign; an example of this is formative research. Outputs are short-term. This includes what you create based on results from your research. It also includes tangible evidence of the campaign such as number of media releases and amount of news coverage.  Outtakes include key messages you want your audience to receive. An example of outtakes is awareness of your brand and the new idea promoted in the campaign messages. Outcomes are long-term. They are changes in attitudes or behaviors that you want to see happen based on the campaign.

As Expression PR continues with our campaign, we constantly ensure that our campaign aligns with our objectives. It can become easy to get off track when working on a campaign. Sometimes it is easy to focus on the small things rather than what is important and measurable. Expression PR suggests revisiting your research once a week to ensure that you are meeting your objectives. In the beginning stages of planning our event, we threw around several great ideas. Our team kept pausing the stream of ideas to make sure that the event reflected our outtakes. Expression PR suggests doing the same thing as your team brainstorms in meetings. Happy researching.

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If you would like to learn more about Expression PR’s Design Director, Olivia Wajda, check out her digital portfolio and LinkedIn.

 

Expression PR assists the Greater Baton Rouge Hope Academy in promoting organizational effectiveness

During our initial client meeting with the Greater Baton Rouge Hope Academy’s director of development, Pam Chenevert, expressed Hope Academy’s mission and goals. She shared that the nonprofit’s mission is to meet the unique needs of students who typically have social and academic difficulties in conventional school settings by teaching the students how to manage and adapt their own unique systems to enjoy healthy and happy lives. She also included that Hope Academy strives to enhance the social skills and self worth of students. It is important that mission and goals that Mrs. Chenevert discussed are met in order for Hope Academy to be classified as an “effective organization.”  An effective organization is simply an organization who delivers results or meets its goals according to Bridgespan Group.

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Organizational effectiveness is essential to a nonprofit organization’s success. It shapes how potential donors, stakeholders and the community view an organization. Nonprofits who lack organizational effectiveness are less likely to have a positive image to publics. An unfavorable image can cause a nonprofit to receive less funding from donors, which can be detrimental to its sustainability. Conversely, more funding can be obtained by a credible nonprofit that effectively meets its mission and goals. Hence, a nonprofit must understand the significance of organizational effectiveness, but if few people are aware of the existence of nonprofit does its effectiveness really matter? Nonprofits must also understand the importance of public awareness of its organizational effectiveness. This is an area in which public relations practitioners can assist nonprofits.

Expression PR is currently assisting Hope Academy in this area. One of our campaign objectives is to have an effect on awareness, specifically to generate attention from parents ages 18-50 about the existence of the Greater Baton Rouge Hope Academy. Our strategies and tactics serve two purposes. The first purpose is to inform the community about Hope Academy’s existence. The second purpose is to inform the community about Hope Academy’s mission, goals and services that are offered at Hope.

Our list of completed informative tactics includes news releases for media outlets, Facebook and Twitter posts for Hope Academy’s social networking sites, fliers and more. We also have planned an event that aligns with our objective. As our event director, Sierra Winston, discussed in our previous blog post, Expression PR will be hosting a bean bag toss tournament to raise awareness and funds for Hope Academy. “Toss for Hope” will be a traditional bean bag toss tournament with food, music and fun! If you would like to find out more information about our event, visit our Eventbrite.

Expression PR desires that the community be made aware of the amazing services that Hope Academy has to offer. We also believe that our communication strategies will bring more awareness to Hope Academy’s organizational effectiveness.

Please see our About page to meet all the group members of Expression PR.  Feel free to contact us with questions or comments. Be sure to tune in each week to read how we express ourselves through our public relations campaign.

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If you would like to learn more about Expression PR’s Strategy Director, Ramon Hardy, check out his LinkedIn.