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Street Team Intern: Weeks 2-4

As promised, here is an update on the work I’ve been doing with the Indiana State Museum:

In the past few weeks, I have updated the media contact lists for all eleven state historic sites in an effort to ensure that all press releases are sent to relevant media outlets, reporters and news directors. This means I have spent time sweeping the internet for information on radio stations, television stations and newspapers. While it’s mentally draining to sit and stare at a Word document full of names for hours at a time, it’s a necessary evil that I’m happy to do.

Having updated the lists, this past week I accomplished two different tasks which were a bit more fun and creative: writing a media pitch and drafting every museum tweet for the upcoming MuseumWeek. Not only would some of my words be sent to every media contact for the state historic sites (it’s a lot of people, trust me) but also potentially be seen by the museum’s 19,800 Twitter followers (@indianamuseum). To a PR geek like me, that’s a big deal!

See the media pitch content here. Updates on the tweets will come once they are officially posted later in June.

As always, I’m so grateful to have this opportunity to work somewhere that’s letting me hone my skills and also teaching me what a positive work environment can look like and do for its employees. I will do my best to continue to keep my blog updated, but be forewarned that this summer is flying by fast and it’s hard for me to keep track of it!

blog

Street Team Intern: Week One

The nerves are gone!

Having completed my first ‘week’ as an intern for the Indiana State Museum, I thought I would do a little bit of a recap for me to look back on at the end of the summer.

My first two days at the museum included the most welcoming environment I think I’ve ever experienced when starting a new position. My supervisor led me around to meet everyone in the office and though I am not anyone they care about, they all stopped their work for a moment to welcome me and shake my hand (I really need to work on my handshake). From the people to the office itself, I couldn’t help but feel like this is exactly the type of place where I should be starting my career and I am so incredibly fortunate to be doing so.

I spent most of the day doing data entry, updating the state historic site’s media contacts. While my fingers did start to cramp from typing and the afternoon lull of an office shift did hit me pretty hard, I finished out the day excited to see what Tuesday held for me.

butter
Content generated from my midday walk. Follow us @indianamuseum!

The next day, I felt more at home in the space and less jittery, where as on the first day I kept feeling like I could make a mistake and they could fire me at any moment. I spent some time talking to my second supervisor, who oversees the social media accounts for both the museum and all 11 state historic sites (no wonder they needed help!) I toured the museum twice, taking photos once when it was full of children and other visitors, and once when it was empty.

The freedom to roam the empty museum created a unique concoction of feelings in me, as the eeriness of a quiet museum was almost haunting but the privilege of being there made me feel, in a way, powerful. People don’t question you if you’ve got a branded ID badge!

The main takeaways from my first week are that I’m so excited to see what other career-enhancing opportunities this position brings to me, and also that working 9-5 (cue the Dolly Parton track) is going to be a pretty big adjustment for me. I’m going to do my best to keep this blog updated with my museum adventures, so stay tuned!

blog, Past Assignments, pr writing

Three Things to Understand in Order to Connect with Millennials

Who are millennials, and what makes them different than previous generations?

Since this age group first emerged as consumers, companies began devoting enormous amounts of time and money into the search for definitive answers to those questions. Such an investment is not without its value, a Goldman Sachs infographic supports, as the millennial generation, which consists roughly of people born between 1980 and 2000, is the largest in U.S. history. Though varied, the answers found throughout the course of this research have certainly proven beneficial for advertising purposes, but what do the generalized behaviors of the millennial generation mean to organizations who are not attempting to sell a product, but rather to persuade these young people to feel a certain way? Just as advertising agencies must adjust their strategies in order to better reach this target audience, public relations specialists must also understand the best ways to communicate with millennials.

How They Think:

The first thing to understand about millennials is how they view themselves and the world around them. To view the thoughts, values and beliefs of young people on an individual basis, one would most likely look to social media sites such as Twitter. However, as anyone who has researched a certain demographic has experienced, it becomes much more difficult to pinpoint common values of a group of people on a large scale. When patterns do present themselves, it is very important to recognize them.

A common attitude amongst millennials has proven to be an overall skepticism of the American political, judicial and economical systems. Data gathered by Karen Foster from the Greater Good Science Center at Berkeley University provides a discussion on millennials’ views from such a standpoint.  While voices in the media often depict this generation as apathetic, Foster’s data argues that they are actually just “disenchanted” by the United States systems and policies. They have witnessed, via the tribulation of their parents and grandparents, that throwing yourself into a job doesn’t always mean you can rely on keeping it and that just because you place your vote doesn’t mean the elected official is going to make the changes you desire.

That is not to say millennials do not have beliefs that directly correlate to certain political or social issues, in fact, as we saw with the Bernie Sanders ‘revolution’ this past year, there is a wild desire for change when prompted by the right voice (which somehow ended up being an elderly man from Brooklyn). In comparison to their predecessors, says Foster, millennials “self-identify” as being more tolerant of “different opinions, sexualities, ethnicities and cultures,” a notion that could eventually lead to wave of change amongst the societal norms that have been in place for decades, if millennials so choose to voice these views.

How They Take in Information:

Naturally, if you want to get a message across to any group of people, you’re going to need a basic understanding of how they learn and absorb information. The first step in doing so is choosing the right medium for communication. “Managing for Dummies” author Peter Economy advises that for millennials it is best to address them where they “already spend the most time–on their mobile devices.”

As far as the format and content of your messaging, Economy and Jayson DeMers of Forbes magazine agree that whatever you are trying to convey you should do so quickly. As DeMers writes, millennials are accustomed to having devices with answers to almost any question at their fingertips. As a professor once said to me, “[the millennial generation] has no excuse for not knowing something.”  This means that you must hit them “with fast, thorough information” in order to get their attention, DeMers concludes. The pace of your message isn’t just about the way you present content either – millennials are more likely to use a site or application that loads “quickly and easily” on their devices.

How They Work:

Amongst other unique qualities, millennials have a different approach when it comes to the work force. With the entrance of this generation into all fields, innovation in the way businesses are managed is a must. Dixie Gillaspie, a contributor for Entrepreneur magazine, writes that millennials are responsible for changing the way businesses operate, in part because they value “life over work-life balance.” Millennials tend to be passionate about enriching their lives rather than heightening their position on a corporate ladder.

This dedication to a fulfilled life, writes Dian Schaffhauser for Campus Technology, means that young people have placed a “premium on their time,” and prefer not to hold face-to-face meetings unless they are absolutely necessary. I mean, who doesn’t love the idea of staying at home in your pajamas for work? They like to work in the “most efficient way possible,” rather than committing themselves to sit at a desk for set number of hours each week, a notion that is a step away form Generation X’s stress on the work-life balance and goes so far as to directly oppose the strictly ‘loyal’ work ethic of Baby Boomers. As Gillaspie puts it, it is a generation that “believes in efficiency… for maximum impact.” Forbes magazine’s Kate Taylor cites data in her article “Why Millennials Are Ending The 9 To 5” that says nearly half of young people prefer flexibility at their job over a larger paycheck. Again, they would rather have less time in the office and more time spent experiencing the world outside of it.

Millennials are not afraid to leave a position that does not value such preferences either – the desire for flexibility has lead to an increase in freelancing and self-employment, with “60% of millennials leaving their job in under three years,” in search for opportunities that better suit their needs as employees.

What This Means to the Communications Field:

In summary, millennials:

  • Are skeptical of the United States economic and political systems
  • Identify as tolerant of differing opinions, cultures, ethnicities and sexualities
  • Communicate via mobile devices
  • Favor fast-paced messaging
  • Value a life of experiences over careers

But what do all these things mean to public relations professionals?

Taken together, we can deduce that millennials are selective – their computer-based skills allow them to use the internet as a tool for shopping around. This means if you’re selling a product, it better be the best out there – at least according to reviews written by millennial peers – and the same goes for representing an organization. You better prove that your client is the best at what they do, that they do it with integrity and that they believe in social responsibility.

Additionally, you’ve got a very short amount of time to get that message across. Millennials are -unsurprisingly – busy. With society’s push towards requiring a college education for entry level jobs, they have been tasked with balancing university workloads with paying positions, while also pursuing the type of fulfilled life that they can be proud of. They have also been raised in an era where the incessantly staccato messages of social media and the internet rule, which means they’re accustomed to getting their information quickly.

Designing a communications plan around these stipulations may seem daunting, but once you’re armed with a basic understanding of the way millennials think, learn and work, effective communications strategies are not far behind.

pr writing

IUPUI Weeks of Welcome

As we near the month of August, I thought I would take a moment to upload some of the content I have worked on as the Marketing and Communications Lead for IUPUI’s Weeks of Welcome Student Steering Committee.

Weeks of Welcome is a program sponsored by IUPUI’s office of Educational Partnerships and Student Advocacy (EPSA) which takes place the first two weeks of every fall semester. Those two weeks are packed with amazing events all over campus that help incoming freshmen get to know their new home as well as welcome back other Jaguars. There are resource fairs, field day activities, tons of giveaway items, scavenger hunts, and mystery events that are revealed the week of!

For the past several months I have had the privilege of helping plan Weeks of Welcome 2016 (WOW) by operating the official Facebook page, as well as working firsthand with graphic designers to create marketing tools such as handbills, flyers, electronic ads, and even Snapchat filters. WOW 2016 is just a little over a month away at this point, but I thought I would share some of the content we have created thus far that won’t reveal too many surprises.

Past Assignments, pr writing

The Mind Trust Social Media Process

I worked with The Mind Trust, an Indianapolis organization dedicated to improving education in the community, to draft a document that would highlight the benefits of utilizing social media as a Public Relations tool.

Click the link below:

MindTrust Social Media Process – Marissa Smith

Supplemental Documents:

Document A

Document B

For more information on the organization:

The Mind Trust Website

Past Assignments

Internet Vs. In Print

11/15/15

There is no question that the news industry has advanced tremendously over the past two-hundred years since newspapers became popular in the United States. What began as periodically-occurring newssheets in the 1700s has transformed into a persistent twenty-four hour news cycle that Benjamin Franklin would barely recognize. Technological changes have greatly altered the practices of our society, and the news process did not escape such drastic alterations, particularly with the addition of the internet to the list of informational sources. The World Wide Web left traditional media scrambling to catch up and, in order to compete with the internet, forced it to diversify narrower than ever before, while questioning how this new online format was supposed to bring in a profit.

The invention and development of the internet has spawned a niche market for almost everything one could think of, with an infinite number of websites and the ability to make a site for any chosen topic, no matter bizarre it may seem. Where previously new technology spurred small bouts of diversification throughout history, the internet nearly obliterates the need for mass communication due to its endless nooks and crannies. There is now an online resource for any type of news, and traditional news sources like newspapers have struggled to keep up with the online world. In the past, where it was common for towns to have one or two weekly papers, cities like Indianapolis now have a total of nine in circulation at any given time, most with a very specific audience in mind (USNPL, 2015). A great example of this diversification is the Indianapolis publication Nuvo Newsweekly, the self-described “alternative voice” of the city, with its writers offering up relentlessly honest articles on everything from liberal hatred of Republican political strategies to challenging whether or not Instagram photos should be considered art (Dolan, 2015). Nuvo is anything but an average newspaper, blatantly targeting the liberal Democratic sector of Indianapolis, and it does a fantastic job of competing with the stylishly biased sources of the internet, right down to the creative opinions its writers craft, closely mimicking that of a blog. Of course, even once traditional media found a way to match the infiniteness of the web, broadcasters and print publishers alike were still hemorrhaging profit in a way that closely matched the blood loss of a Tarantino movie.

The early 2000s caused such an urgency to get everything online that news stations conjured up websites faster than anyone could say the word ‘profit’, and as a result, the industry took a huge hit to the wallet they’re still attempting to make up for ten years later. In the short amount of time it took newspapers like the Indy Star to have a website up and running, the thought of a pay wall was all but forgotten, such was the fate of papers across the United States. Once the error had been realized, newspapers were once again frantic, this time rushing to build pay walls and keep people from accessing news for free. As we now know, the internet became so popular because it was difficult to charge people for accessing sites, (AOL’s ‘walled garden’ concept), and despite the addition of online subscriptions that limit the access of readers, it is always possible to find the news story one wants to read from a different, free source. Not only did the news industry lose money due to the ease of access for online information, it has been persistently pick-pocketed by the sudden scarcity of advertising available. Just as with news, advertising too went digital, taking with it the need for classified ads. The diversification of news also led to the divergence of commercials, with companies targeting only those news outlets that pertain to their primary market, and with the internet’s ability to track people’s favorite sites and searches, it functions as the ultimate form of micro-targeting. As a result, newspapers across the nation to teamed up with websites like www.monster.com, which boasts the nation’s largest newspaper partner recruitment network, to attempt to regain some lost profit from a lack of classifieds (Monster, 2015). This solution, while not the most productive for newspapers, is the best of the situation and makes up an adequate amount of profit in comparison to the lack of revenue companies would see without such compromises.

All in all, the industry has adapted, though somewhat haphazardly, to the immense technological changes that have swept over the United States in the past two-hundred years since newspapers became a consistent addition to everyday life. The news process, while it was unable to escape drastic alteration, will continue to live prosperously as long as its mediators remain educated on advances in society. The World Wide Web might have initially left traditional media scrambling to catch up, but after a decade of revolutionized relaying of information, it has become clear that though the industry will need to remain open to adaptation, it will always be a central part of modern society.

 

 

 

Works Cited

Dolan, S. (2015, September 23). Kicking and Screaming Til They Get Their Way. Nuvo Newsweekly, pp. 3-4.

Monster. (2015, May). Alliances and Partnerships. Retrieved from Monster.com: http://partner.monster.com/newspapers

USNPL. (2015). Indiana Newspapers. Retrieved from USNPL: http://www.usnpl.com/innews.php