Professional proficiency, service-learning and learning objectives with the LNQTA

To be a graduate of Louisiana State University’s Manship School of Mass Communication, one of the course requirements is a visual communications (MC 2015) class. I spent most of this course learning Adobe InDesign, about three classes learning Adobe Photoshop and one class learning Adobe Dreamweaver. While taking this class, I thought I would never use this software again. However, I was definitely mistaken.

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Dr. Jensen Moore-Copple’s public relations writing (MC 4001) class has taught me what it means to be a PR professional. Through my service-learning project with the Louisiana Northshore Quilt Trail Association, I have learned what it means to be professionally proficient. This means to be skilled or competent at whatever a job may require.

My work with the LNQTA means that being professionally proficient has required me to familiarize myself and become proficient in Adobe InDesign. Although I am not using Dreamweaver, I am using weebly.com, a website that allows me to create my own free website.

Not only have I become professionally proficient by using certain software, but I have also become proficient in using AP style writing to create news releases, feature releases, fliers, memos, talking points, brochures and media kits.

Working with the LNQTA has allowed my group and me, Prism Communications, to use our skills in a professional manner. We have created a flier, a news release, a feature release, an event plan, a social media plan, a YouTube video, a handout and a plan book for the LNQTA. The majority of these items will be available to the public. So, being professionally proficient is extremely important.

Along with my service-learning work this semester, I took a TV News Producing (MC4280) class as a mass communication elective. Through this class, I became professionally proficient with Edius, an editing software for video production quality material.

My service-learning mini-campaign with the LNQTA and my media production class, have taught me to be professionally proficient. I have been able to complete all of the course learning objectives for my PR writing class. These objectives are:

  1. Understand client, audience and media information and format needs.
  2. Demonstrate skills in locating, evaluating, and synthesizing research materials.
  3. Understand the importance of truth, accuracy and fairness in the information gathering and distribution processes.
  4. Demonstrate skills in writing copy on long and short deadlines and within space, time and platform requirements.
  5. Produce and critically analyze story ideas and materials intended for diverse audiences and media platforms.
  6. Create and deliver professional speeches and presentations that clearly and concisely convey messages to internal and external audiences.
  7. Demonstrate knowledge of Associated Press style requirements.
  8. Establish and maintain positive client relationships and work as a part of a public relations team.
  9. Create professional communications using technologies such as InDesign, Photoshop, Dreamweaver, etc.
  10. Develop and refine a professional digital portfolio.

As stressful and time consuming as this class could be, I am very grateful for the opportunity to learn professional proficiency and how to maintain a successful working relationship from Dr. Moore and the LNQTA board members.

If you want to know more about the LNQTA, you can visit their website or Facebook page. If you want to know more about Dr. Moore, you can visit her blog.

Is it easy to be professional and ethical in PR? Find out through my experience with the Louisiana Northshore Quilt Trail Association

PROFESSIONALISM:

To most people, professionalism consists exclusively of a person’s appearance and job title. Most people view professionalism as dressing modestly and having a white collar, “desk,” job.

However, my opinion is a little different. Yes, dressing modestly and appropriately is important, but so is having the right attitude. If someone walks into an interview looking nice, but they slouch their shoulders, mumble and do not look the interviewer in the eye, then, that is unprofessional. Body language is a huge indicator of a person’s professional qualities.

It does not matter what job I am interviewing for or whom I meet, I always strive to give a great first impression. I know that just by looking at a person for five seconds, I form an opinion of him or her. If I see someone looking confident with their back straight, chin held high and they are making eye contact, I automatically respect them and treat them as a professional. So, I know other people do the same with me.

I have learned that having a confident attitude is the key. It is not always easy, but like my mom always tells me, “fake it ‘til you make it.” That sounds cheesy and cliché, I know, but it works. Sometimes I am insecure and shy when I am in a situation that is out of my comfort zone. As I have gotten older, I have taken my mom’s advice and it has helped in my personal presentation.

If I want to be respected and seen as a professional, I have to show others that I respect myself, and that I am confident in my abilities.

Paulo Coelho

“You must be the person you have never had the courage to be. Gradually, you will discover that you are that person, but until you can see this clearly, you must pretend and invent.”
― Paulo Coelho

My group’s mini-campaign with the Louisiana Northshore Quilt Trail Association and my job as the account liaison has left me in a few situations that were out of my comfort zone. I have had to take the lead in some conversations that I was not prepared for. This made me uncomfortable, but in the end, I learned that I can do a lot more than I thought I could. As long as I respect myself and the others that I am working with, everything will work out.

ETHICS:

Along with learning to be a public relations professional, I have been learning how to handle different ethical situations that occur in a PR campaign. One of the challenges that we have faced is trying to accomplish what our class requires, along with doing what the LNQTA board asks.

At some points, it has been difficult to explain our reasons for doing some things the way that we do. It would be easier to just ignore some things that they ask because we understand why they will not work, but that is not the ethical thing to do.

Charlotte Brontë

“Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation: they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigour … If at my convenience I might break them, what would be their worth?”
― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

Also, we have discussed the issue that the SCVNGR trek does not have to be completed exactly at each location. We realize that it is possible to do some challenges from a different location. However, we have discussed this issue and realized that we have to trust the people doing the trek to use the honor code.

As much as we are being ethical, we have to trust other people to do the same.

If you want to know more about the LNQTA, visit their Facebook page or their website.

Service-learning with the Louisiana Northshore Quilt Trail Association

Service-learning is defined by the Community Service Act of 1990 as:

“A method under which students or participants learn and develop through active participation in thoughtfully organized service that is conducted in and meets the needs of a community; is coordinated with an elementary school, secondary school, institution for higher education, or community service program, and with the community; and helps foster civic responsibility; and that is integrated into and enhances the academic curriculum of the students, or the educational components of the community service program in which the participants are enrolled; and provides structured time for the students or participants to reflect on the service experience.”

Yes, I know it sounds great and like a wonderful opportunity. It is, for the most part. However, this is a concept that I have mixed feelings about.

The Good Stuff:

I am getting to learn about public relations by doing and being hands-on rather than just learning from a textbook. I am getting real life experience in creating a PR campaign for the Louisiana Northshore Quilt Trail Association. I am also learning a lot about their organization and their community. I am so lucky to be able to learn from the women on the board and experience the hard work, dedication and determination that they put toward their goals.

I am also getting a chance to be involved in community service and learn how important it is to help our communities. I have the opportunity to be socially responsible.

The service-learning experience that I am a part of, through Dr. Jensen Copple-Moore’s Mass Communication PR Writing class, is allowing me the experience to work with a real client. I am learning how to communicate with the LNQTA and how to prepare and execute a successful campaign. The SCVNGR grant is also helping us to be able to bring the LNQTA a useful tool that they would not be using otherwise.

My work with the LNQTA will add to my résumé and make me more marketable for a job in public relations. I am grateful for the opportunity to work with the LNQTA and the ability to utilize what I have learned to further my career.

The Hard Stuff:

With all of the great aspects of service-learning comes the day-to-day stress of making it work. For me, this mini-campaign has become a second internship. Not only do I have to do all of the in-class work for Dr. Moore’s class, but I have to find the time to work on this mini-campaign for the LNQTA outside of class.

The hardest part about service-learning is trying to fit it into my schedule. Not only am I taking 12 hours, but this semester, I am also doing an internship with C & G Containers, Inc. in Lafayette, La. I travel to Lafayette every Tuesday, after I get out of class at noon, and work there from 1:15 p.m to 5:45 p.m. I normally spend the night and drive back to Baton Rouge, La. before class on Wednesday morning.

I am also involved with my sorority, Chi Omega. I have responsibilities including community service, philanthropy events, meetings and other mandatory requirements to fulfill. I enjoy most of these, but they are also very time-consuming.

Along with the LNQTA work in Ponchatoula, La., my internship in Lafayette, La., my sorority obligations and my classes, I am studying for the LSAT for law school and the GMAT for graduate school. Preparing for these tests is stressful and it takes up a lot of my time.

My Final Opinion:

Service-learning in the here-and-now is very stressful for me. Especially since I did not realize all of the time and energy it would take before I got to class. Trying to make sure I get everything done and I am doing a good job for the LNQTA is difficult. I also think the fact that I am a perfectionist and very conscientious adds to this stress. I want to give my all to the LNQTA, but most of the time I feel like I cannot do that because my time is spread so thin.

Service-learning in the long run is great. I am very grateful for this opportunity to learn as well as serve my community. I am positive that later in life I will really see the benefits of my work with the LNQTA and appreciate the chance to meet the women and learn from them.

Being able to look back on this experience five years from now will definitely put things in perspective for me. At the moment, it is hard to see past the day-to-day stress that this has added to my life. However, I am staying optimistic, and I know that my group and I can get through this and help the LNQTA. We will be successful!

To learn more about the LNQTA, visit their website or Facebook page.

The Louisiana Northshore Quilt Trail Association uses social media and technology for PR and PRomoting tourism

“Just living is not enough,” said the butterfly, “one must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower.”

~Hans Christian Anderson

Like in the quote above, an organization, by itself, will not be successful without the help of social media and technology. If you have the greatest nonprofit organization ever, but no one knows about it, how good is it really?

At our first meeting, with the Louisiana Northshore Quilt Trail Association, we discussed the types of technology and social media that they were currently using or wanted to incorporate in their public relations strategy. When we started talking, we were not sure what we were going to find. I hate to say it, but I know I was skeptical of the women’s, ages 60 and older, knowledge of social media.

However, we were pleasantly surprised. Kim Zabbia, the LNQTA chairwoman, told us about their Facebook page and their website. She also mentioned that they recently put plaques with QR codes next to several quilt blocks on the trail. When you scan the QR code, it brings you straight to the LNQTA website and gives you more information on each quilt block.

At the meeting, Zabbia told our in-class public relations firm, Prism Communications, about the LNQTA’s plans to increase tourism and gain attention from people outside Louisiana. This process will take several steps and require the help of social media and technology. Luckily, the LNQTA is making our job easier because they have already started using Facebook and a website to spread the word about the quilt trail.

Our goal is to make the LNQTA easily accessible and to get the attention of locals of the five parishes included in the quilt trail. Without the help and support of the parish residents, this project will never be successful.

First, we looked at the LNQTA website, and what we found was very impressive. It includes maps of all of the quilt trails with markers for each quilt block. When you click each marker, information comes up with the quilt block story, the location and the designers and painters’ names. The website is also kept up to date with pictures of each quilt block and any upcoming information about LNQTA events.

Then, we looked at the LNQTA’s Facebook page, and we decided that it needed a little work. When we mentioned that the LNQTA should post more frequently, Zabbia told us that they had just hired someone to be in charge of the website and the LNQTA Facebook page. This solved our problem. We also asked if they would be interested in a blog and Zabbia and the other board members said no. They did not want something else that they would have to keep up with, without our help.

Next, our plan is to increase the amount of “likes” on Facebook and increase the amount of people that use the QR codes to find out more about the LNQTA and the quilt trail. We also want to create an online store to go along with the LNQTA’s Quilt Trail Shoppe. This should help spread the LNQTA news and information quicker and more effectively.

Last, we will hold a SCVNGR event to introduce the SCVNGR quilt trail trek. This will help spread the news about the LNQTA to the locals, and they will eventually start to spread the word to out-of-town family members or friends.

Using social media and technology will help the LNQTA and Prism Communications reach their goals. A successful public relations campaign is based off of the relationships that an organization builds and maintains with its consumers. In this case Facebook, a website, and the QR codes will help the LNQTA to keep patrons informed about what is going on in the organization.

If you want to know more about the LNQTA or quilt trails, you can find their website at http://www.louisianaquilttrail.com/ or on their Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Louisiana-Northshore-Quilt-Trail-Association/119736191463150.

Using SCVNGR as a service-learning tool to work with the Louisiana Northshore Quilt Trail Association

Since I started college, my parents told me that my only job was to go to school. For the past three years, I thought that school only meant going to class, studying for tests, doing homework or working on an occasional group project. However, this semester I am learning what it is like to work for a cause and gain “real world” experience.

I am a senior public relations student in the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University.  This semester, in Dr. Jensen Moore’s PR writing class, I am working with a group to use SCVNGR, a smart-phone application, to promote and create an interactive mini-campaign for a nonprofit organization. Our class of 20 students is the only group in the United States to receive the SCVNGR grant and be able to work with them on a project that helps us foster an understanding of social issues and civic responsibility in our community.

SCVNGR is an app for iPhones or Androids. It functions kind of like a scavenger hunt. When you get to a location, you check in and it will ask you a question or to post a picture or leave a comment. It has helped businesses and universities make their events more exciting, interactive and memorable. I mean who doesn’t like a good scavenger hunt?

The first thing that Dr. Moore asked us to do was apply for the position that we wanted and the organization that we wanted to work for. Our choices of jobs were account liaison, strategy director, writing director or design director. The four organizations that our class is working with are: Susan G. Komen of Baton Rouge, Louisiana Northshore Quilt Trail Association (Ponchatoula, La.), North Rampart Main Street (New Orleans), and SmokingWords/Tobacco-Free Campus.

I was assigned the account liaison position for the Louisiana Northshore Quilt Trail Association (LNQT). My job is to communicate with the organization’s chairwoman, Kim Zabbia, and to organize and facilitate our meetings. I will be the primary contact with our client and handle logistics, setting up meetings, contacting group members and keeping meeting notes.

The second thing that Dr. Moore asked us to do was create a logo and name for our in-class public relations firm. We named our firm Prism Communications and came up with this logo:

Prism Communications consists of five girls:

  • Kristyn Harris (me): Account Liaison
  • Lauren Lae: Strategy Director
  • Caroline Downer: Strategy Director
  • Tran Tran: Design Director
  • Amelia Walsh: Writing Director

We came up with the name Prism Communications because we like how the many sides of a prism represent the many sides of our agency. The prism also reflects light in all different directions as we hope to reflect our talents and abilities upon any project that we do for a client.

The color purple stands for royalty and we wanted our company to stand out as one of the best in our field. It is also a professional color that can relate to both men and women. As a company based in Baton Rouge, purple can also be used to identify with LSU because the school’s colors are purple and gold.

The next step in our mini-campaign is to meet with our client. I have contacted Mrs. Zabbia and set up a meeting on Sunday, Sept. 30 at 10:15 a.m. in Ponchatoula, La.

I am really excited to meet and work with the LNQT organization and learn about their goals for the SCVNGR project. I think this is a really unique opportunity that I would not get anywhere else. I have been very fortunate to be able to only focus on school over the past three years, but I am also very grateful for the experience that this class and this mini-campaign is going to give me.

If you have any questions or want to know more about the Louisiana Northshore Quilt Trail Association, please feel free to go to our website at http://www.louisianaquilttrail.com/ or check out our Facebook page.

Hope you have a great day!

~Kristyn