Tuesday, November 18, 2008

MSU: A Social Kind of Place

Kids go to college because they want to learn and yes, socialize. Socializing used to mean going out with friends, partying, etc. However, kids can now go to college and be "social" without ever leaving their dorm room. Regardless if this is healthy or not, social networking is extremely popular. So popular that universities across the nation are embracing it, using it, and using it well. Missouri State is no exception.

Missouri State University has developed and is utilizing a variety of social networking mediums. Some of these include twitter, facebook, and youtube. Brad Mitchell, MSU's new web and social media developer, has worked on and tweaked these mediums in both a fun and effective way. First, twitter has been set up to announce the latest news at MSU. This is done through a basic RSS feed from the homepage of MSU. Brad stated that this took very little time to set up, yet it looks very time consuming. Also, facebook is being utilized by MSU. A group has been created that now has thousands of fans (aka students or alumni of MSU). This social networking site creates a sense of community within MSU. Lastly, YouTube is being used by Missouri State University. Brad has uploaded a variety of videos that are then placed in categories. Some of these include: athletics, clubs, and student life. These videos are being watched by many, as the number of views is displayed under each video. The most popular videos so far are those involving sports. Using YouTube helps students see what is going on at MSU, as well as helping establish MSU as an up to date and technologically savvy place.

Social networking is no longer limited to individuals. Businesses, organizations, and yes, even, institutions are utilizing these highly popular mediums. As technology is changing, universities must change right along with them. MSU, through its use of these mediums, has proven it is quite a social place.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Podcast: Power

A podcast, or series of audio or video digital-media files, can be downloaded or distributed via RSS feeds. Podcasts, a very buzz worthy word, have a variety of uses. Some of these include: story-telling, informational guides, radio talk shows, interviews, tutorials, sportscasts, sharing music, and voicing one's personal opinions. Just as blogging, this new social medium gives individuals the chance to deliver or share their personal story or opinion without going through an intermediary or middle man. This elimination gives people and companies power. Power to control their message.

So, what does all this mean for a public relations professional? Well, it means one more medium to carry that very important message they are seeking to share. There are many things to consider when sending a message via podcast. First, create a fun and interesting graphic on your website indicating that you have podcasts available. This will ensure that your loyal online visitors ( who are probably already somewhat techologically savvy because they are online) , will be exposed to this. Next, provide helpful and basic instructions on what a podcast is. Only developed in August of 2004, this medium is still growing in popularity. Next, make certain that your podcast carries a message that makes sense. That means, use your podcast in both a creative and purposeful way. Maybe your podcast can help carry the theme of your organization's weekly blog ( you have one at this point I hope ). Also, promote your podcast! Use both traditional, and social news releases to inject your message into the inboxes of thousands of people. Creating an awareness about your podcast will send more users (note: not audiences, because social mediums are interactive and the audience becomes users as they seek or "pull" for the info.) to your website. Finally, send your podcast to a podcast directory! Why? Everybody is doing it. Podcast directories divide podcasts into categories and point users in your direction when they are looking for your information. Check out this directory: http://www.podcastalley.com/.

It is easy to see that podcasts have many uses and can help promote events. But before you can promote via podcast, you must drive people to your podcast. Podcasts equal more power. Power to control your message, and ultimately your company's destiny. So, what are you waiting for? Feel the power. Promote with a podcast.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

IMC: It makes me Glad!

If I see an ad, podcast, or social network group online, more than likely I will see the same image or a similar ad on tv, in a newspaper, or on a billboard. That is the goal of integrated marketing communications: consistency of brand. In the information age, pr professionals must strive to maintain a "single voice" image; thus, they must work hand in hand with marketing, and advertising. A holistic approach to both online and offline media gives a company the benefits of reiteration. This constant image shapes the users perception and brand image that can allow the company to stand out above the crowd.

The focused image creates a distinct awareness of the company and should also lead the user to some type of action. For example, I commonly associate Glad bags (trash bags) as the ones that make me happy. Why? They don't break when they are loaded down with trash. Glad has effectively put this image in my mind; thus, as I peruse the trash bag aisle and see Glad bags I feel positive they are quality, strong trash bags. Which brings me to my point: Glad has created a "single voice" through various pr and marketing strategies such as their website, online ads, tv ads, magazine ads, and more. Will this consistent image lead me to buy their product? Personally, it depends on my mood, the day, and my bank account. Regardless, Glad has worked to sell their product through an IMC approach in which all efforts are focused on consistency in image.

So where does this put public relations and marketing specialists? Well, it forces them to work together. An "old rule" was that these two departments and Advertising were entirely separate entities; however, this is no longer the case. All specialized areas must come together to create a positive, cohesive image for the company.

Three primary benefits of utilizing an IMC approach are increased brand loyalty, profit, and customer relationship retention. First, using an approach that integrates all departments and all mediums allows customers to have a tangible sense of what the company is all about. This very real perception increases the chances of their loyalty. Next, a complete and consistent message can help customers make a decision about what they buy. If they can identify with your company, then they are more likely to buy your product; thus, increasing your profit. Lastly, brand loyalty and purchasing of products can create business to customer relationships that provide a customer base as well as free buzz marketing. This relationship can be consistently reinforced through the IMC approach.

IMC takes a lot of effort, proper management, and much thought; however, all signs say you'll be Glad you did. :)

For a video tutorial on what IMC is click: