Twitter: A Branding Tool

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Over the course of the semester, we were instructed to tweet three times a week. When first given the assignment, I thought: “Okay, so if I tweet every Monday, Wednesday and Friday I’ll be good.” That schedule of tweets quickly became obsolete. I suddenly found myself enjoying the process of branding myself.

Branding yourself is an interesting process. Was I to be funny? Professional? Witty? It was very fitting that this assignment was parallel in time to Daya’s “Sit Still Look Pretty” – which I deemed my personal theme song since the first time I listened to the lyrics. My brand was to be what I aspire to be: a strong, smart, no-BS woman who does awesome things – like take the professional world by storm things.

I found this twitter assignment to be professionally empowering. Not only did I know more about what was going on in the world, but I began to have interactions with other public relations professionals throughout the world. It is professionally empowering to have a tweet – an idea in 140 characters or less – be “retweeted” or “favorited” by already successful communication professionals. It was empowering to feel relevant in my field.

This assignment also provoked me to think: is the tweet copy that just came into my head relevant? What makes it relevant? Usually when I asked myself those questions I was able to bring my idea the next level – to connect it to another idea or to a broader concept.

I find it humorous to look back and note that I thought this assignment would be a chore. I thought I would have to remind myself to tweet. I quickly found that the reminders I set on my phone to participate in this twitter assignment were obsolete. I enjoyed gathering my thoughts. I enjoyed cultivating my ideas. I enjoyed branding myself.

Social Media Policies Promote Decency

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It is indisputable that, in this day and age, a company needs a method to communicate effectively with its employees. Some email a company newsletter, some publish news on an intranet, and some have adopted Facebook as a manner of communication. The use of social media in the workplace is a controversial topic because it brings up ethical and legal implications, but also allows a company to connect with employees and customers globally.

The policies put forth by various companies outline the implications through a series of guidelines, tips and regulations. Employees must be honest online. Employees must remember that they represent the company, even when outside the office. Many tell employees that they are not to discuss internal matters on social media. Most policies also give the friendly reminder that everything they publish is out there for the world to see.

Institutions regularly take the rules they develop surrounding people associated with the brand and social media very seriously. For example, Amanda Tatro was asked to leave the University of Minnesota’s nursing school after she posted on social media about the cadavers she learned from in her nursing classes. The university said the posts violated policies by exploiting the cadavers and the family members of the decreased.

Another example that is pointed to again and again the public relations world is the Justine Sacco twitter scandal. Before boarding a plane, Sacco tweeted: “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!” Those 12 words cost Sacco her job by the time her plane landed. This is a staple example in the use of social media as a professional because it shows how detrimental a tweet – which must be under 140 characters by definition – can be.

Social media regulations are a necessity, considering that people naturally tend to generalize things; people generalize employees and employers. If employers did not put forth any type of guidelines, then they would not have a justification for reprimanding social media posts that sullied their reputation. Regulations regarding conduct on social media should not restrict voice, but promote decency on a public platform that benefit both the employees, the brand and society as a whole. It is not the worst thing in the world that companies call for their employees not to publish disrespectful or ignorant things on the internet.

Trump Uses Intensify and Downplay Model of Persuasion

Presidential campaigns are bound to have dirt flying from both sides, especially as the election draws nearer. Even after the first presidential debate for the 2016 election, many commentators agreed that the debate was messy to say the least. While the rules of the debate were not necessarily followed, perhaps the messiest part of the presidential debate was in the social media posts that followed from the candidates and public afterwards. Donald Trump, the GOP nominee, tweeted after the debate regarding Hillary Clinton, the democratic nominee, and her revelation of one of Trump’s more sexist and patronizing past statements.

At the debate, Clinton mentioned that Trump called Miss Universe 1996, Alicia Machado, “Miss Piggy,” referring to her body image, and “Miss Housekeeping,” allegedly referring to her Latina background.

Trump responded with a tweet that insulted not only Machado, but Clinton as well.

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Trump should not have referred to Clinton as “Crooked Hillary.” The childish name-calling hurts Trump’s credibility. Instead of using logic to try to defend himself, he turned to attacking the one who revealed him for his offensive comment.

Trump also calls Machado “disgusting,” apparently because of a “sex tape and past.” He, again, tries to defend himself by putting the object of his comment in a negative light.

This tweet is a perfect example of Hugh Rank’s Intensify and Downplay Model of Persuasion. Trump tries to intensify others “bad” instead of addressing the issue at hand: Did Trump say or not say the comments? Does he stand behind his comments? Does he think women should be called “miss piggy”? Does he think that women of a Latina background should be called “miss housekeeping”?

Trump should have used his 140 characters to attempt to defend his comment or express regret. Attacking a woman for her sex life and using childish insults only made some Twitter users respond with even more negative comments:

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If Trump wants to be perceived as a leader, he needs to practice his crisis communication strategies. In his most-recent crisis communication with the 2005 video release by the Washington Post, he did express his own regret, but he also still chose to attack his opponent for her husband’s shortcomings. This issue is so messy; it deserves another blog post for itself!

Trump’s best bet at avoiding future mistakes is to try to focus on the political issues at hand and stop trying to attack or threaten to sue anyone who brings a shortcoming of his into the lime light.

Brand Seen as Mutual Friend: The Power of Podcasts

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A few weeks ago my roommate was packing her things in a duffle bag as she was about to road trip home from Milwaukee to Mankato, Minnesota. She could not contain her excitement: “I will have six hours to catch up on all my podcasts!”

This is the new medium – the new way to pass the time. When is the last time you heard someone say, “I just love the radio right now?” I know that at least for me, I get bored of radio listening by the time I hear the same song for the third time in a day – and we all know that that is not a rare occurrence.

Podcasts allow the listener to seek out shows that discuss topics within their interest. The newest trend in public relations is to get your brand on a podcast. What better way for an athletic shoe company to build a better relationship with athletes than through a podcast that discusses athletics?

Communicating with consumers as listeners of a podcast that they already trust is a very effective way to increase brand authenticity. According to Aristotle’s method of persuasion, ethos, or trust, is the first factor that must be established. If a podcaster is already established in a certain field, and he or she takes the time to get to know your brand, and then also go on to rave about your brand, their listeners will be more likely to trust them than if the brand had communicated to that unknown consumer directly. The listener already knows that the podcast host shares some aspect of a common field of experience and most likely assumes that the host also has his or her listeners’ best interests in mind.

Public relations is about building relationships; it’s about a trusted friendship between a brand and consumer. Communicating through a podcast, a friendly and known environment to the listener or consumer already, is a great way to start that relationship. It is like becoming friends with someone because you already have a mutual friend.

Podcasts are arguably the most popular pastime after binge-watching a series on Netflix and the old-time pastime of reading a good book. Just as public relations professionals took the world of social media by storm, they need to jump on the podcast bandwagon.

Maybe, just maybe, my roommate will discover a new brand as mutual friend on her next road trip home.

So I Can Be Paid to Speak and Write Well?

screen-shot-2016-09-18-at-10-22-33-pmI always knew I loved speaking and writing. Basically, I love relating to people publicly. I first became interested in the public relations field when I realized that I could get paid to speak and write well. My public relations path began at Marquette’s 2014 PR and Social Media Summit. I decided to attend on a whim and skipped all my classes for that day. I then changed my major from digital media to public relations by the end of the week. I was attracted to the speaking, the writing and the strategizing. I finally found a career that could provide the natural high that I always get from giving a stellar speech or writing an outstanding paper.

I took pride in my strategic communication skills far before I ever knew that it was a university subject. That pride is born out the work I am able to produce because of my most innate skills. According to the Gallup Strengths Finder, a test that reveals our most natural skills, my top five are: strategic, communication, activator, idealist and adaptable. I can see how those skills not only compliment my academic life, but dictate every decision or task I have ever taken part in, whether personal or professional.

So far I have been heavily exposed to the technical side of PR. I have managed different social media platforms for various brands, written numerous press releases and have represented different brands at varied events. While these tasks get my adrenaline going and undoubtedly release endorphins for me, I still yearn for more; I yearn to be a strategist.

On the first day of my current internship, my supervisor gave me a tour of the building. Because I work at the corporate world headquarters for the company, the tour included the executive suite on the twelfth floor of the building. My eyes lit up; this is where the strategy is born. This is where the brand comes to life. This is where I want to be.

Currently I am young, in school and slightly inexperienced. But, as my Myers-Briggs personality profile says, I am a visionary. I am a dreamer and I always set my goals high. If I can channel my Gallup-told strength of being an activator, maybe, just maybe, I can make my ultimate dream job a part of my reality.