Posts Tagged ‘PRSA’

The Real Function of Hashtags

October 31, 2016


How many of us trendy marketers have used hashtags to promote our brand or used hashtags just to use funny or popular phrases such as #sorrynotsorry, #nofilter, or #yolo?

In reality, how many of these hashtags did you actually follow or look up after using them? If you’re like me, then probably never. If you’re like me, you probably used the hashtag to be trendy and funny, like Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the real purpose for hashtags. Hashtags are meant to categorize messages so people interested in that topic can follow it. After attending my first major communications conference this weekend, I now realize the real function of hashtags and how powerful they can be.

I had a very lucky opportunity to go to the 2016 Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) International Conference held in Indianapolis. Like any other event I’ve been to, there were signs posted everywhere and reminders in the program to use the hashtag #PRSAICON. Normally my gut reaction of seeing these hashtags at events are, “Ya, okay, maybe.” To me, I always thought that this was just a branding technique for the company to raise awareness about them. I never thought of it as a genuine call to action that could benefit me.

However, after hearing from some of the most brilliant speakers and communications professionals, I decided to join the Twitter trend at the conference. I wanted my friends and family to know that I was sitting in the audience listing to stories from Derrick Kayongo, Founder and CEO of the Center for Civil and Human rights, Captain Scott Kelly, Astronaut and United States Navy Test Pilot, Theresa Payton, former White House Chief Information Officer, and many more. Why not join the fun and use the hashtag?

Not only was I able to gain new followers and increase the number of likes and retweets for my own posts, but I was able to connect with people at the conference that I never got the chance to meet in person. With hundreds of attendees from all over the world, six keynote speakers, 81 breakout sessions and variety of other networking and professional development workshops over a short span of two and a half days, it was impossible to hear and see everything I wanted. Thanks to the event hashtag, #PRSAICON, I was able to follow along with the other tweets that shared photos, PowerPoint presentation slides, memorable quotes and entertaining GIFS. This hashtag made me feel like I got a piece of all of the sessions and I was able to participate in live conversations.

For this reason, I encourage marketers to think about how you can use emerging media to genuinely create opportunities that will benefit your audience, not just your brand. For those of you that have ran successful engagement campaigns, please feel free to share some some tips with us!

Robin Rectenwald is a marketing & communications professional based in Pittsburgh, PA. She is currently a student at West Virginia University in the Integrated Marketing Communications graduate program. Check out her blog, Trendy Marketers, for more of her posts.

The Future Starts Now!

October 23, 2012

Rising 39 stories high in the skyline, the magnificent Marriott Marquis San Francisco Hotel exudes an essence of modern luxury and the convenience of an extraordinary downtown San Francisco hotel. For four power packed days, this lovely hotel in San Francisco served as the home of the Public Relations Society of America’s International Conference and largest public relations gathering in the world!

The theme of this year’s conference was aptly titled, “The Future Starts Now.”

As an IMC student at WVU, I was given the fantastic opportunity to experience this conference and represent the Mountaineers! Let me say, that I wasn’t disappointed. The conference included lots of opportunities for good networking and focused on several relevant topics for those keeping tabs on the trends taking place in the field of public relations and  integrated marketing communications. Here are a few of my favorite sessions:

  • How to Turn the Agency/Client Relationship Into a Win-Win
  • World Class Communication: How Great CEO’s Win With Key Audiences 
  • Speaking to Diverse Groups: Successful Strategies in Multicultural PR
  • Leading the Way for a More Social Business (My favorite!)

Overall, I had a fantastic time and was certainly able to combine the lessons learned in the IMC program with the topics being discussed in each workshop. One person in a particular workshop talked about the need to remind students who are fresh out of college about the importance of traditional marketing and ROI. Guess what? What a perfect opportunity to plug the IMC program at WVU and share some of my knowledge gained.

Sure seems like we’re going back to that theme of “real world application.”

Well, of course, because it’s true!

Thank you WVU for the awesome opportunity!

The APR Process – Is it Worth It?

August 22, 2012

APR Image

That is a question I get asked all the time.  I attained my APR in April 2011 and I absolutely think it was worth it.

According to the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) the Accredited in Public Relations (APR) credential is valuable to those practitioners who earn it; to the agencies, clients and organizations they represent; and, perhaps most importantly, to the public relations profession itself.

Established in 1964, the Accreditation Program is the profession’s only national post-graduate certification program. It measures a public relations practitioner’s fundamental knowledge of communications theory and its application; establishes advanced capabilities in research, strategic planning, implementation and evaluation; and demonstrates a commitment to professional excellence and ethical conduct.

I’m not gonna lie – the process is a bit daunting.  In a nutshell, here’s how the process went for me.

  1. I APPLIED – In May 2010, I completed the APR application and sent it (along with the testing fee) to the Universal Accreditation Board.  In about two weeks, I was notified by mail that I was eligible to pursue the APR. *Please note:  I was lucky to get my employer to pay for my testing fee.  It was considered professional development.  Plus, if you pass the computer-based exam, you (or your employer) receives a rebate of some of the fee.
  2. I PREPARED– My local PRSA chapter offered study sessions to prepare for the Readiness Review and exam so I immediately signed up.  They also paired me with a local APR as a mentor through the process.  That was invaluable.
  3. READINESS REVIEW – The Readiness Review is essentially a process to find out if the APR candidate is ready to take the computer-based exam.  I presented a portfolio of my work to a panel of APR professionals and responded to their interview questions – live and in person.  I allotted one-to-two hours for the readiness review session.  The panelists scored my knowledge, skills and abilities in 16 areas and considered my readiness to proceed.  They felt I was ready…so I moved on 🙂
  4. COMPUTER-BASED EXAMINATION – It took three hours of my life.  As soon as I was done, I got my  unofficial pass/did not pass feedback, in addition to my strengths and weaknesses in tested knowledge, skills and abilities.
  5. I PASSED!  – After a year-long process, I got my official letter of notification in April 2011 and had the honor of being pinned by the CEO and Chair of the National PRSA at our monthly chapter luncheon.

The process was exhausting, but I learned a lot about myself both professionally and personally.  Professionally, I was able to use the body of knowledge and preparation resources to fill gaps in my PR knowledge, skills and abilities, specifically in areas where my experience was limited.  I was also armed with a strategic process on how to practice PR that would be ethical, credible and able to be measured.  I have found that to be very important, especially when having to explain WHY we make the decisions we do in the communications field.

Personally, after going through the APR process, I realized I could actually handle pursuing my IMC degree. I know it seems backwards. “You already have your APR and now you want a master’s degree?”  Well, yeah. I do.  I see the value in having both.  Outside of the PR industry, the APR isn’t very well-known, but I can tell you that what I learned in the process made me a better practitioner.  Even if the outside world doesn’t see the value yet – I do, and I don’t mind being an ambassador to help spread the word.  At the same time, I know the reality is that having a master’s degree opens career doors wide open that were just cracked with my bachelor’s degree.

So here I am continuing the journey.  Have you thought about pursuing the APR?