Just trying to RELATE…

PR Connection: Toiling Tiger and Reckless Roethlisberger – PR and Pro Athletes

Posted in Assignments,Social Media by meshae on April 20, 2010

As a sports fanatic, I do my best to keep up with current sports happenings and the athletes that keep the industry buzzing.

Lately, two athletes from two different arenas come to mind, golfing great Tiger Wood and NFL quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

With the 2010 Master’s Tournament only a few weeks passed, the media jumped after Woods announced his return to competition. I tuned in to some of the Master’s coverage and sure enough there was “more than enough” coverage on Woods. Tweets were posted the whole week that acknowledged the massive amount of information being shared about the blemished golfer, his wife and his current “situation.”

After sharing his adultery with the world, Woods faced some pretty tough audiences and arguably lowered himself to the “just another pro-athlete” status. I’m sure most would agree that prior to his “accident” over the 2009 Thanksgiving holidays; his image was spotless compared to his athletic colleagues. Since last November, Woods and his entourage have been toiling to reclaim his position as one of the world’s most respectable athletes. Is it possible?

The question has been asked before, but why is it that we scrutinize the personal lives of professional athletes?

Before you attempt to answer that, let’s move to Pittsburgh Steeler Ben Roethlisberger. After a March visit to small-town Georgia in 2010, the QB found himself in the spotlight…a not-so-good one might I add.

According to the Associated Press, Roethlisberger was accused of sexually assaulting a college student in Milledgeville, GA. Fortunately for him, charges were dropped after an investigation was completed; however NFL commissioner Roger Goodell didn’t let Roethlisberger go without consequence.

Because of the athlete’s irresponsible behavior, Goodell suspended him for six games this upcoming season. Some may ask “why,” especially considering that the charges were dropped. However, from a PR perspective, Goodell’s decision is one of merit. The suspension shows that the NFL will not tolerate the reckless, negligent behavior of its athletes and that league values its reputation.

I chose to discuss these two athletes because unlike, former Atlanta Falcons QB Michael Vick and Tennessee Titans’ Adam “Pacman” Jones, Woods nor Roethlisberger committed a crime. Although some might argue their wrongs were no different, the consequences administered were indeed.

Turning my focus back to public relations, I can’t help, but discuss the aforementioned “scrutiny” that “we,” society place upon professional athletes, as well as other public figures. It is important for public relations specialists working in the sports industry to recognize this “scrutiny” and be aware of its challenge.

Our job is to keep the images of clients and organizations we represent clean. When issues arise, we must be swift to the scene and remedy the situation. Though other professional industries face scrutiny, in my opinion those who venture to the wide world of sports face the greatest of it.


My Chat with PR PRO, Marla Bruner

Posted in Assignments,PR Praticum by meshae on April 2, 2010

Recently, I was fortunate enough to sit down and interview Georgia Southern University (GSU) alum and Public Relations professional Marla Bruner.

Ms. Bruner has been in the field since 1999, the year she graduated from Georgia Southern. Currently working as the internal communications manager for GSU, she had a lot of valuable information to offer. I can honestly say that I left her office motivated and even more excited about starting my career.

As Ms. Bruner and I talked, she really confirmed many things that my professors had already said.

She graduated from Georgia Southern with a Communications degree and is now working on her Master’s degree in Literature. Because she is a GSU alum, I felt a real connection to her and was interested in all she had to say.

I started the interview asking how prepared she felt after graduation. Her response was very encouraging. “Coursework gives you an idea of what you’re getting into,” said Bruner. She ensured me that there is “a means to the madness” of the sometimes frustrating coursework of your undergraduate career.

As we began to talk about today’s “college student,” Ms. Bruner emphasized the opportunities college students have these days. She also talked about how students underestimate their experiences and complain about inadequate resumes.

“Students have many opportunities to get experience,” Ms. Bruner said. “The question is, what translates as experience?”

College offers students many opportunities to gain experience for their prospective careers. Students should take advantage of those opportunities and get involved. By doing so, their “experience” could land them great jobs and careers. Ms. Bruner advises students to “put on their PR hats” and thoroughly explain their experience and what they can offer future employers. As PR students, we are trained to do a variety of things and it’s important to be able to get that message across when applying for jobs.

Ms. Bruner’s everyday responsibilities reflect the amount of variety and flexibility needed in the PR world.

At Georgia Southern, Ms. Bruner is the informational “go-to” person. Partnering with Information Technology services, she updates the university calendar with new dates and events. She also populates the university’s homepage and is partly responsible for the new MyGeorgiaSouthern layout and design. Atop her informational responsibilities, Ms. Bruner also works closely with campus departments and organizations. Although the university has its own graphic design department, her knowledge allows her to design things as well.

And when it comes to writing, Ms. Bruner’s remarks were not surprising. “I write every day all day,” said Ms. Bruner. She shared that taking classes that highlight writing for electronic media can be very beneficial. She also emphasized how important it is to be familiar with the different types of formatting involved in public relations writing.

Basically, she was saying, “learn everything.”

The life of a public relations pro is very busy. Ms. Bruner revealed that she completes about 14-15 projects a day.I quickly realized how important it is to be a well-rounded Public Relations professional.

Below, you’ll find Ms. Bruner’s 3 tips to someone just starting out in Public Relations:

  1. Do the work for them. Give your publishers and designers a break by doing most of the work for them. This way you can guarantee a good relationship and also be sure the final product is 100% correct.
  2. Be in contact…constantly. When working with clients, be sure to stay in contact. Being in contact with them ensures that you’re doing the job they expect and are happy with. As the PR professional, your responsibility is to make the client happy.
  3. Prioritize by audience. Know your target audience. Your public relations attempts may go unnoticed if you fail to identify your audience.

When asked what she wished she’d known before graduating, I was a bit surprised by her response. Ms. Bruner spoke of the myths that surround protected salaries and life after college. “Your job won’t be about just public relations or marketing,” Ms. Bruner said. She shared how important it is to be familiar with the entire office/organization. Students should also save their work. “Keep everything,” she advised. This helps the portfolio-building process a lot easier.

Since graduating college, she’s been able to see the “major shift from print to web” firsthand.

“Today’s communication industry is very fast-paced,” she said. “People expect a response immediately these days, so you only get one chance.”

Ms. Bruner said it is a must that a public relations professional be “constantly updated,” because time is of the essence.

I wrapped up my interview with Ms. Bruner with what I think was one of the most important questions I asked.

What makes someone a good candidate for a job? What makes he/she stand out?

“How one would handle certain situations is one of the most important things to learn during the hiring process,” said Ms. Bruner.

She also listed having examples of a candidate’s work in a digital portfolio and the ability to manage crisis as other important factors. When hiring, Ms. Bruner said, “I wanna see it, not hear it.”

Overall, my chat with Ms. Bruner was amazing and she made me really excited about graduating and beginning my career in Public Relations. To view some of her work, visit www.georgiasouthern.edu.

“Who’s that girl on the field?” – Sports and PR Podcast

Posted in Assignments,Social Media by meshae on April 1, 2010


For my Social Media class, my professor, Barbara Nixon asked us to create a podcast that related to some form of PR.

Because I am a big sports fanatic, I decided to do mine on Sports and Public Relations.

I’ve provided a link to the podcast, as well as an outline for the podcast below. Listen in and enjoy!

Tune in at: http://meshae.podbean.com/

Outline of Episode 1: “Who’s that girl on the field?”


  • MeShae Hankerson, Senior Public Relations major
  • Today’s topic – “Public Relations in Sports”
  • Aspiring Sport PR Professionals

Why Public Relations is important in sports:

  • Sports has an international reach
  • Touches all aspects and areas of Public Relations
  • Crisis management, event planning, community relations, and media relations

What do Sports PR Professionals do?:

  • Everything
  • The job is 24 hours and 7 days a week.
  • Important to have a new media background and interest in communication.

Advice to current and aspiring Sports PR professionals:

  • Visit Brian Gleason’s blog and read “3 Items for the Sports PR person to keep handy” – http://prinsportsblog.com/
  • Network. Network. Network.

Trade Book Review: Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody

Posted in Assignments,Social Media by meshae on March 11, 2010

What did I say?

Posted in Assignments,PR Praticum,Social Media by meshae on March 9, 2010
Tags: ,

Here are the links to my comments on my classmates’ blogs:

Let’s Make Whuffie: A reflection on Tara Hunt’s “The Whuffie Factor”

Posted in Assignments by meshae on March 3, 2010

Check out this brief presentation on Tara Hunt’s The Whuffie Factor:

Week 2: T.O.W.-The Haitian Disaster from a PR point of view

Posted in Assignments,Social Media by meshae on February 9, 2010

On January 12, 2010, the world was taken by storm as one of its poorest countries suffered what many would consider one of the worst disasters in history. After almost two weeks, the Haitian disaster continues to make headlines in newspapers and breaking news on television. In some way or another, we’ve all witnessed the countless efforts of humanity to run to the rescue of the Haitian people.

The American Red Cross, known for its international philanthropic work, was quick to use social media to rally support for their efforts in the Haitian disaster.

By sending a quick text message, supporters all over the world could donate to the Red Cross’s Haiti Relief Fund. Long gone are the days of collection buckets. Shortly after the news hit the airwaves, large amounts of money were already being collected.

Not only were text messages used, but social networks were also. Sites like Twitter allowed account holders to add “twibbons” to their avatars, commemorating the lives of those killed in the earthquake.

As a society, we were able to see the true power of social media through this disaster. I, myself, was able to get complete coverage on what was going on and how to get involved through Twitter.

With social media, the world became one big “family” of sorts and was able to aid those in need. As a communications professional, I am proud to see the positive side of social media finally unveiled on a global level.

Reflections of a PR Student…chapter.eight

Posted in Assignments,Uncategorized by meshae on May 4, 2009

In chapter eight of my Intro to Public Relations book, the final step in the public relations process is discussed.

Evaluation is the final step in executing a PR campaign. In the evaluation stage, the results of the campaign are compared to the established objectives set in the planning stage.

According to my Intro to PR book, the evaluation stage is implemented because of a desire to do a better job next time. Any respectable establishment should strive to improve its customer satisfaction and overall performance. By making an evaluation of what was done and how, PR agency’s can find out what works and what doesn’t.

In order to complete an evaluation, there must be a set of objectives from the beginning. Also, those  must be measurable.

There are several different ways to evaluate an agency’s performance, including measurements of the message exposure, audience awareness, audience action, and audience attitudes. Another way to evaluate performance is through the measurement of supplemental activities.

The books states that 4 or 5 percent of a typical public relations budget is allocated to evaluations and measurement. Although seemingly small, this is a very large amount spent on ensuring that the job done is well.

Reflections of a PR student…chapter.seven

Posted in Assignments by meshae on May 3, 2009

The third step in the RACE or the public relations process is “communication.” Communication as a whole is in my opinion the most important concept involved in Public Relations.

However, in this case communication is the stage of the process where the decisions made in steps one and two are implemented.

According to my Intro to Public Relations book, the communication process is used to inform, persuade, motivate, and achieve mutual understanding. When creating a message for a client, it is important to make sure it is appropriate, meaningful, memorable, understandable and believable to their targeted audience.

Several communication models show how an audience receives a message and although they all vary, most contain four main elements. Those elements include a sender (encoder), a message, a channel and a receiver (decoder). Some models include a fifth element, feedback. Feedback provides PR researchers and clients alike, the information they need. Feedback is essentially two-way communication. It is a dialogue between the sender and receiver. Once the receiver receives a message from the sender, the receiver switches roles and becomes the sender by sending a message back.

I found this really cool diagram that illustrated the 2 way communication concept…


In creating a message, the PR practitioner should strive to grab the attention of the audience it targets. Audiences have different behaviors that determine whether or not they will pay attention to a message or not. Understanding the audience’s mental tendencies, the PR agency can tailor the message and its concepts to reach that particular audience.

PR campaign shold be able to be understood across cultures. PR agencies should consider cultural barriers of their audience, including language and literacy.

 Communication is successful based on the actions of the audience. If the audience reacts positively then the campaign was executed well.

Relections of a PR student…chapter.six

Posted in Assignments by meshae on May 3, 2009

Proper planning is very important in the Public Relations process and is actually the second step in the process.

My Intro to Public Relations book gives an acronym for the Public Relations process. RACE stands for Research, Action, Communication and Evaluation. Planning is the equivalent of “action.”

In order to successfully complete a campaign or satisfy a client, a PR practitioner must be able to plan out a campaign after identifying the problem/challenge. To accomplish the company’s goals, the PR agency must put great thought into a sequence of tasks that will give the best result.

Having “strategy” is the key to an accurate plan. Planning also involves the use of several different media tools, like news releases, media kits and press conferences.

The book’s text compares the task of planning a PR campaign to putting together pieces in a jigsaw puzzle. Once research is done, the pieces of the puzzle are ready to be put together. There are two approaches the planning stage.

The first approach mentioned in the text is Management by objective (MBO). This approach is very specific and focuses on the organization’s set objectives. The second approach is a strategic planning model. These building blocks provide a clear background for clients and PR agents by asking detailed questions.

A PR plan identifies what needs to be done, why it needs to be done and how to accomplish it. Though some vary, most PR plans are structured by the following 8 elements:

  1. Situation
  2. Objectives
  3. Audience
  4. Strategy
  5. Tactics
  6. Calendar/timetable
  7. Budget
  8. Evaluation

To finalize the planning stage, the listed elements must be included and thoroughly investigated.

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