Setting Measurable Objectives in PR

In public relations and in life, setting objectives is an important part of any process. Without this important step, all work that comes after becomes difficult to assess. After all, how do you know if you accomplished the goals of your public relations efforts if you never set them in the first place? When setting measurable objectives in PR, it is important they be meaningfulreasonable, and quantifiable. For the purposes of this blog, I will use the example of Arkansas Coding Academy, a small coding school affiliated with the University of Central Arkansas attempting to establish their online presence.

Reasonable objectives identify what can realistically be done. In the case of a smaller organization like Arkansas Coding Academy, a reasonable public relations objective would be to increase the number of social media followers by 100 in the next year. If the organization were to say they wanted to gain 5,000 followers instead, that would be less realistic.

Meaningful objectives add inherent value to an organization and takes into account stakeholders, themes and desired responses. A meaningful goal for Arkansas Coding Academy would take into account its current students, potential students, government or current software developers.

Quantifiable objectives are where the “measurement” enters the equation. These are the who, what, when, where and why objectives. Quantifiable objectives can be broken down into outputs, outcomes and business results. Outputs are the easily measurable accomplishments like clicks, mentions, views and impressions on social media platforms. These can be shown through simple analytics such as the “Engagement” section of Twitter or through social media scheduling websites like HootSuite.

HootSuite Analytics

Outcomes can be equated to a target audience’s awareness of your organization. Audience behavior, attitudes, comprehension and awareness of what you’re communicating is vital. If your audience sees a message (as in outputs), but doesn’t understand it, then your organization is not achieving its desired outcomes.

Business results are the tangible goods in public relations. This shows the organization things like change in revenue, market share or employee retention that come about as a result of your PR tactics.

Each of these quantifiable goals is vital to organizational success. Always make sure to gauge where you are as an organization prior to setting these goals so you have something to aspire to and measure later. Be aware of what your previous goals and their results were as well as the goals of your organizational competitors and ways you can assess incremental improvement in your organization. Make sure your goals have a who, what, when and why.


The Ethical Dilemma: PRSA’s Code of Ethics and You

Ethical dilemmas are present in every facet of our lives, including in the work place. The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) has a strong and enduring Code of Ethics which guides all practices within the profession. Its core values, comprised of honesty, advocacy, fairness, expertise, independence and loyalty, are the creed by which PR practitioners make their choices and the guiding principle they seek to maintain. While the values of the PRSA Code of Ethics are clear, real-life ethical dilemmas are not always as cut and dry as a devil and an angel taking up residence on either shoulder to tell you right from wrong.

This can be seen in multiple avenues in the current political climate, with representatives of all creeds, backgrounds and political affiliations spewing words that would, to put it lightly, not be up to PRSA Code of Ethics standards.

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One such example of a failure in honesty and advocacy can be seen in Vice President Mike Pence. Pence, who for years during his governorship refused to address an ever-growing public health crisis as an AIDS outbreak tore through his state, spoke Thursday at the White House regarding World AIDS Day. Pence was forced to declare a state of emergency in 2015 when the outbreak became so pervasive that there was a reported total of 80 confirmed positive HIV tests in one rural Indiana county alone in 2014.

The problem here is that Pence’s voting records have not traditionally advocated for these constituents affected by AIDS in the slightest, making his speech Thursday seem far from genuine. In fact, some might argue that his vehement opposition to Planned Parenthood programs led to a spike in HIV cases, as the Planned Parenthood clinic was the only HIV testing center in Scott County, where the epidemic was centered. This coupled with his long-time voting records opposing LGBT rights and prescribing prayer as the principle remedy for drug use (all while being hesitant to support lifesaving needle exchange programs).

The Code of Ethics would argue that Vice President Pence was not advocating in the best interests of his constituents and those who were depending on him in this time. After all that, his speech Thursday regarding his passion for ending the AIDS crisis once and for all seemed a bit too little too late and disingenuous given his previous disregard for the expertise of medical professionals, his low standards of honesty and his desire to advocate only for those whose beliefs match his own.

What are some ethical dilemmas you’ve seen in the news lately?

Thick As Thieves: A PR Pro’s Guide to Assessing and Strengthening Relationships

Agreement, Business, Businessman, Businesswoman, Client

Relationships are hard. Relationships are especially hard when they involve business. How do you nurture business relationships? Are they the same as regular relationships? The answer varies, but, for the most part, yes.

According to Hon and Grunig, relationships can be assessed using six key concepts. For the purposes of this blog, I will use my own employer, Arkansas Coding Academy, to illustrate these concepts.

The first concept is control mutuality. in theory, this means that all parties agree on who gets to have influence and when. For ArCA, this means that students, teachers and staff all have to be on the same page about who is controlling the situation. In the classroom, the instructors are typically the ones exerting influence, but on graduation day, for example, the students get to exert influence by presenting their capstone projects and working alongside staff to network with potential employers.

Trust is a big one and is vital to any relationship, whether its personal or professional. At ArCA, for example, instructors and students have to build a rapport and work with the staff to build a culture of trust in order for the students’ educational (and with it the organization’s) endeavors to be successful.

Satisfaction is simply what it sounds like. In order for all parties to be satisfied, everyone’s individual needs should be met accordingly. In the case of ArCA, students must be equipped by the staff and instructors to be successful, and their successes reflect back to the organization.

Commitment is what drives relationships and ultimately determines how dedicated each party is to making the relationship a successful one. If ArCA students weren’t committed to their studies, the program would only leverage a minuscule threshold of success. Likewise, if the instructors and staff weren’t committed to the students, they would have a harder time being successful as well.

The final two concepts are exchange relationship and communal relationship. In an exchange relationship, there is a trade-off with some expectation of a mutually beneficial return in the future. For example, ArCA students invest in the programs with the expectation that the staff and instructors will provide them with the best education possible. Likewise, staff and instructors equip students with the tools to be successful while having the expectation that students will also take ownership of their successes and failures. In a communal relationship, both parties are concerned for each other without regard for their own benefits. ArCA demonstrates this through its rich alumni relationships. Although the program has only existed for a few years, it has a large network of “success stories” who continues to give back to the program even after completing it themselves. Likewise, ArCA continues to support and cheer on its graduates, even when this has no immediate benefit to them.

So, you see, business relationships are a lot like personal ones. You have to put time into them and work to make them grow and thrive. What are some ways your own business and professional relationships follow Hon’s and Grunig’s concepts?

PR & Marketing- Can We All Just Get Along?

To the average Joe, public relations and marketing are one in the same. For someone with at least a surface level knowledge of the professions, perhaps someone who works in an organization with practitioners from these backgrounds, PR may be defined as the “gloss” of an organization while marketing is defined by its numbers. The most sophisticated definitions of these disciplines, however, reveal a slightly more complex story.

In a guest article for the Public Relations Society of America’s popular blog, PRSay, author Don Hale addresses the differences head-on. On the blog, Hale, who is currently the Vice President of Public Relations and Marketing Communications at Georgia State University as well as the principal of his own PR firm, highlights his experiences with both disciplines. Hale has long been an advocate for PR professionals, who he says do not often receive the same level of recognition as their marketing colleagues. Like Dr. James E. Grunig, who points out the relative modernity of the PR profession in comparison to marketing, Hale says that marketing can use its history of providing more concrete deliverables as an advantage when communicating its overall worth to an organization’s leadership.

Despite a historic lack of concrete figures associated with PR, Grunig and Hale both emphasize PR’s contributions to society overall. Marketing often uses a two-way asymmetrical model when communicating with constituents and clients as a way to sell a product or service. PR also attempts to further an organization, but it does it in a way that strives to further the organization’s mission through relationships with constituents. Public relations is strategic in its pursuit of fostering continuing and lasting relationships with an organization’s constituents. By gauging client sentiment toward an organization, we can measure the effectiveness of the organization’s PR strategies.

The truth is both public relations and marketing are complex and multi-faceted, and while they differ in tactical approach, they both strive to further their organization in some way. Neither discipline is defined by one single characteristic. Despite the common notion that the two are at odds with one another, in organizations containing both a marketing and a public relations team, the ultimate goal is the same.


The Care and Keeping of a 20-something

One thing I have learned as I’ve started my 20’s is the importance of self-care. When you’re a teenager, no one bats an eyelash when you drive through Taco Bell before a Friday night football game or when you forget to take your makeup off before you go to bed.

But we’re not teenagers anymore. It’s time to start getting our stuff together, ladies. So to get started, here’s a short list of tips I use to stay on track in my self-care routine.

  1. Eat better, live better.

Taco Bell and Sonic runs are the best, and for a college girl on a budget,  they can be lifesaving when you a) don’t want to cook or b) don’t know HOW to cook. There is a stigma around healthy eating. Fast food is cheaper, quicker, and tastes better. But that’s not necessarily true. Grabbing an apple is just as easy as grabbing French fries. And it makes you feel SO MUCH BETTER. Here are some of my favorite snacks when I’m in a pinch and want something a little more on the healthy side.

2. Take your makeup off.

Don’t go to bed with makeup on. I mean it. You will get wrinkles. You’re going to clog up your pores. And no one wants to wake up like this.

taylor swift mascara

3. Breathe.

Seriously. Sometimes it’s just that simple. Take a minute, put things into perspective, and ask yourself if it’s really worth getting yourself all worked up over. 9/10 times it’s not. Take some time to do something you love. Read a book, go for a run, or make some coffee (or do all three of those things-you do you, girl!), and let your mind relax for a little bit.


What are some of your favorite ways to take care of yourself?




“I’m Grown.” (I think)

Since coming to college, I’ve uttered some variation of this phrase time and time again.

“I’m grown.”

“I can do this by myself.”

“I don’t need help.”

My whole life, I’ve been surrounded by strong, independent women. My mom, female family members, teachers, and mentors have all influenced me from day one. I’ve always thought I was pretty independent, too. I can pick new things up pretty quickly, I don’t mind being by myself, and I don’t ask for things to just be handed to me. But there’s more to it than that. Despite my so-called independence in my newfound decade of life, I still carry some of the qualities that are far from desirable for an independent woman.

In anticipation of turning 20, I read all the articles you could think of. You know the type. The “20 Things Everyone Should Know How to Do By 20” articles. Like this one. In my extensive research, I came to a frightening realization.

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After a meltdown that looked a little something like this….

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…I had a particularly lengthy chat with (you guessed it) my mom, and I came to another realization. It was okay that I was still unsure. Being independent doesn’t mean that you know it all. As a matter of fact, part of becoming independent is admitting that you DON’T know it all.

I’m not perfect.  Sometimes I’m still a little too stubborn and proud to admit that I need help. I also sometimes forget to set my alarm for class in the mornings or to set a timer when I’m making macaroni and cheese out of a box. But, hey, nobody’s perfect.

The truth is, I will probably never be telling the truth when I say “I don’t need help”. No one really is. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Read on for my next step towards independence…



The sophomore slump..and other complaints

Turning 20 hits you like a freight train. You’re no longer a teenager, and the world wants you to know it. Twenty is a weird age, y’all. Some seem like they already have it figured out, and some people have no clue what’s going on. If you’re like me, you’re somewhere in the middle. You still eat food from a drive-through a little more often than you should, you watch four Netflix shows at a time, and you kinda-sorta-maybe know what you want to do for a career after college.

In my freshman year of college, all that stuff was okay. You get a free pass when you’re 18 and living on your own for the first time. No one says anything when you spend most of your free time calling your mom asking how to do your laundry or wondering how long you can leave your leftovers in your mini fridge.

But then you become a sophomore. Your major is picked (maybe), you’ve settled in, and somehow there’s supposed to be a magical transformation where you’ve got your whole life planned out through retirement. The acceptable answer to “What kind of job do you want to get with your degree?” or “When are you going to settle down?” is no longer “I don’t know.” You’re supposed to know. You’re 20 years old. Better figure it out soon. It’s terrifying, to say the least.

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I get it. I get that I’m paying a ridiculous amount of money for an education I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do with yet. I get that whole “when I was your age” thing (because apparently 20-year-olds used to have everything all figured out). But no one prepares you for turning 20 and having to figure it out all on your own. A big part of why I wanted to write this blog was to help with that. It’s okay to not know everything just because I’ve somehow kept myself alive for two whole decades. I know that.

Urban Dictionary defines a “sophomore slump” (or “suffermore year”) as “the year you learn more about yourself after being jaded about college because freshman year is over and it’s time to get serious”. College student or not, everyone has their own equivalent of a sophomore slump at some point or another, and they’re right. It is time to get serious. But that doesn’t mean you have to have it all put together the day you turn 20 years old.

Your 20s are supposed to be a time to figure out who you are completely on your own time, and no one figures it out at the same pace. That’s not a bad thing. If anything, it’s a great thing because it means you’re learning to think for yourself and really, truly figure it out as you go. So here’s to figuring it out together.

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I hope you enjoyed, readers! Till next time…