The journey is almost complete: What I’ve learned from my service-learning project with BRAC

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Wow! When I reflect on my experiences this semester in MC 4001 (PR Writing), that is the first word that comes to mind. From the sleepless nights resulting from completing assignments at the last minute, to having the task of completing a mini-campaign, this semester in MC 4001 has been hectic. As a junior mass communications major at LSU, I can truly say that this course has been the most demanding mass comm course that I have taken by far. Although this course has been demanding, frustrating and very stressful at times, being in this course has also been a rewarding experience. This course has prepared me for a career in public relations, and I would like to share a few reasons why in this blog.

As I shared in a previous blog post link, when I sat in MC 4001 for the first day I was overwhelmed. Listening to Dr. Jensen Moore read the syllabus was equivalent to a child listening to a horror story. Thoughts instantly rushed through my mind. How am I going to do all of this work? What kind of grade am I going to get? Will I have to drop this course? Throughout the course, all three of those questions have been answered, and I am satisfied with the answers.

MC 4001 has given me knowledge and experience that will be applicable to my future job. I have gained a lot of experience as a writer. I now have to ability to write a long list of documents that include: pitch letters, media advisories, social media releases and fundraising letters. Before enrolling in this course, I had no idea what some of those documents were.

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This service-learning course has also given me the opportunity the work on a campaign with a real life client. Working on a campaign for a real life client has been an exciting and eye-opening experience. My agency, Spotlight BR, has focused on helping BRAC expose visitors and residents of Baton Rouge to entertaining nightlife options.  We have developed a SCVNGR trek that features eight venues that can serve as source of entertainment for adults at night. The trek is composed of a series of challenges that take place at the eight locations. Rewards are given to application users who check-in and complete each challenge at the locations listed. If you would like to find out more information about SCVNGR, here is a link with more info here.

It is amazing that I can finally see the finish line. The end of this service-learning course is near. The journey has been long, difficult and tiring at times, but if I had the choice, I wouldn’t change anything about it.

Below is a link to a video of me describing my experience as a MC 4001 student.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQ0CbcWBD2Y

If you are interested in seeing how this course affects the rest of my tenure as a college student and how it propels me to successful career in PR, you should continue to follow my blog. You can also follow me on Twitter @_Ramon_H.

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A new understanding of public relations through working with BRAC

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Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, I sat in my Mass Comm 4001 (PR Writing) class not knowing what to expect. I knew that I would gain necessary experience for the field that I plan to enter one day, but I didn’t know to how much experience I would gain. As I sat and listened to my professor recite the course objectives and syllabus, I became aware that this would be a service-learning course. Not only would I have the opportunity to gain experience writing documents that PR professional write, but I also would be given the opportunity to work with a client.

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The client that my class has been given the opportunity to work with is BRAC, a nonprofit whose mission is to propel the community of the Baton Rouge metropolitan area to a more prosperous economic future. If you are interested in learning more about BRAC, you may click this link here. Working with BRAC has helped shape my view of PR. Through this service-learning project, I have learned the importance of communication in PR. Communication skills are essential to a successful career in PR. Basically, if you are considering having a career in PR but you do not have good communication skills, then you should consider choosing another field. Here is a link to an article that discusses the importance of communication in the PR practice link.

Public relations professionals are in the middle of the communication cycle. The client communicates its message to us. We communicate that message to the target audience through the most effective medium to reach that audience. The audience receives and reacts to the message. Then we evaluate how effectively we delivered the message, and we figure out if the message or medium needs to be altered. Working with BRAC, has allowed me to see the importance of this cycle. So far in this project, we have focused on communicating with BRAC so that we can effectively communicate with their target audience(s). We want the message that we deliver to align with BRAC’s message.

This service-learning project has also shown me the importance of building mutually beneficial relationships with clients. This relates to my previous post about stewardship. If you would like to read the post, click this link here.  I have realized that Spotlight BR, my group’s PR agency, and BRAC cannot have a successful partnership if we aren’t “on the same page” with one another. For each of us to achieve our goals, we need to have a relationship that functions well. The partnership of Spotlight BR and BRAC has definitely accomplished that.

As this service-learning project progresses, I am learning more about PR and what it takes to work in this field. If you want to learn more about my service-learning experiences, continue to follow my blog https://ramonhardy13.wordpress.com/. You can also follow me on Twitter @_Ramon_H for more updates.

BRAC utilizes a new form of social media

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“The best way to have a role in society is to understand how people are talking about things in real time.” This quote from Jean Philipe Maheu, sums up the importance of social media and its role in the lives of people today. For those who may not be educated on what social media is, here’s an article that explains it (link). It’s difficult to imagine life without social media. What would a world without status updates, tweets, photos uploaded to Instagram or videos uploaded to YouTube be like? Without thinking of an eloquent philosophical answer, I would say that life without social media would be boring and incomplete.

Browsing social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest and LinkedIn, has become an integral part of our daily routine. Browsing social media sites is the first thing that I do when I wake up is and the last thing that I do before I go to sleep. There is not a day that passes that I don’t check my Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Social media is my tool to communicate with people that I don’t see on a daily basis or people who I have never met.

Social media is a communication tool for me, and now businesses and organizations are using it to communicate. Instead of using social media to see what song their friend listened to this morning or what show they watched, organizations are now using social media for promotional purposes. This is exactly what the Baton Rouge Area Chamber is doing with its use of SCVNGR. SCVNGR is not your “normal” social media site. It doesn’t allow you just sit in front of your computer or scroll through your phone. SCVNGR is a geolocation-based mobile gaming application that allows users to earn points and rewards for completing challenges or checking in at various locations. It compels its users to be active by giving incentives for completing treks. To find out more about SCVNGR click the following link.

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My classmates and I are responsible for creating treks that promote life in and around the Baton Rouge metropolitan area. The purpose of the treks is to retain residents of the Baton Rouge metropolitan area, and to attract residents of other cities and states to Baton Rouge. The treks that my class are working on include Nightlife, Arts and Culture, Discover BR and Get out of Town.

As I stated in my previous post, my group is responsible for the Nightlife trek. We are focusing on spotlighting nightlife attractions in the Baton Rouge metropolitan area through the use of SCVNGR. We want to expose people in the Baton Rouge community and surrounding communities to nightlife activities that they are not familiar with. The use of SCVNGR will compel them to experience these activities instead of just reading or hearing about them.

Exposure to these unfamiliar places has undoubtedly been made easier by the use of social media and the evolution of technology. Without SCVNGR, we would simply be informing people about these activities with the hope of them taking the opportunity to experience them. Now we expect that they will experience them through the use of SCVNGR.

Feel free to follow me on Twitter at @_ramon_h to receive updates on BRAC and Spotlight BR’s use of SCVNGR.