The Shop is “joining the conversation”!

I’ve worked at The Shop in Simpsonville, S.C. since I was in the tenth grade.  I worked every day after school, in the summers during high school, and during Fall/Thanksgiving/Christmas breaks while attending Clemson.  The Shop is a locally owned small business tmonogram1hat makes custom draperies and monograms EVERYTHING you can think of.  It is because of The Shop that my obsession of monograms has grown into an unhealthy one.

While working at The Shop, I performed all kinds of tasks ranging from monogramming to working on the custom drapes that were created to selling merchandise in the front of the store.  I’ve worked with a number of The Shop’s employees and have become close with the owner, Kim Wickert.  Kim is one of the most outgoing, funny, creative, flexible bosses that I’ve ever worked for.  But Kim is more than that, she is a family friend who frequently comes to our house with her family to sit on our porch and talk about… life.

After telling Kim about how I was learning the impact of social media, we decided it would be smart for her to start blogging.  I volunteered to help Kim with her blog and provide advice that may help her company grow.  We plan on sharing funny “Shop” stories that will give The Shop a personal touch.  We also plan on featuring a product every week that will show customers different products that The Shop offers.  We are hoping that with this blog, The Shop will gain customers and hopefully peak the interest of others who may not know much about The Shop.

I would not consider myself a “pro” at blogging by any means, so I’m posing this question to you…

What are the DO’s and DON’T’s of blogging for a small business? I look forward to all of your advice, comments, and questions!

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A Luz de Giselli

For the past two summers, I have interned at Verizon Wireless in their public relations department and Jeff Dezen Public Relations in Greenville, S.C.  While there, I wrote a variety of news releases and helped distribute them to the correct media.  Last week, in my stakeholder comm. class, we discussed news releases.  We also discussed how to figure out who to send certain pitches and releases  to and how to create media lists.

We were given a PR challenge in class to pitch an artist from Seneca, S.C. who makes interesting light  bulbs.  Our team assignment was to make up our artist’s name, background, and story.  We decided that our artist’s name was going to be Giselli Dias and she was going to be from Brazil.  Our imaginary artist moved to Seneca after meeting her husband while he was doing research in Brazil for his new restaurant.  She makes one of a kind, moderately priced light bulbs.  Our artist’s business is named “A Luz de Giselli”, which translates to: The Light of Giselli.

We also needed to create a media list of 15 media sources and 5 bloggers.  Our team’s strategy was to mainly look for South Carolina print media who specifically wrote about the home.  We each searched individually and collaborated our findings in a folder on Vocus.com.  It was really easy to navigate the Web site and figure out how to search for journalists with a certain niche.

Our group assignment was to draft two pitches: one to a specific blogger and one to a specific journalist.  It was good working with a group because everyone had a new idea to contribute that made the pitches better.  After researching the blog that we pitched to, we molded our pitch to appeal to the “home decorator blogger”.  We made our pitch short, sweet, and to the point.  We also explained that the blogger hadn’t posted about home decorating with lights and that featuring lights would be a good idea.  For our journalist pitch, we decided on a writer for the South Carolina Home and Garden magazine.  In this pitch, we made sure to mention that the light bulbs were made in the state of South Carolina so that it was relevant to their magazine.

I feel as though my internships have helped me in my stakeholder comm class because of the experience that I have gained through hands on practice.  Before we talked about media lists in class, I knew what they were because I created many of them over the past two summers.  Instead of Vocus, I used MediaAtlas.com to make media lists at JDPR.  After using both Web sites, I’ve noticed that they are very similar and give just about the same information.  To me, it is interesting to learn how to pitch stories to certain journalists or bloggers because pitching wasn’t one of my responsibilities during my internships.

I like putting my past experiences to use… especially when they have to deal with class assignments.

Joining the Conversation

The first thing that we did in Dr. V’s Stakeholder Communication class was watch a movie off of PROpenMic about what public relations is all about. Among other tips that PR professionals suggested for future professionals, “joining in the conversation” was one that really stuck out to me. Personally, I thought that “joining in the conversation” meant suggesting your ideas and opinions while in meetings or while talking with team members or employers. In reality, “joining in the conversation” means joining and participating in social media. I learned that many PR professionals are using social media to network, learn new ideas, and help one another out. I quickly decided that one of my goals for the semester was to become an expert with as many different types of social media as I could. After all, I KNOW that I don’t want to miss out on ANY conversations.

I am really glad that I am being forced to jump into the cold water of social media this semester in Dr. V’s class. From the advice that I have been given, it is hard to know exactly what social media is without trying it out. Since this is my first blog post, I hope to slowly become more familiar with exactly what to blog about and to read other professionals’ blogs to learn more. I recently joined Twitter and now I am addicted! My goal is to start tweeting about ideas they may be able to help others.

As PRSSA chapter president, I have had the honor of meeting and networking with the many speakers that we’ve had come speak to our chapter. Last night, Abby Blaylock of Jackson Spaulding in Atlanta came to speak to our chapter about the benefits of social media networking. Abby is a role model for us all as she had five, yes five, internships while going to school at UGA.

Abby mentioned social media that I had never heard of before. Because of the way that she talked about each of these sites, I plan to look into joining and exploring each one. She talked about LinkedIN which she described as a more professional Facebook with resumes. She explained that with LinkedIN professionals can “introduce” students to possible employers and others who may have possible internships. Abby also explained a Web site called HARO (help a reporter out). On HARO, reporters post questions that PR professionals try to answer to the best of their ability. She encouraged us to join HARO so that we could see the types of stories that were being written by key reporters. The last site that Abby convinced me to join was PROpenMic. I know that we’ve talked about PROpenMic in Stalkholder Comm, but hearing again how important it was to join and network with other PR students and professionals persuaded me to sign up for an account.

Abby explained four ways that social media helped her in her career: it instantly gave her more visibility in her company from the start, she has been able to educate her colleagues, she has been able to educate her clients, and she has positioned herself as an expert.

I hope that learning more about these new social media sites will help me become a better PR student and possibly give me an edge over other professionals in my field in the future. Learning these different types of social media will help me “join the conversation.” I encourage you to try and explore all of these social media sites as well. The only problem is trying to find time to keep up with all of them!