My Contributions to the UHCSC Capstone Team

For the end of our Capstone class, we’ve been asked to document all of the ways in which we contributed to the Upstate Homeless Coalition of South Carolina.  I can honestly say that I’ve put more heart and soul into this project and class then I have in any other class of my four years at Clemson University.

My experience with this class started out a semester before the actual class met for the first time.  I, along with 4 of my classmates, met with Dr. David Novak in December to discuss the class and possible ways that we could help the Upstate Homeless Coalition.  Ideas were thrown around and possible ways to organize groups was also discussed.  Over Christmas break, I researched the UHCSC by joining their Facebook group, looking at their Web site, and signing up for their free newsletter.  I noticed that the UHCSC puts on an annual ball every February to help raise money.

Once our class met on January 7, 2010, it seemed as though everyone was ready to get to business.  We read the book on homelessness and communication called, “Who Is My Neighbor” by Phillip Tompkins and reflected on Tomkin’s experiences with homeless people and shelters.   We also talked about the Bridesmaid’s Ball and received the contact information for the volunteer chair.  I immediately invited my friends to volunteer with me and sent the names to Annette at the UHCSC.  I also was able to get Toussaint Law Firm (the firm where I intern) to donate tickets to the circus for the Bridesmaid’s Ball silent auction.  At the auction, my friends and I helped with the silent auction along with adding fun moves to the dance floor!

In my social media group, I took over the UHCSC Twitter account along with Lauren Patterson.  We tweeted daily during the week about upcoming events, interesting facts about homelessness, and news about the UHCSC.  I wrote the “How-To” guide for Twitter for whoever takes over the project at the Upstate Homeless Coalition.  The guide included how to log on to Twitter, post, and different aspects that will help raise awareness of the UHCSC. 

I also helped Beckman Perry with the UHCSC blog.  I uploaded a post once a week to help build the blog.  I helped promote the blog through the Twitter account. 

 During the fundraising week, I ate at several targeted restaurants to raise money for the UHCSC.  I bought a Battle of the Bands t-shirt and attended the Battle of the Bands event at 356.  I brought along a few friends and gave them stickers to wear for the event. 

I truly think have enjoyed the time that I’ve spent working and helping the Upstate Homeless Coalition this semester.  I feel so blessed to have been part of this awesome project.

Updates with Social Media Group

Even though the semester is winding down, our social media activity is picking up!  We’ve had and increased amount of views to the blog and more tweets and re-tweets on our Twitter account!  From reading what my classmates post on the UHCSC’s blog, I’ve learned new homeless issues that I hadn’t before.  I’ve also learned about different groups who are fighting homelessness along with the Upstate Homeless Coalition.

Dr. Novak sent us group evaluation forms yesterday to rank the effort of our group members.  It’s not going to be hard for me at all to give all of my group members 5’s (the best you can get) under every category.  My social media group has worked very effectively and efficiently.  We set our goals in the beginning of the semester, and I personally think that we’ve reached them.  We’ve introduced the Upstate Homeless Coalition to social media!  Even Linda has started participating and has written a comment on our blog.  I’m really proud of the social media group and all that we’ve accomplished.  I hope that the UHCSC will continue to use the social media networks that we’ve established.

Recent Activity for the Social Media Group

Last week was so hectic with tests and papers, that I didn’t have time to blog about my recent activity with the social media group.  Here’s what I’ve been up to lately:

-Fixed Twitter logo and put a background on the page.  Check it out!
Blogged results from the Bridesmaid’s Ball from answers from Linda.
Blogged about WYFF4 news story on homeless children in Greenville — cross posted from Leslie’s because her post was very informative.
-Tweeted multiple times.
-Sent Erin Sanders pics from the Bridesmaid’s Ball
-Contacted Celena Ferguson from the Bridesmaids Ball and asked her to answer questions regarding her experience with homelessness. — Celena is the one that spoke at the ball and thanked the UHCSC for their help.  Received her answers and will be blogging about them this week!

-Contacted Paul Bowers and explained our class goal.  Asked him to guest blog about his experiences and why he pretended to be homeless.  I have not yet heard back from Paul, but hope to be in contact with him this week.

I’m excited that our blog and Twitter are taking off like they have.  So far, we’ve had over 300 views on our blog!  We follow 27 people and 22 people follow us back.  I’m hoping that this week, we will get more followers and begin engaging with our current followers.

Real World PR- Social Media’s Place in Public Relations

The first session that I attended was “Social Media’s Place in Public Relations”.  The panel of speakers included Ashley Payne from the Georgia Aquarium, Stephen Brown from MS&L Worldwide, and Nick Ayres from The Home Depot.  This session allowed for all questions to be answered.  

How has your company handling social media a year ago?

Ashley explained that the Georgia Aquarium used to use all traditional public relations and now use Facebook, Twitter, and E-Marketing.  They’ve researched how people use social media.  Now, they give away free tickets and announce exciting events that are occurring at the aquarium.  Nick said that last year, Home Depot was involved with social media, but now they have a specific team that is specific for just social media.  Stephen explained that MS&L has realized what blogger relations is and is working on connecting with the correct audiences.  For example, they set up a Coca-Cola Free-Style and Osh Kosh Biggosh Facebook pages.

How do you use Twitter and Facebook for business?

Ashley said to make everything personal account private, look at what’s being said about your company, and if your company isn’t using social media, tell them why they should. 

How to balance friends and business on Twitter?

Nick said that just using it for talking to friends is not business-like.  If you add something special about yourself, it adds personality.  He also reminded us not to just re-tweet because you’re not really using your own thoughts.

What types of things do you tweet about?

Ashley said to tweet about very cool things (a celebrity comes to the aquarium) or new news (a new animal joins the aquarium).  

When employers look at possible new employees, do they follow the candidates or just take a glance at their Twitter page?

Ashley- glance at your page for personality.  Nick- Glance, but Googles the candidates first.

How do you pull in older audiences to social media?

Stephen said that it may or may not be helpful.  For example if one of your clients is a senior living facility, they will not be on Facebook right now.  Nick explained that PRos have to know traditional PR as well.

How do you monitor social media?

Stephen mentioned Radian 6 and said that you can measure it by the brand sentiment over time.  Nick said that he keeps a report of what people care about and what’s hot.  He counts the positive and negative tweets.  He uses YouTube views, Facebook Fans, Twitter Followers and pictures in blog posts and tweets in his social media reports.

How is social media organized in your company?

Ashley said that the Georgia Aquarium has integrated social media into all aspects of the company.  She explained that employees are the best advocates because they stick of for their organization without being told to do so.

Session three post next: “Seal the Deal: What You Need to Know to Land the Job”.

Who’s Calling the Shots?

I’ve never been in a class like my senior seminar class.  On Thursday, Dr. Novak stood at the front of the classroom, let us ask any questions that we wanted about factual information about the Upstate Homeless Coalition of South Carolina.  After a few questions had been asked, Dr. Novak walked to the back of the room and was silent for the rest of the class.  As a class, we wrote a mission statement, appointed class liaisons, organized ourselves into three main groups (fundraising, media, and social media), and decided on tasks and duties of each major group. 

We then broke up into the major groups.  I chose to be in the social media group along with Erin Sanders, Beckman Perry, Katie McKenzie, and Lauren Patterson.  We plan on helping update their Web site, start blogging for the UHCSC, help update the UHCSC Facebook page, and tweet under a username for the UHCSC.  After working on these social media networks on behalf of the UHCSC, we are also going to write a social media plan that the UHCSC can use after the semester is over. 

In our blogs, tweets, and Facebook posts, we want to connect with homeless people who use social media sites.  Part of our job this semester is going to do research to reach out to homeless people in the upstate who use the sites and let them know the services of the UHCSC. 

This class is by far the coolest class that I’ve ever taken at Clemson University.  It’s student run and we are getting to call the shots.

C.J. Spiller for Heisman- Good PR

Clemson University fans have a spirit for their school that is hard to hide.  As painted tiger paws on the road lead you into the town of Clemson, it is instantly easy to tell the color scheme of the esteemed university: ORANGE, ORANGE, ORANGE!  Orange shirts and orange overalls are worn by every fan.  Orange flags are hung from fans’ cars or houses.  Orange tents are stationed at every big tailgating spot and orange tiger paws are painted on the side of fans’ faces.  Often referred to as “The Clemson Family”, fans, students, and alumni are connected through their love of the Tigers.  One Tiger in particular is currently a contender for the biggest award in college football.     

C.J. Spiller is a nominee for the Heisman.  I understand that as a Clemson fan (and soon to be alum), I am bias, but I think that the Clemson family has given Spiller great PR over the past few months.  In July, 4,000 “C.J. Spiller for Heisman” posters were distributed at limited grocery stores, realtors, and quick-stops.  Other posters were sent to media outlets all over the country to promote the campaign.  Clemson’s Web site mentioned the poster campaign in an article about it on their site, along with The State , The Greenville News, The Anderson Independent and other well-known publications.  The posters were given out very quickly and pumped up fans.  It raised national awareness that C.J. Spiller was ready to fight for the big trophy. 

Clemson’s football coach, Dabo Swinney, has also been promoting Spiller for Heisman through student-wide e-mails.  When Dabo sends e-mails about game days, he also reminds the student body to vote for Spiller at this site.  He also mentions Spiller’s Heisman nomination in his press conferences.     

I think that the Clemson students and fans have also given Spiller good PR through social media.  There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t see a Facebook status or tweet that says something about the Spiller Heisman campaign.  Although I don’t frequently read TigerNet, the Clemson sports discussion board, my guy friends tell me that it is a subject that is constantly discussed.  YouTube videos of Spiller’s greatest plays are also posted by Tiger fans with reference to his Heisman nomination.   

With Clemson University, Dabo Swinney, and Clemson fans promoting C.J. Spiller, he has a very large number of supporters that are giving him great publicity.  This is great PR.  I really hope that come voting time, all of this publicity pays off and we’re see our very own tiger bringing Clemson its FIRST EVER HEISMAN TROPHY!

Employee Engagement and Social Media- Best Buy

After watching a YouTube video (below) about Best Buy and employee engagement with Jennifer Rock, director of employee communications for Best Buy, I realized the importance of employee engagement.  Jennifer explained that instead of just communicating AT your employees, now organizations are communicating WITH their employees.  With two-way communication, employees become more involved with the company because they can share their ideas, information, and problems.  Jennifer explained that Best Buy engages employees in many different ways.  Employees are engaging on discussion boards, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and are ranking and commenting on stories that Best Buy submits to the public.

To me, the most interesting part of Jennifer’s video interview was when she was asked how Best Buy deals with negativity from employees.  Jennifer said that when communicating with employees, the first things that usually come out of employees mouths (or fingers via the web) are complaints.  After working out the kinks and communicating on a regular basis, employees start contributing more constructive ideas.         

“‘One Store, One Team’ at Best Buy” shows how engaging employees and taking their feedback into consideration helped unite a Best Buy in Manchester Connecticut.