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.

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.

Updates with Social Media Group

Since we’ve started blogging and tweeting for the Upstate Homeless Coalition, we’ve been showing improvement.  So far, we’ve had over 170 views to the UHCSC blog and we have 35 tweets and almost 20 followers on the UHCSC twitter account.

Today, I added the new logo as the background for the UHCSC twitter page.  Check it out and let me know how you think it looks!  I’m also working with our web site designer, Katie McKenzie on creating a square icon to fit into the UHCSC’s Twitter avatar.  Beckman Perry has been working on our blog design and it also looks great.  We’re hoping to gain more followers and obtain more page views for our blog.

Social Media Group’s Plans

A couple of weeks ago, the social media group met to establish our main goal and how we were going to reach that goal. 

Our Goal: To bring the UHCSC up to date using social media tools, enabling them to reach a new audience.  
We can accomplish our goal using Facebook, Twitter, a blog, and possibly YouTube.
Facebook: Request a different logo, photos, an event calendar from Linda.  Everyone in class needs to join fan page.  

Blog: Plan to spotlight someone each week (1 post); Beckman in charge of designing blog; Form a list of blog ideas.  Madison, Beckman, and Lauren are deciding 1st blog post.

We also came up with a list of blog ideas:

-Spotlighting people
-Inside view from employee
-Contact board members
-Find stories on homelessness throughout the country–link
-Video Clips
-Upload pictures
-Press Releases 
-Guest Writers 
-Volunteer Group-what they experienced, what they did 

Website: See what they have and how it’s organized, and reorganize it.  Make a layout, make it more cohesive.  Katie to meet with Reid and create graphic for class to utilize.

Twitter: Lauren and Madison will be in charge of Tweeting.  Aim to do one tweet a day (school week).  Customize account.  Get anyone who is on Twitter in our class to follow account.

YouTube: Not main focus, but may upload videos throughout semester.

**Important to have class get active on Facebook and Twitter.

Hopefully we will accomplish our goal by the end of the semester!!


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”.


The social media group has created a blog, a twitter, and is helping with the Upstate Homeless Coalition’s Facebook Fan Page.

The upstate Homeless Coalition of South Carolina’s BLOG is here.

The Upstate Homeless Coalition of South Carolina’s TWITTER is here.

The Upstate Homeless Coalition of South Carolina’s FACEBOOK is here.

The Upstate Homeless Coalition of South Carolina’s WEB SITE is here.

I hope that you all will start linking to the UHCSC’s blog, following UHCSC on Twitter, and becoming a fan of the UHCSC on Facebook.

Homeless Bloggers and Tweeps

Before we start blogging and twittering, Beckman and I decided it would be helpful to look up bloggers and tweeps who are homeless.  I wanted to share this database that lists some homeless bloggers and tweeps.

I looked into Kevin Barbieux’s story, blog posts, and tweets.  He sounds like an interesting man and I would love to know more about his story. 

The Homeless Guy (blog) @thehomelessguy (twitter)- Kevin Barbieux from Nashville, TN is chronically homeless.  He visits the library and museums in Nashville and blogs about his story and experiences.

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.

Clemson Bowl Game and Twitter Talk

I set my mom up with a Twitter account.  She LOVES it.  I’ve introduced her to the logistics of the social media network and taught her how to tweet, @ Twitterers, and direct message people.  At our annual Christmas Eve dinner at our neighbor’s house, I know that my mom felt hip because when the subject of Twitter arose, she piped in like a pro.

Clemson played in the Music City bowl game last night against Kentucky (AND WON).  I invited my two tiger fan friends, Katy and Jessie from Columbia to watch the game with all of the Greenville Tiger fans.  Eleven of us headed to a local sports bar and hung around until half-time.  At half, we headed home and watched the rest of the game at my house along with my parents.  During a break in the game, Twitter became a topic of discussion.  

My friend Katy tweets regularly.  She’s learned the in’s and out’s of Twitter and appreciates how it keeps her up to date on news, celebrities, and her friends.  Jessie, on the other hand, will have nothing to do with Twitter.  She refuses to try it because she doesn’t think that she has anything interesting to say.  

 Jessie also said that she fears in the future that with all of the social networking that goes on online, our children won’t have the social skills that generations before them developed through face-to-face contact.  While my mom and I agreed, we also argued that social networks are how a lot of people are staying connected and getting informed.  Whether the information is national news (like the terrorist on the Detroit flight), celebrity news (like Kourtney Kardashian having her baby), or amiable news (like who of my friends are heading to happy hour), I feel informed quickly and precisely.  I personally feel that if you refuse to join the social media conversation, you’re going to miss out on information that others know simply because they have set up a free account.  You may even get left in the dust (like the Kentucky Wildcats last night :-)). 

There are both pros and cons to the growing popularity of social networks.  I would love to hear your thoughts!

Some of our group watching the Music City Bowl game!

Tide Loads of Hope- Good PR

After seeing a commercial about Loads of Hope by Tide, I decided to research a little further.  I quickly found out that Tide trucks with built-in washers and dryers drive to places that have recently been hit with a disaster.   The trucks let disaster victims do loads of laundry for free.  These energy-efficient machines can clean 300 loads of laundry every day.  Tide promotes Loads of Hope through its Web site, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and has multiple videos on YouTube. 

The videos are positive testimonials of people who have used Tide’s services and machines.  They list places the Tide trucks have visited as well as how many loads were completed and how many families were helped.  Below is an example of one of the YouTube video testimonials:

The Tide brand is looking like saints to the disaster victims.  When disasters occur, I usually hear about organizations donating money to help out the victims.  By helping with a task that seems so trivial, Tide is helping victims as well as helping themselves gain great publicity.