What have I learned this semester? A look back on BRAC, service learning, and a PR writing class.

This semester seemed like it just started yesterday. This was a semester of firsts- my first time blogging, being in a service learning class, and completing a campaign. There’s still a lot to do in this semester, but I would like to take this time to reflect on the semester.

First, I’d like to review what I’ve learned from BRAC. The have been a great organization to work with. One of the greatest benefits I’ve had from working with BRAC is seeing a nonprofit in action. It amazed me how imperative the public relations side of BRAC is to its success. BRAC needs successful informative campaigns to raise money for its services. Serving this nonprofit has been very rewarding. I know that all the hard work we’ve done will only help grow the community I love. I like knowing that I’m working for a greater cause than my own grade.

Secondly, I’ve learned a lot from this blog. I feel like I understand how to communicate better in writing from this course over a variety of mediums. Having never blogged before, I wasn’t expecting to do a great job. I expected to constantly have to revise my blogs due to wandering away from the topic. I feel more confident in my writing abilities and in my blogging abilities. I know I need to work on it more, but now I’m not afraid to try.

Finally, this class has really taken me out of my comfort zone. I’ve enjoyed trying new things, although it has been a little frightening. If you had asked me freshman year if I saw myself completing a campaign for a Baton Rouge organization, I would have thought you were joking. I’m very thankful for my fabulous team that has worked so hard with me with semester. Check out their blogs in my blogroll, and read their stories about this class.

I’d also like to direct you to my professor’s blog. If you’ve enjoyed hearing about my adventure into public relations, you will enjoy her thoughts on our class. She’s done a great job of leading us on this journey.

Thanks for following me this semester. I plan to keep posting to this blog, so keep checking back on my newest adventures in public relations. Also, follow me on Twitter for more reading and writing tips. I hope that I’ve been able to show you the other side of PR.

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Another life lesson from BRAC: being professional and ethical

This semester has opened my eyes to what the professional world is really like. Because I’m in a service-learning class, we are working with a real organization, creating a real campaign. That’s what makes this class so different.

In my other mass communication classes, I have a barrier between the outside world and me. Any assignment I turn in won’t go past the eyes of my professor, and if I fail to be professional or ethical, then the only punishment I will get is a lower grade.

In this course, however, I have an organization to represent- BRAC. BRAC is a local non-profit that has taught me a lot about ethical and professional behavior.

The first lesson I learned about being professional while working with BRAC was with my fellow group members. We learned to respect each other, especially one another’s time. That’s also true when we requested information from our contact at BRAC, Julie. Julie has helped us so much this semester with this project, and has really been an example of professionalism for us to follow. Communicating with many different people outside of the classroom has made us into professional communicators. I feel like I’ve become less childish in my communication, and am more focused on the message I’m trying to deliver.

The second lesson I’ve learned is about making ethical decisions while working for an organization. This is just as important as being professional. Ethical decisions come in many forms. This semester, I’ve had to figure out the ethics of everything from image copyrights on this blog to how to make sure I have the correct sources for my campaign. It may take more time to make sure that you are being ethical in your work, but it is definitely worth it.

I want to make it clear that being professional and ethical in public relations is hard work. Here is an article by PRSA about ethics in public relations. I’m also taking a public relations ethics course this semester, and I know that one unethical decision can mess up your career. Also, if you would like to read more about professionalism and ethics in public relations, I’d like to highly recommend that you read the PRSA Code of Ethics. This is a great guideline for public relations students to learn how to act professionally in and out of the classroom.

For more about me, check out my Twitter

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Why I want to do service-learning for the rest of my life (and how I learned from BRAC)

When I started college, I majored in forestry.

I have always loved trees and nature, and I felt passionately about environmental conservation. I still do in fact. But after my first class, I realized that I could better express my love of nature with words than with biology.

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Me and my 4-H forestry team at a West Virginia competition.

I’ve always planned on taking my passion for the environment and channeling it into work with an environmental non-profit. When I learned that I would be working with a non-profit organization this semester, I was beyond excited. Although BRAC is not an environmental organization, it has been a great experience to learn what non-profit work is actually like and how those organizations are run.

One of the best aspects of this service-learning course is that the work we do in the classroom is actually used in real life. Our client, BRAC, is not made up, and we are expected to deliver quality public relations material.

The pressure was strong at the beginning of the semester; we knew we had to deliver to a client who had high expectations. We are no longer just students in this class. I’ve had to learn how to adjust from just being a student to being part of a public relations team.

One of the first classes, we interviewed our contact with BRAC, and asked her a lot of questions about what BRAC does and how they are run. I never knew that I needed all this information about the organization, but it has come in handy when we are creating our planbooks or doing research.

I also didn’t know how much research goes into promoting a specific campaign. It’s a lot of hard work combined with ingenuity to be successful. I’m part of a great team, fortunately, and we are very excited about what we have created for BRAC.

One other thing I’ve learned about public relations from my experience with BRAC is that non-profit work is good for you and for the community. I’ve been able to learn a lot about public relations, and I’ve done a lot of work for BRAC in this class. The experience, knowledge, and writing samples I have now will help me get a job when I graduate from college. But I’ve not just been working for my own benefit; the work we’ve been doing in this class will help the Baton Rouge community. I love the feeling of giving back to this place that has given so much to me, and I enjoy learning through my service.

It’s the service-learning component that makes me want to work for a non-profit in the future. Although trees aren’t my specialty anymore, I know I can make a difference through my words. 

If you want to learn more about me and my adventure in public relations, follow me on Twitter.

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SCVNGR + BRAC: A match made in social media heaven

When you’re young and in love, you just want to tell everyone about how great your boyfriend/girlfriend is.

The same sort of thing happens when a great organization pairs up with a new medium of social media- it’s love all right!

Okay, I’m probably stretching the analogy too far, but you get the idea. The partnership between BRAC, the organization, and SCVNGR, the new medium of social media, is solid. Why, you ask?

You probably have these questions: Why would BRAC want to use social media? Why not more traditional forms of social media to convey their messages?

Unlike traditional forms of mass media, social media puts you in control of your own brand. No one is censoring or editing your message. You can put your content out there and reach people globaly- all in a matter of seconds.

That’s appealing to an organization like BRAC, who is trying to reach a wide audience to find prospective employees for Baton Rouge businesses. This type of communication is also inexpensive, which is good for non-profits.

So on to your second question- why not use traditional social media like Facebook? Why is BRAC using SCVNGR?

Like most couples, BRAC’s had some past relationships with other types of social media. BRAC does use Facebook and Twitter, but they are just friends now. It’s time for something new, and SCVNGR offers that to BRAC.

What sets SCVNGR apart from other forms of social media is the gamification aspect. I talked a little bit about this in my first blog post, but let me show you a little bit more.

Here’s a video of Kevin Werbach. He is a college professor who teaches a course about gamification, and he’s going to explain a little bit of the basics for you.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzihbzxC_6Y

Okay, so how does SCVNGR use this new technique? SCVNGR users go on treks to different areas and business and check in to unlock prizes. In real life, you’re traveling and doing something new, which is fun, and in the app you’re getting prizes, which is also fun. But the treks offered can be made by organizations like BRAC. In BRAC’s trek, they can control where they want people to go and what they want people to do. That’s where my firm, Bengal Communications, comes in. We are creating a trek for out of town fun; we want people to get out of Baton Rouge and explore what the surrounding parishes have to offer.

Interesting, huh?

So you can see, BRAC and SCVNGR make a great pair. My pr firm’s goal is to watch them ride off into the sunset, communicating to the masses along the way.

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And so it begins: A preview of this semester, SCVNGR, BRAC and service learning

Hello folks! I’m an excited and stressed out college student at LSU. My name is Julie Barrios, and this semester I’ll be documenting my crazy adventure in to the public relations world. I’m not sure how many horror stories or fairy tale endings will come out of this, but my goal is to learn and pass on my meager knowledge on to you.

And so, this is the beginning of my first blogging experience. I’m blogging for a mass communications class at LSU’s Manship School. Dr. Jensen Moore is acting as our brave leader this semester, and she’s already started to challenge us as students. For one, it’s a service-learning class.

What in the world is service learning?

I knew a little bit about service learning before this class due to my time as a 4-Her in high school. Back then, I learned a lot about chickens’ anatomy while I learned how to raise chickens. From that experience, I can tell you that service learning is basically a way to learn classroom concepts through hands-on experiences.

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Cute little chicks were the only thing I liked about raising chickens. Photo provided by : Fir0002/Flagstaffotos

Think about that for a second- I’m now in a service learning public relations class. This isn’t the how-to-show-your-prize-chicken service learning like I’m used to. In this class I’ll be working with an actual client and produce work for them.

Scary, right?

Yeah, it was pretty intimidating at first. But once we got started, I began to get really excited about the project.

We are working with this cool app called SCVNGR. It’s a gamification app, meaning that it takes normal, everyday activities and turns them into a game. You can earn prizes for playing these games (the app calls them treks) and get free stuff or discounts! I think it’s pretty cool.

I’m also enjoying working with our client, Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC). We are basically promoting their website called Creative Capitol of the South. I really like this website because it lists all these cool events that are going on in Baton Rouge. It really comes in handy.

My class is divided into groups, and each group creates a trek on SCVNGR and then creates materials to promote that trek. My group’s trek? We are working on “Get out of town”. That’s right, we are showing off all the cool places outside of Baton Rouge.

I’m excited about my group’s trek because I think it’s going to be awesome, and people are really going to use it. That’s my favorite part about this class- we may be students, but we are already creating things that people in the real world will use and see.

This class makes me incredibly nervous and really excited at the same time. I hope you enjoy reading about my crazy adventure into the world of PR, and maybe we can learn a few things together.

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