Olympia Creative reflects on public relations campaign with Special Olympics Louisiana Capital Area

This blog was written by Aysha Jones, writing director for Olympia Creative. The video blog includes the entire Olympia Creative team. 

This semester has been a learning experience for every team member of Olympia Creative. We have had a wonderful time working with Special Olympics Louisiana – Capital Area.

Our entire team has been working hard to encourage each other and manage our colorful personalities. We’ve definitely used our existing skills, and we’ve learned so much from the course, from our client and from one another.

So, to wrap up this semester, here’s what we’ve learned:

Social responsibility

Earlier in the semester we touched on the importance of not only serving our client, but also serving our client’s community. Our client and its community have a symbiotic relationship. It’s important for us to convey how Capital Area can serve the community. The way we chose to do that this semester is our “Unified in Victory” campaign. We wanted to show Capital Area and its athletes as allies of the community.

Planning

The team at Olympia Creative has learned that planning is an integral part of success. Public relations plans should be detailed, but they should also be fluid. Planning a campaign with goals, objectives, strategies and tactics helps us to give our client the best material, but it also helps us to create contingencies for different scenarios. To be a better planner, I have learned to do the research. Research will provide you with the information to improve the way you communicate to the public and to the client.

Client Relations

It is so important to be clear when coordinating with your client. Keeping them in the loop is so important for a good working relationship and for the success of your campaign. Coming to your client with research to back up your ideas will help them be more open to your ideas for the campaign. It is also important to come up with samples for them to view. Creating tangibility from an idea helps to drive your purpose home. Good client relations also allow you to understand its purpose and its public more comprehensively.

Presentation

After you’ve done all this work, it is crucial to present your work in a clear and concise way. You want to keep the attention of your client and your audience while also conveying the important information. Make your work appealing. Well-designed presentations make information easier to digest. Use infographics to keep attention, while also conveying important information. We’ve decided to show our present the success of our campaign to our client with infographics.

To hear a recap of the semester from the members of Olympia Creative, check out our video.

Keep up with Capital Area on Facebook. Keep up with the team member of Olympia Creative by checking out our online portfolios (Katy, Taylor, Allison, Alexa, Dimitri and Aysha).

Professionalism and ethics: How Olympia is practicing through its work with Capital Area Special Olympics

Photo supplied by poster.
Photo supplied by poster.

This blog was written by Taylor Trahan, design director for Olympia Creative

Miriam Webster’s defines professionalism as “the skills, good judgment, and polite behavior that is expected from a person who is trained to do a job well.”

When discussing professionalism and ethics in the public relations industry, it is important to remember that you can’t have one without the other. When the two walk hand in hand, they provide the mold for how PR professionals should conduct themselves on a daily basis and in sticky situations.

Thankfully, the public relations field is dominated by type A personalities who are incredibly thorough and precise. A number of those minds came together to create the PRSA Code of Ethics. This guide has core values and practices accompanied by real world examples to make sure that PR pros understand the attitudes and competencies expected of them.

Professionalism

When considering Olympia Creative’s experience with Capital Area Special Olympics (CASOL), one of the more prevalent professional values that come to mind is expertise. This final course is a Service-Learning Course as deemed by Louisiana State University. Even while we are still in our role as students, we are working with real world clients to produce what are, hopefully, real world results. Therefore we have to keep the following thought at the forefront of our minds: we may not be experts in the field but our clients trust us to be experts for them. Through conducting research, developing professionally and staying on top of our PR education we are able to provide the expertise our client was searching for when CASOL enrolled for participation in this course. Many of the clients do not have a communications role or department, which is why CASOL has chosen this path. Handling an organization’s communication efforts may seem a daunting task for students, but various professors and industry professionals have guided us along the way.

Ethics

PRSA is constantly releasing advisories and updates to its existing publications. In February of 2011 it released an Ethical Standards Advisory on the ethical use of interns. This is highly relevant to our campaign, as we are currently developing an internship position for CASOL. This document provides the legal and ethical standards regarding unpaid internships as well as best practices. Defined by the Department of Labor an internships is a “white-collar educational opportunity, mostly applicable to professional or executive employees, and it serves as a gateway to future jobs.” Bottom line, if the intern is to receive no pay then the experience must be valuable to their career. This is something we have absolutely kept in mind when developing our intern guidebook. When thinking of what the intern would need to do, we used a two-fold process. First, what does CASOL need? Second, what is reasonable and valuable to a communications intern? Tasks that met both criteria were then incorporated into our internship guidebook. We are confident that we have developed an ethical internship position for a deserving student and are excited to help CASOL fill that role.

While these are just two specific instances of our experience, we are undoubtedly learning more each day. Conducting ourselves as representatives of CASOL, communicating effectively with CASOL officials and maintaining the integrity of such an organization are all ways in which we are learning real world practices of professionalism and ethics.

Check out CASOL’s Facebook to see photos from our event this past weekend and keep up with CASOL.

How Capital Area Special Olympics and other organizations can evaluate a campaign

Written by Alexa Thibodeaux, research director for Olympia Creative

Alexa
Photo courtesy of Taylor Trahan Photography

It’s fairly difficult to measure the success of a public relations campaign, but there is an array of tested ways of doing so.

Some clients want to evaluate their investment in PR against the number of leads it generates. This is reasonable but actually rather impractical. The problem is other factors come into play when it comes to lead generation, never just PR on its own.

Other clients, like Capital Area Special Olympics (CASOL), will look to evaluate their investment in PR on the amount of media coverage obtained in specific publications. The objective of all public relations efforts is to change attitudes and behavior of specific (target) audiences over a period of time. Media coverage is simply a means to an end. If coverage had no measurable impact on the people you are really trying to reach, then it is essentially useless. Therefore, measuring coverage on its own is not the safest way of assessing the value of a public relations campaign.

Another issue is the fact that the world has gone digital. Today’s media make up an elaborate web of traditional outlets (print, radio and TV) and social media outlets (Facebook, Twitter, etc.). Social media is dynamic and searchable in a way that was unimaginable just a few years ago. It is an effective and accessible way for organizations to interact with audiences, and organizations can evaluate feedback on social media easily and accurately. CASOL can measure campaign success via social media, but it’s not the only way to do so.

The best way to assess the value of a campaign is through a combination of measures: volume of coverage, feedback through social media, and impact on website hits. Periodic research on changing attitudes, understanding or behavior within the target audience is also effective.

No matter the approach, emphasis needs to focus firmly on the outcome. When an organization hires a PR agency or outsourced professional, it is making a significant investment in raising its profile in the public eye. An organization needs see a return on investment (ROI) for most (if not all) of its efforts. Using evaluation techniques allows an organization to better understand its tactics and its publics. Olympia Creative believes that all clients should be able to see value and a demonstrable return on their investment in PR.

With that being said, public relations is not an exact science, but an effective evaluation system can give the client a solid framework for future campaigns, no matter how it decides to measure them.

Don’t forget to check out Capital Area Special Olympics Louisiana on Facebook for updates on their events and athletes.

Tactics: Can’t Say No to CASOL

Written by Dimitri Skoumpourdis, strategy director for Olympia Creative

When completing a campaign, all agencies must create its goals, objectives and then its tactics. To best serve our client Capital Area Special Olympics, Olympia Creative put together tactics to help foster awareness, acceptance and action. By implementing these tactics, Olympia Creative hopes to gain a larger presence within the intellectually disabled community within Baton Rouge. We also want to increase CASOL’s participants. Ultimately, we want to increase the amount of donations that come CASOL’s way.

After completing our research and building a relationship with our contacts at CASOL, we have a better understanding of its needs and of its core values. CASOL wants more people in the community to understand its program. Not only does it want to help the community by catering toward intellectual disabilities, but it also wants to increase tolerance and acceptance with the rest of the community. CASOL seeks to create an identity centered around acceptance and inclusion and tactics are the way to achieve this goal.

So how do we get CASOL’s name out there?

Flier created by Taylor Trahan, design director for Olympia Creative
Flier created by Taylor Trahan, design director for Olympia Creative

First, we need to engage the audience we already have. One of the main tactics we have that fosters existing relationships is our bring-a-buddy event, Camp CASOL. The other is a newsletter. Bringing a buddy allows CASOL to spread its message to new people, and it also fosters tolerance and acceptance for CASOL and the intellectually disabled community. We’ve revamped CASOL’s newsletter to have small features and updates about the athletes, which creates intrigue and participation within the organization.

With the constantly changing world of public relations, it becomes very important to have an individual who is well versed in several areas of communication. Since CASOL is currently lacking in this area, Olympia Creative will create an internship guidebook. This guidebook is designed to lay out the basics of handling the CASOL PR efforts. The book will touch on the importance of engaging social media posts as well as how to incorporate individual stories in the CASOL newsletter. By telling the stories of individual athletes, that feeling of inclusion among the competitors, volunteers and sponsors is being highlighted. Additionally, the book will highlight how we were able to get an online news story and ways to continue that coverage in the future. One more thing the internship guidebook will cover is how to approach corporate sponsors about acquiring donations. The book will include a benefit statement that aims to make companies feel like they cannot say no to CASOL.

We look forward to putting the finishing touches on these tactics to allow CASOL to flourish. If you want more information about CASOL, find it on Facebook!

“United in Victory”: The Strategy Powering Capital Area Special Olympics

Photo courtesy of Taylor Trahan Photography.
Photo courtesy of Taylor Trahan Photography.

Written by Dimitri Skoumpourdis, strategy director for Olympia Creative

Michael Eugene Porter, the Bishop William Lawrence University Professor at the Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness at the Harvard Business School, once said, “[s]trategy is about making choices, trade-offs; it’s about deliberately choosing to be different.” While Porter’s area of expertise is in the area of economic development of nations, states and regions, the concept of deliberately choosing to be different directly applies to the world of nonprofit public relations. Every local community has a wide variety of organizations that provide admirable and necessary services. That said, variety makes it is easy for potential volunteers and sponsors to overlook the unique characteristics of each organization. The key for a nonprofit to successfully distinguish itself from other similar entities lies in creating an effective strategic message plan that highlights unique benefits only that organization can provide.

The backbone of defining these benefits is research. The only way to accurately gauge which aspects of a nonprofit organization’s services bring the most positive change to a community is to directly ask the target audience. Research and strategy go hand in hand. Conducting research provides a window into the audience and translating that data into a strategic message can make or break a campaign. As an agency works toward building its client’s message through research, it can begin defining several aspects of the campaign. An analysis of product features and benefits, target audience demographics and psychographics and competitors leads to a thorough understanding of which product benefits most apply to the desired target audience.

When it comes to crafting a public relations strategic message, nonprofit organizations are in a unique position to capitalize on the emotional nature of its product. Specifically, Capital Area Special Olympics is fortunate to also be associated with the fun and excitement of athletic competition. Olympia Creative is aiming to heighten the emotions brought forward by this competition. People love watching sports and Special Olympics combines that excitement with the inspiring stories of countless athletes overcoming their disabilities to bask in the glory of victory. This idea suggests that involvement in Special Olympics not only benefits the athletes directly, but those involved in the process.

Whether you are an athlete, a volunteer or a sponsor, Capital Area Special Olympics brings a special sense of emotional acceptance and belonging. In an effort to highlight the idea of inclusion and mutual benefit, Olympia Creative has coined the phrase “United in Victory” as the tagline of our strategic message for Special Olympics. We hope that athletes, volunteers and sponsors alike will see this message and realize that winning a gold, silver or bronze medal is not the only way one can experience the joy of victory with Capital Area Special Olympics. Learn more about CASOL on Facebook.

How we use primary and secondary research to gauge knowledge, behaviors and attitudes about Capital Area Special Olympics

Written by Alexa Thibodeaux, research director for Olympia Creative

Alexa
Photo courtesy of Taylor Trahan Photography

Any strategic public relations plan for a nonprofit involves conducting some research. Public relations professionals may give recommendations about research, but the board ultimately needs to understand the importance of primary and secondary research in an overall PR strategic plan. Olympia Creative uses research to show Capital Area Special Olympics (CASOL) how the public sees the organization and how it will respond to events and communications.

Here is a list of reasons why Capital Area Special Olympics should use research as an integral part of its PR strategy:

Research = unbiased information

If conducted properly, research reduces or completely eliminates researcher bias and gives the leaders of a nonprofit or organization a snapshot of how the target public perceives the organization. If CASOL only relied on its opinions of how the public viewed the organization, its strategies for growth and improvement would not necessarily be catered to its target public. Since our goal is to increase awareness and acceptance of CASOL and the services it offers, understanding how the Baton Rouge community sees the organization is important.

Research highlights strengths and weaknesses

Research for a public relations plan should include an assessment of the nonprofit or the organization itself. CASOL can use this research to determine how far its come in achieving its mission. Through those results, CASOL can also establish what the board needs to work on in order to be successful in the future. Research can also supply information about any liabilities or possible internal/external threats that could harm CASOL or its PR plan. This allows the PR team and board members to develop a plan that outlines how to manage these risks in a proactive way.

Messaging and communications

Primary and secondary research gives CASOL valuable information about how the organization should craft all outgoing communication to parents and guardians, participants and potential sponsors. The research provides useful feedback about what matters most to the target public, how the public identifies with the organization and which platforms CASOL should utilize in its public relations messaging. Thorough research on the groups CASOL interacts with also provides a list of the platforms these groups use. This lets CASOL know the most effective methods of delivering its message.

So, how’d we do?

After a strategic plan is formulated and put in place, additional research after an event or campaign gives our client feedback on the actual public relations plan. This research allows CASOL to determine if any objectives from the public relations plan were achieved and to what degree. It is important for CASOL to know how well it achieved its objectives. This can ultimately help our client decide whether to continue with, make adjustments to or abandon the plan and draft something completely different.

How Olympia Creative is using PR writing skills to help Capital Area Special Olympics convey its message

Photo courtesy of Taylor Trahan Photography.
Photo courtesy of Taylor Trahan Photography.

Written by Aysha Jones, writing director for Olympia Creative. 

Writing surrounds public relations. Writing skills are one of the most important components of public relations and mass media education. Just ask anyone in the Manship School. By the time a student makes is to Media Writing, they are taught that the AP Stylebook is the mass media bible.

PR writing goes beyond Oxford commas and exclamation point usage. Public relations writing is responsible for creating messages for our client’s audience(s). It’s not always easy. Writer’s block has hit everyone a time or two.

The best messages are stories. No one will tell you more about the importance of storytelling than Professor Josh Grimm. They tell you why our client does what they do. And it makes the experience relevant and relatable to the target audience.

During this campaign, Olympia Creative has the opportunity to hone in on our writing skills by highlighting the athletes of Capital Area Special Olympics. From just speaking to the staff at CASOL, the entire Olympia Creative team has been inspired, in one way or another, by a CASOL athlete. By telling the athlete’s stories, we can really get the public to be more connected and involved with the organization. These stories are something that the athletes, the families, the CASOL staff and the public can be proud of. Telling a story gives the public a face and an experience to associate with Special Olympics.

In addition to telling you why, PR writing is also responsible for telling the audience who, what, when, where and how, which is especially difficult when dealing with concise writing. In addition to the AP Stylebook, the inverted pyramid is so important to keeping the best communication relationship with the media, as well as with the public.

Concise and informative writing is so important to public relations. Public relations writers can write anything from a traditional news release to a tweet. In recent years social media has become more valued, but never knock the traditional news release. (Check out how Olympia Creative’s news release landed CASOL on WBRZ.) But regardless of the medium we, as public relations writers, must get the information out in a clear, concise and informative way. A good writer will consider all the questions that someone might have while crafting the message. Then, we should answer those questions in our deliverables. Our audiences should never be left with questions.

Once you’ve gotten past your writer’s block, once you’ve answered all of the questions and once you’ve told your story, you must edit your work. Edit and re-edit your work. Sometimes the best way to edit is to look at it with fresh eyes. The eyes don’t have to be yours. However, if you are using your own eyes put the piece of writing down and revisit it later.


Learn more about CASOL on Facebook.