Reflecting on our service-learning partnership with Fellowship Church: What we learned as public relations seniors

By: Jordan Churchman

(Red Stick PR members reflecting on the semester. Video courtesy of Red Stick PR).

As the semester comes to an end Red Stick PR members reflect on what we have accomplished and the knowledge we have gained. One of the most important aspects of our campaigns class this semester was the service-learning component. Through this component, we were able to work directly with our client, Fellowship Church, to facilitate its needs and help further its personal goals.

Louisiana State University’s Center for Community Engagement, Learning, and Leadership, CCELL, offers students and faculty a way to engage in service-learning and community-engaged research. We believe that service-learning is one of the best tools that students can utilize while at LSU. It allowed us to gain accountability, timeliness, professionalism and integrity. When working with a real client responsibilities become a reality.

This past weekend, Fellowship Church South Ascension and Red Stick PR held “Planting Our Appreciation,” a teacher appreciation event centered on the theme of Earth Day, which occurred the next day. The members of our agency planned and organized every aspect of the event. With event planning there are always unexpected hurdles that require people to think outside of the box.

One hurdle we came across was our client’s weak online presence. In the digital age one of the most effective ways to market an event is online through social media sites, website and blogs. Fellowship Church South Ascension shares a website and Facebook page with the main Fellowship Church campus in Prairieville, La. The church has a Twitter account, but Fellowship Church has only posted six tweets since it was created on August 22, 2012. To compensate for this weak online presence Red Stick PR and our client, Todd Blount, posted about the event on our personal Facebook pages, the church Facebook page, the church website, emailed invitations to local schools, delivered fliers to those schools and sent out press releases to the following local media:

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(“Planting Our Appreciation” news release. Photo courtesy of Red Stick PR)

Journalist Rich Brooks offers more helpful event promotion tips in his article “12 Ways to Market Your Event with Social Media.” In the article Brooks said “Whether you’re planning a real-world event (like a conference, tweetup or political gathering) or a virtual event (like a webinar or teleclass), social media can be an inexpensive, cost-effective way to build buzz, fill seats and turn a one-off gathering into a recurring event.” One of the more obvious but sometimes forgotten tips is to use a hashtag. Coming up with a unique hashtag specific to an event can help track the conversation and build event awareness. Because Fellowship Church’s Twitter has not built up a following yet this idea could not be utilized. Red Stick PR is working on a social media plan to help our client utilize its online profiles in a more efficient and engaging way.

Another hurdle we came across was The Midterm cancelling its live performance at the event three days before it was scheduled. Instead of panicking we worked with Todd to secure a backup source of music to keep attendees entertained. We ended up hooking up an iPod to some speakers and played music throughout the entire event. It ended up working out and taught us to be resilient.

As you can see in the video Fellowship Church South Ascension was pleased with the outcome of the event. Community members who were not a part of the church attended and got some great information about the church and its mission. “Planting Our Appreciation” was FCSA’s most successful event they have put on since breaking away from the large, main campus. We are very proud of the outcome, and we could not have done it without working so closely together as an agency and with our client.

One of our course learning outcomes is to create a campaign plan book that reflects mastery of the public relations process. We are currently in the process of putting our campaign book together. We have spent the past week writing and revising drafts for the book and will continue this process.

Another course learning outcome is to develop and refine a hard copy and digital portfolio. Each group member is currently in the process of creating her own portfolio. We are using Weebly to create our digital portfolios. These portfolios will highlight the professional work we have created and contributed to while we were students at the LSU Manship School of Mass Communication. These portfolios will help us stand out as individuals when we start applying for jobs and receiving interviews.

For more information on Fellowship Church or to monitor its progress via other sources, check out the website or Facebook. For more information on me, please check out my LinkedIn profile account. Thanks for reading.

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Public relations, communication and group work: How these components will help make Fellowship Church’s event a reality

By: Kelsey Hyde

With four days left until “Planting Our Appreciation” Red Stick PR agency members are working on the final details of our event. Jordan Churchman, Red Stick PR’s account liaison, and I took a little road trip to Jambalaya Park in Gonzales, La. I sketched out where the tables for the school supply drive, food, desserts and crafts will be located for the event. Picture live music provided by The Midterm playing under the pavilion in the picture below with families eating on the steps.

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(Jambalaya Park. Photo courtesy of Jordan Churchman).

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was really great to visit the venue because we could see all of our ideas starting to come to life. After visiting Jambalaya Park we ventured to Office Depot to follow up on school supply donations. We received three staplers, two calculators, four file folders and an assortment of binder tabs. This is just the beginning though. At the event guests will have the opportunity to enter their name into a raffle for every school supply item they bring to donate.

In addition Red Stick PR has put a lot of effort into calling local restaurants for donations for prizes and inviting special guests from the Ascension Parish school board. We haven’t had any luck so far, but we look forward to hosting teachers from the South Ascension Parish area, including:

  • River Parishes Community College
  • East Ascension High
  • St Amant High
  • Gonzales Middle
  • St Amant Middle
  • Gonzales Primary
  • Pecan Grove Primary
  • Carver Primary
  • St Amant Primary
  • Sorrento Primary

Fellowship Church is helping us spread the word by posting about the event on its Facebook account. The church also took our suggestion to create a Facebook event. In one post Fellowship Church asks people to “share this event with any teachers you know and invite them to join us Sunday as we celebrate the investment they are making in the lives of our community’s kids.”

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(Fellowship Church Facebook post. Photo courtesy of Fellowship Church).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To ease the burden on the church for donations we decided to get our sororities involved. Members of the Gamma Zeta chapter of Delta Gamma are graciously bringing drinks and items for children to make dessert dirt cups including chocolate pudding, Oreos and gummy worms. The Delta Kappa chapter of Kappa Alpha Theta is kindly donating plastic utensils, cups and plates.

One of the course objectives from our class this semester is to establish and maintain positive client relationships and work as part of a public relations team. Todd Blount, Fellowship Church South Ascension’s lead pastor, has been wonderful to work with. He has constantly maintained communication with Red Stick PR and has quickly approved any deliverables we have sent him. The members of Red Stick PR have all been working together to make this event a success. We are capitalizing on each member’s strengths to make sure everything gets done as efficiently as possible. Our team works well together, which has made this semester great.

The main focus for the rest of the week is to promoting. Other mini projects include painting a welcome banner, printing comment cards, following up with restaurants for prizes, reminding volunteers of their roles, following up with the caterer and sorting supplies for the tables. The forecast for Sunday, April 21, 2013, is sunny, but we have tents provided by Fellowship Church members as a backup plan. Red Stick PR is very excited for this weekend. Check back next week to read about how the event went.

For more information on Fellowship Church or to monitor its progress via other sources, check out the website or Facebook. For more information on me, please check out my LinkedIn profile account. Thanks for reading.

Public relations, creativity and writing: How these components will help Fellowship Church with “Planting Our Appreciation”

By Haleigh Garcia

With “Planting Our Appreciation” being held in two weeks Red Stick PR has been following the event plan memo timeline to ensure that the event will run smoothly. Kyleigh Quiroga, Red Stick PR’s writing director, has drafted a donation letter that will be sent to local organizations to encourage them to participate in the teacher appreciation event. As our strategy director I have also written a news release that will be sent to the media contacts on our media list that was created by Sydney Stevens, our research director. We have not seen a boilerplate on any of Fellowship Church’s previous promotional materials, so I have created one that the church can use. “Fellowship Church strives to connect the community with Jesus Christ and to love, grow, serve and go” is a reflection of the church’s mission and will work well as the boilerplate for our news release.

Our event plan memo also states that two weeks before the event we should be creating and distributing invitations for “Planting Our Appreciation.” The fliers created by Julia McGowen, Red Stick PR’s design director, should also be distributed within Fellowship Church and around South Ascension Parish. These fliers will also need to be distributed to the local schools because the focus of the event is celebrating the educators of South Ascension Parish.

POA Flier(The “Planting Our Appreciation” flier. Photo courtesy of Red Stick PR).

On the list of public relations professional values and competencies (found in our class syllabus) we have primarily been critically evaluating our own work and the work of other group members. We create drafts of all of our promotional materials. We proof each draft ourselves, and then we have the remaining group members look at it and offer their input. This process allows us to rely on each group member’s strengths to make our campaign the best it can be.

Red Stick PR and Fellowship Church had talked about developing a social media plan that the church can use year round. Fellowship Church is extremely active on its Facebook page and posts regularly. The church also uses the page as a two-way model of communication and tries to start conversations. Because Fellowship Church is hosting “Planting Our Appreciation” the event needs to be promoted on its dominant social network. Fellowship Church has recently deleted its Twitter page. This was probably due to members of Fellowship Church’s staff not knowing how to properly utilize this tool. As an agency, with the input of Fellowship Church, we can decide if a Twitter page would be necessary to help expand Fellowship Church’s brand.

This week we need to purchase supplies for our crafts and face-painting stations. We also need to create a template for our comment cards. These comment cards will be distributed to guests at the event and will help the agency during the evaluation process. By distributing these comment cards we will be able to analyze whether Fellowship Church has increased its visibility during our campaign.

For more information on Fellowship Church or to monitor its progress via other sources, check out the website or Facebook. For more information on me, check out my Twitter (@Hay_Garcia) account. Thanks for reading.

Bringing it all together for Fellowship Church: Executing a public relations campaign by keeping the big picture in mind

By Julia McGowen

Now that we are in the homestretch of the semester we have been focusing bringing our plans for Fellowship Church to life. One of the ways we’ve done this is by following the steps in the public relations process (we are using the RACE model). Following the PR process has helped us map out a solution that can meet Fellowship Church’s needs. We have begun to execute our campaign plans based on our research findings, audience analysis, client interviews and strategic message planner by executing our event plan and creating deliverables that will increase community awareness and build public trust among South Ascension Parish citizens for Fellowship Church.

We are currently finalizing the final details of our upcoming teacher appreciation event, which will be held at Jambalaya Park in Gonzales on Sunday, April 21. I have been coming up with rough drafts of flier, invitations and other deliverables we will use to promote and supplement the event. Kelsey Hyde, our event director, had an incredibly creative idea of using seed packages as invitations to go along with Fellowship Church’s motto of “connecting every person to love, grow, serve and go.” The seed packets also convey a springtime theme, which is appropriate because our event is taking place on Earth Day.

I have come up a few ideas for spring themed promotional materials using Adobe Illustrator and InDesign. My designs reflect the seed package idea. I have incorporated the word “grow” and springtime pastels while maintaining a teacher-friendly appeal. These materials will go out to members of Fellowship Church and teachers in the schools surrounding Fellowship’s South Ascension campus. We will finalize the list of schools before we go on spring break next week. We will also set a schedule that dictates when all materials need to be printed and distributed. A plan of action for all other promotional efforts we will use for our event, including news releases and digital media efforts, will also be utilized.

We have also been in the drafting stages of writing a crisis communication and a social media plan for the church. At our initial client meeting Todd Blount expressed a special interest in learning more about social media and how the church could use it to not only spread the word about the new campus but also to make deeper connections with members of their current congregation. We plan to make a comprehensive plan for the organization that will educate and instruct it on the benefits of using social media and the best practices for achieving its goals.

While working on these plans we have being looking back at our research and strategic message planner to ensure we are aligning our execution with the correct audience. This is also done to make sure we are using the correct messages and channels to reach our audience, which is crucial when carrying out a successful campaign (this can sometimes be forgotten once execution begins). We have also made sure to keep all of our materials and messages consistent throughout the campaign to build Fellowship Church’s brand.

For more information on Fellowship Church or to follow its progress via other sources, check out the website or Facebook. For more information about me, visit my personal website or find me on Twitter (@JuliaMcGowen).
Thanks for reading.

Event planning and strong community ties: Why these public relations components matter for Fellowship Church

By Kyleigh Quiroga

On Friday, March 8, 2013, Red Stick PR had our second meeting of the semester with Todd Blount, the campus pastor at Fellowship Church South Ascension. The primary focus of the meeting was discussing our teacher appreciation event that we will be hosting on Sunday, April 21, 2013, at Jambalaya Park in Gonzales.

We brought a copy of our event plan memo to the meeting so we could make revisions with our client. We decided to change the time of our event to make it easier for members of Fellowship Church to participate. We also made a list of potential people who can provide music for our event. After the meeting we had new ideas and a list of things to start working on to promote the event, which is only a few weeks away.

One component of service-learning courses is to foster an understanding of social issues in the community. We are hosting an event to give back to the teachers of Ascension Parish. This is Fellowship Church’s way of telling the teachers thank you for everything they do for students and the community. Fellowship Church’s theme is love, grow, serve and go. These are things teachers do every day. Teachers are responsible for forming and educating their students, which has a large impact on the local community. Fellowship Church wants to take this day to show teachers how much they are valued in this community.

One component of our event is a school supply drive. We are going to create a list of supplies needed by local schools in Ascension Parish. All donations will be given directly to schools in need. There are children at these schools who don’t have the basic school supplies everyone tends to take for granted. My mom is teacher, and every summer I help her organize and arrange the school supplies her students bring. I also know that the school supplies students bring in at the beginning of the year do not last until May. I’m sure it’s really difficult for some of these children to learn when they are lacking the basic supplies they need. This is a small way we feel we can make a difference in the lives of children.

This course is also communication-intensive. One of the components of a communication-intensive course is the use of draft-feedback-revision process for learning. We have created a research report, a strategic message planner and an event plan memo. We have received feedback on all of these pieces and are currently in the process of making the necessary revisions to the work. Once we have completed the necessary revisions we will start putting our campaign book together, which is really exciting.

For more information on Fellowship Church or to follow its progress via other sources, check out the website or Facebook. For more information on me, check out my Twitter (@KyleighNicole_) or my blog. Thanks for reading.

Communication and relationships: Why these are important skills in public relations

By Jordan Churchman

As public relations students we often hear about the importance of strong, positive relationships between PR professionals and their clients. The ability to build these relationships is one of the greatest skills a communicator can master. It was not until I became account liaison of Red Stick PR that I fully understood just how important it is.

To have a successful client/agency relationship PR professionals must possess strong communication skills. Ken Jacobs offers quick tips to building such relationships on the Public Relations Society of America website. His tips are as follows:
1. Listen
2. Understand their world
3. Understand their fears
4. Use their language
5. Care
6. Be proactive
7. Become strategic
8. Change with them
9. Be the call your client wants to take
10. Articulate your standards
11. Create win-win situations
12. Go to them

Most of these tips seem very obvious, but when public relations practitioners get bogged down in the details of a campaign, these simple things can be overlooked. When we began our campaign for Fellowship Church our first course of action was to set up a client interview with the head pastor of the South Ascension location, Todd Blount. The purpose of this interview was first to get historical information and details about how the organization functions on a daily basis. The second purpose of the interview was to get a feel for the client and the church’s needs as an organization.

It was important for us to absorb as much information as we could from Blount in order to understand Fellowship Church’s world and the challenges it faces on a daily basis. As an agency it was also important for us to hear Fellowship Church’s mission and vision for the future, which helped us develop a passion for our campaign. The client interview was a huge success. The agency members and the client left with respect for each other and excitement for what was to come.

Thus far in our campaign I have been in constant, open communication with Blount. We have asked for his feedback before proceeding with fliers, coupons and event plans. Along with giving us his opinions about the work we are doing for the church Blount is engaged and interested in the specifics about our ideas and plans for the campaign. When we talked last week he expressed interest in the strategic messaging plan. Because of his history in communication Blount is familiar with most of the things we have done. Red Stick PR is very fortunate to have a client as interested and helpful as Blount at Fellowship Church.

Our next client meeting is Friday, March 8, 2013, at D’Vinci’s Cafe’ in Gonzales, La. The goal of this meeting is to finalize details about our teacher appreciate event in April. Once we have hammered down these final details we will proceed in putting our event plan memo into action. Check back on our blog next week to find out what progress we have made with the event.

For more information on Fellowship Church or to keep up with its progress via other sources, check out the website, Facebook and Twitter (@FC_Prairieville). For more information about me, please check out my Twitter (@jordanwhitneyc), Pinterest or LinkenIn profile. Thanks for reading.