Bringing Unity to the Community

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Elvis entered the doors of the Lakeland Harbor Community Clubhouse on September 5, 2011 to perform some of his top hits and the crowd went wild! The music was loud, the dancing was groovy, and the food was finger lickin’ good. 84 people witnessed this night unfold but were you one of them?

This 50’s sock hop event is one of the many events hosted by Noah’s Ark, a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering those with developmental disabilities. Among many things, they provide a housing residence and assist the disabled in finding employment and every month they provide opportunities for the community to get involved by participating in their events.

“Our kids love music, dancing, and food.. the sock hop had it all. The event included a gourmet dinner of hot dogs and hamburgers with all the trimmings. Music was mostly from the 50’s and 60’s with some electric slide, chicken dance, YMCA, and achy-breaky heart thrown in. We even had a surprise visit from “Elvis.” It was really Billy Warnock, one of our very own, dressed up in costume!” said Jack Kosik, executive director of Noah’s Ark.

Laura Tracy

At the end of the evening, one of the disabled girls Laura was heard to say, “We need to do this more often, this is the most fun I ever had.” For Jack and his volunteers, this simple statement from Laura makes all the work they direct towards creating events, worth it.

Noah’s Ark passionately desires participants of their program to enjoy life to the fullest. That’s why they dedicate much time and effort in planning, organizing, and hosting events like the 50’s sock hop event. They also want to build relationships between the community and the disabled.

When Noah’s Ark isn’t bringing down the house with a 50’s sock hop dance, you can rest assured that they are busy doing something. Every month they upload a calendar on their website listing all of the events for that month. The events range from special events, like the 50’s sock hop, to other events like bowling, tennis, golf, and basketball, which are more laid back and frequent.

“It’s important for us to provide opportunities for our kids, to have fun and enjoy life. I call them kids but I know their not. It’s just that I truly love and care for them like my own kids,” said Jack Kosik.

Jack Kosik and his team of volunteers also plan community events. They believe it is a key ingredient in spreading awareness, which they believe is vital for the growth and success of Noah’s Ark.

“The community relations aspect of our organization is critical because of the population we are dealing with. A lot of people still don’t know who we are and until we are able to educate those people, it’s hard to gain support and it’s difficult to build community,” said Jack.

Through community events over the past couple years, Noah’s Ark has been able to gain more awareness. It has also helped the organization educate the public on the issues and struggles people with disabilities face each day and provide opportunities for them to get involved whether that be by volunteering, spreading the word, or simply donating money to help keep Noah’s Ark functioning.

A lot of Noah’s Ark community events are also fundraisers. They provide an opportunity for people to build unity, learn more about the organization, while also having the chance to give funds that help Noah’s Ark reach others.

“Sometimes people don’t give because they think they don’t have a large enough donation. They don’t realize that any amount of money helps. Whther that be $1,000 or $10, we appreciate it all,” said Jack Kosik.

Donations for the organization were recently gained during this past black Friday weekend, from Nov 25-27. Noah’s Ark and restaurant chain, Ruby Tuesday’s, came together by creating an opportunity for people to participate in Ruby Tuesday’s community giveback program.

“All customers had to do was present a flyer to their server and designate Noah’s Ark as their organization of choice and 20% of the purchase price was then donated to Noah’s Ark,” said Jack.

They also had a “Bowl-a-thon,” on October 23, 2011 located at Orange Bowl lanes on 98 North in Lakeland, FL. After the event, the community had grown closer, awarness of the Noah’s Ark was gained, and almost $8,000 for the organization was raised.

Community event planning for Noah’s Ark is more than something on the agenda. It’s something they passionately pursue because they realize they wouldn’t be where they are today without help from the community.

“The people of Lakeland are great. They are loving, supportive, and people who truly want to give back,” said Jack.

When people hear “Noah’s Ark” they often remember the story of a man who loved God, built an ark, and desired to accomplish a plan that few people believed in. The opposition he faced was great but he demonstrated the perseverance to never give up.

Like this story, a non-profit organization is pursuing their plan as well and continues to build their own “ark.” Despite the obstacles they face, their refusal to give up has been settled. They call themselves “Noah’s Ark.” Maybe because of their desire to carry people towards a life beyond the storms or maybe because they are calling for all people, the entire community, to come aboard and take part in a plan worth pursuing.

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Top 10 List For Newbie Bloggers!

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Photo Credit: Thinkgeek.com

While comparing what I knew when I first started blogging and what I now know, I find myself truly amazed. Starting off, I thought I knew exactly what I was doing but when I read some of my first blog posts, I find myself smacking my forehead at the mistakes I made.

With anything in life, you become better with practice and there is no exception when it comes to blogging.

I don’t consider myself an expert but I do believe I can offer some valuable tips on blogging for all you newbies!

  1. The name is half the game: Brainstorm and come up with a catchy name for your blog. Don’t just write  “PR 101” or “Learning PR.” Talk about BORING! Trust me, that is no way to gain readers.
  2. Looks are everything: Make sure your blog is appealing to the eye. Don’t have a billion columns or a crazy font size. (I recently saw a blog that had tons of videos uploaded that stretched outside of the columns they were suppose to be in. I left that blog before it gave me a headache!)
  3. Stay hip: The only way to stay hip is to stay relevant! Write and talk about issues that are going on today. Don’t live way in the past but try to be on top of current events. Talk about issues that are causing interest now!
  4. Follow the leader: Find professional bloggers who have been blogging for years and follow them. See what they’re talking about and learn from them in the way they write, post, and communicate with others.
  5. A picture says a thousand words: Adding pictures to your blog posts are a sure way of drawing more readers in. If you have a stimulating or even controversial photo along with your writing, people will be drawn in to read.
  6. Communicate: When someone comments on your blog, make sure you take time to comment back. This builds relationships between you and your readers. This is one of the main points of blogging!
  7. Videos: Sometimes there is something you want to write but instead of typing it out, there’s a video you find that says that same information. Why not post the video in your blog? Or even better, record yourself talking about what you would have originally wrote. This adds variety and people like variety.
  8. Break it up: Make sure you don’t write in long paragraph form. I see people who have been blogging for several years still making this mistake.
  9. Establish a voice: Make sure you have good tone in your writing and have enthusiasm. You can turn a reader off immediately by how you sound in your writing.
  10. Have fun: I know it sounds cliché but its true. You will be surprised at how much fun you can have!

Blogging can be intimidating at first. You can feel like your alone, sitting in your chair, typing out information that won’t be seen by anyone. But be encouraged and know that your posts could be found by some of the greatest, most well-known bloggers out there. And maybe one day, you will become one of those great bloggers…

Best of blogging to you all!

Citizen Journalism

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Topic of the week #11

Photo Credit: Ruffledblog.com

Citizen Journalism is a new trend that is becoming more popular each day. The term refers to normal day people taking the roles of journalists. For example, someone sees a man stealing a woman’s purse and captures a photo of it with his phone. Then, they upload the picture on Facebook, Twitter, or any other form of social media.

Citizen journalism can take shape in many different forms. It can be a photo, video, blog, comment on a blog, or a podcast.

The growth of technology and social media has equipped the average day citizen with the tools necessary to become a journalist. People often have their phones readily available and so wherever they are, if something is happening of importance, they can record it and share it with the world in a matter of seconds.

A real example of citizen journalism would be when the U.S. Airways plane crashed into the Hudson river. A man named Janis Krums from Sarasota, Florida took a picture of the plane and posted it on Twitter with his mobile phone. It was the first photo taken of the accident. Yes, he beat of all the “real” journalists in capturing this moment and sharing it with others. Thirty-four minutes after Janis posted his picture, he was asked to be interviewed by MSNBC live on TV as a witness.

This is the photo he took with his mobile phone:

Photo Credit: Janis Krums

Think Outside the Bubble

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Photo Credit: weheartit.com

Topic of the week #10

After watching the TED video with speaker Eli Pariser, I was surprised and in some aspects, shocked. The information I was digesting was eye opening and shed light to something I was completely unaware of. It was the first time I faced the reality of “filter bubbles.” 

By “filter bubbles,” Eli Pariser was referring to how different organizations, like Facebook and Google, monitor the links and websites people visit and then edit what they are able to see based on the links and websites they find they are frequently choosing to visit.

Proof: Eli Pariser prooved this by showing how two different people can type in the exact same thing into Google search, at the same time, and get two completely different lists of information and links to choose from.

Also, he showed how his Facebook newsfeed was being filtered. He explained that he was a liberal and would often click on links that contained liberal infromation or opinions. Facebook monitored his actions and in return edited his newsfeed to the point where his conservitive friends’ links would not appear in his newsfeed anymore. Eli had been placed into a filter bubble. He was just one of the many billions of people who this was happening to.

Problem: The danger with “filter bubbles” is that it gives you only a portion of the picture. It doesn’t give you well-rounded information but it merley gives you what you want to hear. People don’t need to only see and read information that they agree with, they need information that they oppose. They need to be faced with new ideas and ways of thinking that aren’t normal to them. In essence, orgaizations like Google and Facebook are taking away individuals freedom to search the web and find information themselves. They are shaping the way humans think.

To hear more, watch the entire video of Eli Pariser as he talks about the dangers of “Filter Bubbles.”

A Splash of Color!

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Topic of the week #9

Photo Credit: dpchallenge.com

When you want to explain complex information in a quick way, infographics are the direction to head in. Why bore your audience with long and often boring paragraphs, when you can grab their attention quickly with a splash of color by using infographics?

Infographics are visual representations of information, data, or knowledge.  (They often come in handy in PR when writing a story for a client).

Infographics are comprised of three elements:

1. Visual Elements: Color coding, graphics, and reference icons

2. Content Elements: Time frames, statistics, and references

3. Knowledge Elements: Facts

When creating infographics:

  • Keep it simple: infographics should be clean and concise. All the information being displayed should be well-organized and easy to read.
  • Keep the attention: Many readers lose interest quickly so its important to be as clear as possible and to the point before readers have a chance to miss the entire message.
  • Splash of color: Color draws people in and gives readers conceptual and emotional impressions. Color makes the information stand out and keeps the information more appealing to the eye.

People are automatically drawn to visual things. As humans, we are driven by what we see. That’s why infographics can play such a vital role when writing a story for a client. It brings excitement to whats being said and it gives a more stimulating effect to the reader.

Here are a few examples of infographics!

photo credit: vizworld.com

Photo credit: matthewgain.posterous.com


Meet Leslie Ludy!

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Topic of the week #8

This week, I chose Leslie Ludy as my guest blogger. Leslie is a best-selling author and speaker who has a passion for reaching her generation with the hope of Christ. The first time I came across her blog was this month, when I saw it taped on a wall in my dorm. When I read it, I began to cry because I was so touched and moved by her words.

Leslie Ludy has inspired me to fall more in love with God. I hope you find inspiration and are moved to do the same. Enjoy!

Photo Credit: Setapartgirl.com

“In some of my books, I’ve mentioned how I love to listening to Scripture on my IPOD – while I’m driving, cleaning, or waiting for an appointment.  This week as I was cleaning out my closet (part of the whole “nesting” instinct, since I have another baby coming in a few weeks!) I was listening to the book of Mark, and heard the story of the sick man who’s friends were so determined to get him to Jesus that they climbed up onto the roof and let his bed down through the ceiling:

And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying. (Mark 2:4)

When Jesus saw their faith, he forgave the man’s sins and healed him from his sickness.  They knew that Jesus was the only one who could help their friend.  So they loaded him onto a bed and brought him to the place where Jesus was.  When they saw that it was impossible to get to Jesus because of the crowds, they didn’t turn back and say, “Oh well, at least we tried.”    They refused to give in to defeat.  They were willing go to any and all means to remove the obstacles keeping them from laying their sick friend at Christ’s feet.  This is the kind of dogged faith and spiritual determination that God responds to.  Their determination and commitment yielded great rewards.

This story convicted and challenged me in a whole new way as I heard it.  How many times do we allow the “crowds” to keep us from laying our cares at Jesus’ feet?  Without Him, we can do nothing – He is the one who has everything we need for life and godliness.  But how often to we allow circumstances, busyness and distractions to keep us from Him?  The past few weeks, my life has been exceptionally full with travel, deadlines, household projects and of course caring for three little munchkins under the age of four!  During busy seasons, it’s all too easy to make a half-hearted attempt to guard my time in God’s presence – rather than being willing to do whatever it takes to come and kneel at Jesus’ feet.  Andrew Bonar once said,

O brothers and sisters, pray; in spite of Satan, pray; spend hours in prayer; rather neglect friends than not pray; rather fast, and lose breakfast, dinner, tea, and supper – and sleep too – than not pray.  And we must not talk about prayer, we must pray in right earnest.  The Lord is near.  He comes softly while the virgins slumber. 

Are we willing to lose sleep, food, productivity, social status, and “down time” in order to come before our Lord every day and make Him the highest priority of our life?  Do we have a spiritual determination that says, “no obstacle will keep me from my King – even if I must go to the rooftop and break through the house tiles to get to Him!”?  Or do we make half-hearted attempts to spend time in prayer, and when distractions arise say, “Oh well, at least I tried.”  God has been challenging me on this point at a whole new level.  I have realized afresh that I must allow nothing to become an excuse to keep me from Him.  Whenever I catch myself saying, “Well, I didn’t get much sleep last night and I’m 7 months pregnant, so I probably should just have a short quiet time and call it good,” that’s when I know that my spiritual determination has weakened, that I’ve allowed the cares of this world to creep in and keep me from my King.  May we never be content with a paltry, half-hearted spiritual life or say, “once I’m done with this busy time, I’ll get back to true prayer.”   Rather, let us doggedly, determinedly remove any and every obstacle that keeps us from coming to Him daily, spending hours in His presence, and receiving everything we need for life and godliness!”

To read other posts by Leslie Ludy, visit her blog Setapartgirl.com 

STORIFY. It’s easy as 1,2,3!

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Topic of the week # 7

What is storify?

Storify is a clever tool for telling stories using social media such as Facebook posts, Tweets, photos and videos. It gives you the ability to search multiple social networks from one location. When you find the information you want, you simply drag individual elements into your story. You can also arrange the information into any order you want and add text to give context to readers.

Photo Credit: bebestilo.com

What does storify mean?

According to storify.com, “storify”  is an obsolete word that used to be in the dictionary that means “to form or tell stories.” The website also mentions that it was a word used internally at The Associated Press, where co-founder of Storify was a correspondent. Editors sending messages to reporters asking them to do a story would often write: “Can u pls storify?”

Benefits for PR and Journalism?

PR professionals and journalists all over the world are sharing information through social media. But since new information is always appearing and old information is constantly being updated, streams of information are quickly being lost into a sea of endless information.

However, with the help of Storify, people in PR and journalism can put together the best photos, videos, Tweets, and even Facebook posts to create stories that will never be forgotten. And since the stories are embeddable, they can easily share them with anyone.

Here is a great video tutorial on getting started with Storify:

Your Face Isn’t the Only Place for Makeup…

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Topic of the week #6

Girls, why do we put make up on? To look good and get attention of course! And guys, what makes you notice a particular gal? It’s often the way they do their make up that makes you notice their best features!

But did you know, your face isn’t the only thing you should be putting make up on? What about headlines?

Photo Credit: Emily Noel

Being able to write effective headlines is crucial when it comes to digital media.  If the headline doesn’t excite people, engage them, or make them curious, they are most likely going to skip right over your blog without reading even the first sentence. 

HEADLINE MAKE-UP TIPS:

  1. Be unique: Take time to brainstorm something clever and catchy. The more you are able to stand out amongst the crowd, the greater chance you will have in attracting readers.
  2. Controversial: example: “Is PR dead?”
  3. Comical: If you can write a funny headline that relates to your post, go for it! Readers want to gain knowledge while also having fun. If there is a chance they will get a couple good laughs from your article, make sure they know!
  4. Benefit: Tell readers what the benefit will be for reading your post. For example: “Learn how to manage money the fun way!”
  5. Avoid abbreviations:  People don’t usually use abbreviations when typing into search engines.
  6. How to: Tell readers that your post will take them through the steps of learning a particular technique. For example: “How to change your oil.”
  7. Use numbers: If you have tips on finding a job, you can write your headline like this: “10 tips on finding a job!”
  8. Length: The perfect headline should be around a couple of words. If your headline is several sentences, you have written way too much. Headlines are quick, snapshots of your post so make sure you get to the point quickly.
  9. Misleading: Your headline shouldn’t be misleading. If you are giving readers the impression that they are about to read something that has nothing to do with the actual content of your blog, you will have some frustrated readers.
  10. Proofread: check for any spelling or grammar issues before you post you article.

Say Whaaaaat?

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Topic of the Week #5

You aren’t communicating if you aren’t commenting. Simple enough!

You see, without taking time to leave a comment after reading a post, you will never make any connections. But you don’t want to write a comment just to make your presence known, you want to leave something behind of substance. Your comments need to be effective!

Tips on writing EFFECTIVE blog comments:

#1. Determine Your Motivation: Know what your motivation is behind your comment, it will help you decide what direction to move in.

Photo credit: Anthony Burrill

#2. Be Respectful: You want to look sophisticated and you want to make an impression that will cause others to take you seriously. Leaving rude comments, especially containing vulgar language, will make you stand out… in a bad way.

#3. Actually say something: Don’t be so vague with comments like, “I agree,” or “your wrong.” Be specific, give examples, personal experiences if appropriate, and state your opinion!

#4. Know what you’re talking about: If you want to give advice, make sure you it holds true. Do the research in advance and don’t leave a comment until you know your stuff.

#5. Get to the 1 point: A blog comment shouldn’t be a whole research paper listing things you believe on the issue being discussed. If you have a lot to say, start your own blog and make a post on the issue.

#6.  Keep it short: No one wants to be an old person, sitting in their rocking chair, by the time they get done reading your comment. Make sure you get to the point and say the essentials!

#7: Link carefully: People often try to attract attention to themselves by posting a link to their blog. That can comes off as annoying and pushy. Make sure that the link your posting really does relate to the topic you are commenting on. Keep it professional!

#8: Proofread: Even if you leave a great comment, misspelled words and incorrect grammar will throw readers off. Readers will take you less seriously because they’ll thinkg your uneducated. If you take the time to write a great comment, make sure you take the time to deliver it error free!

FRESH MEAT FRESHMEN.

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Hey Freshmen,

It’s your first year of college! Your excited and you can’t hardly wait to make new friendships and possibly find a significant other… but slow down. Take time to learn a thing or two from someone whose been there and knows what its like.

Almost 4 years ago, I was where you are right now. Getting ready to make the decisions you will soon face. Looking back, there were tons of things I wish I would have known or done differently.

Photo Credit: Madison Gifford

There are three main areas of your college life that you need to focus on: academics, spiritual, and social. 

Here are some tips from myself and some of my peers pertaining to these areas…

ACADEMICS:

  1. Don’t overwhelm yourself with too many classes that you don’t have time for a social life. A lot of freshman make this mistake by taking a lot of classes or enrolling in very difficult courses.
  2. “Find a professor to mentor you, who will give you advice and encouragement on how to succeed in the future.” Tip from Amanda Furmage.
  3. “Don’t be afraid to schedule an appointment with your professor if you don’t understand something.” Tip from Laurita Carranza.

SPIRITUAL:

  1. Discuss your schedule with your roommate. Make sure you know the times you will have the room to yourself so you can use that opportunity to pray and spend one-on-one time with God.
  2. “Get plugged into a church off campus.” Tip from Rachel LaFlam.
  3. “Find a church that you can get involved in. Explore the options, but don’t go more than 6 months without finding a church that you want to continuously be involved in.” Tip from MikelleLiette.

SOCIAL:

  1. Get plugged into clubs on campus and try to attend as many events as possible. It will help you feel a part of the community and provide opportunities for you to make new friendships.
  2. “Try sitting at a table in Tuscana with people you do not know and get to know them over breakfast, lunch, or dinner.” Tip from Nick Tedeschi.
  3. “Don’t limit yourself to only one group of friends. Make connections with everyone.” Tip from Johny Fernandez.
Last and final tip:  pursue joy and happiness. Don’t let anyone or any circumstance steal it from you. You will have great times during your college years but you will also face some of your greatest trials as well. When the storms come never let them keep you from smiling.
Remember you are unique and beautiful. You have a purpose beyond your hearts wildest dreams…
Don’t let anyone tell you differently.
-Sarah Rose

Photo Caption: Yessy Horst

SURFIN U.S.A!

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Topic of the week #4

We have often heard the phrase, “surf the web,” but what does that mean to you? To me it means to travel from site to site with speed and intensity. Any real surfer knows that in order to surf, you’ve got to stay moving and looking for new waves to catch!

Photo Credit: Erin Bowman

It’s in this simple phrase that I find the difference between writing for online reading and analog reading.  It’s the amount of time spent and how information is received.

Think of it like this: When you pick up a 300 page book on the history of WWI, you know you’re in for some heavy-duty reading but when you type in history of WWI in google, you expect to be connected to a site that will give you quick and immediate answers.

I can’t count the times that I have passed up a website because the information I was looking for was TOO long! If I wanted to read a book about a subject, I would have gone to the library…

You see, online readers want the main points of what they are searching for and analog readers want lots of details. It’s all about time and efficiency.

Most of us know how to write for print because we grew up writing papers and reports. Often times, we fall into the trap of thinking we can do the exact same method for online writing which is a quick way to get you ZERO readers.

Here are 10 tips to keep in mind for ONLINE writing:

1. PEOPLE LOVE TO SURF

It’s not about how much information you can pack into a post. It’s about writing the main points and getting to the points quickly. If you don’t write what people want to know in a way that they can easily read it, they will find another wave (website) to surf.

2. TODAY YOUR A JOURNALIST

In journalism there is little something called the “Inverted Pyramid.” This method of writing contains the 5 W’s: who, what, when, where, and why. All of these should be addressed in your writing in a concise manner. Background information and in-depth details should be moved to the end of your writing.

3. LINK IT

Instead of trying to back up everything you say with information, provide a link that provides evidence of your claims. This keeps your post clean and to the point while allowing your readers to learn more if they want to read further.

4. SKINNY PARAGRAPHS ARE HOT!

There is nothing that turns off people more while reading when they see a FAT paragraph. Don’t try to fit multiple ideas into one paragraph but keep them short. 2-3 sentences for a paragraph is guaranteed to catch some eyes!

5. DON’T LOOK DUMB!

After you’re done writing make sure you spell-check. You don’t want people to think you are really a 10-year-old behind a computer screen trying to be an adult.

6. A PICTURE IS WORTH A MILLION WORDS

Adding an image to go along with your writing is a way to grab a reader’s attention. If you have an interesting, funny, or emotional picture that can tie in with the content, use it!

7. 2 WAY CONVERSATION

Let people know that you would love their feedback. This opens up doors for you to communicate with readers and possibly get ideas for future writing.

8. OKAY, YOUR THE VOCAB KING…. WE GET IT.

Online writing is not the time to impress people with your extensive vocabulary. Try and keep your audience in mind. If you’re using words that the average reader doesn’t understand, your writing above your readers heads.

9. YOUR HEADLINE IS A MAKE OR BREAK!

The headline of your post is the first thing people will read when they come across your writing. You want to be creative  enough to gain their attention but not too creative that they don’t understand what your article is about.

10. LOCK & LOAD.

When writing, don’t hesitate on using bullet points instead of paragraphs. The more you use bullet points to get your message across the more likely you are to have people read what you write!

If you have any tips you would like add to my list, please leave a comment! I would love to hear from you!

-Sarah Rose

“You say tomato, I say tomahto!”

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Topic of the week #3

Photo Credit: Marthastewart.com

When visiting Mignon Fogarty’s Grammar Girl’s website, I came across a lot of information about grammar that use to always confuse me. Grammar has never been my cup of tea because it always scared me. However, after searching through some of Grammar Girl’s blogs, I developed a new understanding of grammar and learned that grammar doesn’t have to be a scary thing…

The first blog I read was titled, “A vs An”

It can be tricky knowing when to use “A or An” in a sentence and often times people make mistakes by putting one instead of the other. Sometimes what sounds right to your ear isn’t what is grammatically correct.

Grammar girl remedied this situation with offering a simple rule to follow:

Rule: “… you use abefore words that start with a consonant sound and an before words that start with a vowel sound.”

The next blog that I read was about “Who vs. Whom.”

This is another area of grammar that use to trouble me but the Grammar Girl website put it in simple terms that I was able to grasp!

Rule: “You use who when you are referring to the subject of a clause and whom when you are referring to the object of a clause.”

I have learned many things from Grammar Girl’s website but the last thing I will blog about is the blog on “A while vs. Awhile”

Before reading this blog, I always interchanged these two words without much thought. I didn’t know there was grammatical rules about when to use each of these words.

Rule: “A while” is a time, a noun. The article “a” before “while” is a sure sign that you’re dealing with a noun.”

ex: “It’s been a while since Squiggly tried Marmite.”

Rule: “Awhile” means “for a time” and it’s an adverb.”

ex: “Go play awhile.”

As you can see there is a simple rule to follow when contemplating whether you use “awhile or a while,” in a sentence and the rule is very simple and easy to remember!

I hope this post has calmed and cooled some of your fears about grammar. Grammar can be a scary thing if you let it be. Decide today to take control over that fear and learn from one of the best sources on grammar: Mignon Fogarty’s Grammar girl website!

-Sarah Rose

TEAM ADAM!

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Topic of the week #2

If you’re looking for a blog to continually stay plugged in with, who better to choose from then PR consultant Adam Vincenzini?

History: 

Adam started off as a traditional PR consultant and made a transition into a more social one at London-based agency Paratus Communications. He decided to set up his blog “COMMS corner” during this transition time to capture and share with others what he was learning in the process.

I’m “Team ADAM” and you should be to!

Photo Credit: Creative Commons Attribution

In Adam’s blog, he discusses topics relating to social media. Students studying public relations can definitely benefit from this blog because social media is a huge part of today’s PR. Many people, including myself, are getting ready to graduate college and launch our careers. With that said, we need to stay up-to-date with current social media trends and issues so we aren’t out of the loop.

“This blog tends to be visited by communications professionals and media enthusiasts,” wrote Adam Vincenzini.

There is clearly something of value and importance that can be taken from this blog and with the amount of traffic received from COMM professionals, it opens an opportunity for conversation between professionals and students aspiring to become professionals.

Post examples:

“The blog post I never thought I’d write (and publish)” 

(Adam talks about his experience with depression and how he went about coping and managing it. This post struck me because Adam is REAL. He isn’t pretending to be something he’s not. There is a beautiful thing in finding someone who blogs transparently.)

“How the media is remembering 9/1 (10 years on)” 

(Adam ties current events with social media to show the relationships between them.)

“10 signs you work in PR- the London Edition.”

(Not only is PR discussed in an educational way it’s also done humorously. Read this post and if you don’t laugh, something is wrong with you!)

So be sure to check out Adam Vincenzini’s blog COMMS corner!  You will laugh, be inspired, and learn something along the way!

-Sarah Rose

Like Two Peas in a Pod

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Topic of the week #1

Social Media and I are like two peas in a pod. Where you can find social media, you can also find me. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, or iTunes Podcasts, I’m there experiencing it all.

Photo Credit: Lilyraz

The great thing about social media is that it allows you to experience the world on a completely new level. It’s opens doors for you to make connections that would never be possible in normal circumstances.

Twitter: the great thing about Twitter is the ability it gives you to follow those who carry the “celebrity” status. Do you have a favorite actor, singer, author, or even pastor? 9 times out of 10 you can find them on Twitter and follow them. By “follow” I mean stay up-to-date on what they are doing, where they are going, etc.

Facebook: personally this is my favorite social media type. It’s very personable and the amount of information you share with others is completely up to you. If you want to be completely open you can allow anyone to view your information. Or if you want to be less open, you can decide who is allowed to see what information you post. It’s also a great way to get to know people because of its ability to express who you are as an individual on such a deep level.

WordPress: Have you ever had one of those moments where something comes to your mind that you just have to share? You can’t post it on your Facebook because it would be obnoxiously long and you don’t bother trying to Tweet it cause it would never fit. The solution is to blog about it! When something is rolling around on my heart and I feel like rambling, I head toward my WordPress blog and share my thoughts.

iTunes Podcast: I love podcasts on iTunes! I can’t tell you how many podcasts I have watched or listened to over the past few years. Trust me, the number would probably shock you. I use iTunes podcasts to watch sermons and teachings by my favorite christian pastors and speakers. It’s so nice to get in bed after a long day, turn on your computer, and play a podcast completely for free! It’s also nice because I can download the podcasts onto my iPod and take them with me wherever I go!

If you currently aren’t using social media, I strongly encourage you to do so. It’s a great way to build relationships and also broaden your horizons. It’s also very user-friendly. It may take time at first to get use to it but in the long run it will be worth it!

If you love social media just as much as me and use other forms of social media that I didn’t mention please leave a comment and tell me about it! I’m always looking for something new and fun to try!

-Sarah Rose

Pinterest, my favorite addiction.

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Photo Credit: Thevintageapple.com

I’m sure many of you have heard about the website, “Pinterest.com.” A lot of people use it but there are still many people who don’t know what it is. Let me inform you!

What’s Pinterest?

Pinterest is an online database with thousands of pictures. The pictures are divided up into different sections depending on what they deal with. Different sections like, food, apparel, travel, home decor, DYI, education, fitness, and a lot more.

What Do You Do?

People upload pictures and then other people can see them. When you see a picture you want to save, you “repin” it. The picture is then moved to one of your  virtual “pin boards.” You can have as many pin boards as you would like and post as many pictures to those boards as you want. I have pin boards that I’ve named, “outfit ideas,” “one day,” “yummy,” “nails,” “hair styles,” and the list could go on.

You can also click on the pictures because they have embedded links that will take you to where you can find more information about the picture. For example, there are tons of pictures of different meals. When you see something you like, you can click on the picture and it will take you to a website that gives you the recipe on how to make that meal. It’s pretty awesome!

Also, you can buy things on Pinterest too. There is a tab called “gifts” near the top of the page and you can choose the price range you want to view pictures from. On the top left side corner of each picture, it will tell how much the item costs.

Another Type of Social Media!

Let me also mention that you can follow your friends on Pinterest too. You can send pictures to them and comment on pictures they upload. You can even sync your Pinterest account with Facebook or Twitter and they will find your friends for you! Simple, easy, and loads of fun.

If this post hasn’t inspired you to set up a Pinterest account, something is clearly wrong with you! If it has, I warn you that it can be very addicting but who cares, it’s so much fun!

If you have any other questions about Pinterest, let me know! I would love to answer them for you.

10 Tips: How to write a press release

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Photo Credit: Leo Reynolds

Knowing the basics of how to write a press release are crucial if you are going to be a PR pro.  It’s important to know the correct ways in writing a press release before your even given the assignment.

Here are a list of tips on writing a press relase!

  1. Make sure the information is newsworthy.
  2. Tell the audience that the information is intended for them and why they should continue to read it.
  3. Start with a brief description of the news, then distinguish who announced it, and not the other way around.
  4. Ask yourself, “How are people going to relate to this and will they be able to connect?”
  5. Make sure the first 10 words of your release are effective, as they are the most important.
  6. Avoid excessive use of adjectives and fancy language.
  7. Deal with the facts.
  8. Provide as much Contact information as possible: Individual to Contact, address, phone, fax, email, Web site address.
  9. Make sure you wait until you have something with enough substance to issue a release.
  10. Make it as easy as possible for media representatives to do their jobs.

Rated T for Teen: Turkey Bowling Event

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Photo Credit: Lynnspin.com

Midflorida credit union is hosting their first “Turkey Bowling” event for teens on Nov 22! The event will take place at AMF Lakeland lanes, located on S. Florida, from 5-9pm.

Teens will be able to enjoy free bowling, shoe and ball rental, as well as free pizza and unlimited bevarages! On top of that, they will also have a chance to win some awesome prizes. Door prizes will be raffled off throughout the event and other small prizes will be given away through competitions. The top prize will be given to the lucky teen who bowls a turkey (three strikes in-a-row!) first!

Event details can also be found on Midflorida’s Rated T for Teen Facebook page or on there RT4T blog. They are asking that teens RSVP no later than Monday, 11/ 21 on their Facebook page, so they can gurauntee enough food and lanes for everyone.

Hannah Sells, Midflorida’s youth spokesperson, will also be there bowling and talking with other fellow teens!

I wish when I was a teen, I had a bank that had cool events like this! Maybe I’ll crash the party? Only kidding!

Rated T for Teen: Witcha-Be-Wearing Halloween Contest

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Photo Credit: RT4T.com

This Halloween, Midflorida Credit Union had their first “Witcha-be-Wearing” Halloween 2011 Costume Photo Contest!

They asked teens to take a photo of their unique homemade costume creation and submit it for a chance to WIN:

$100: 1st place, $75: 2nd place, $50: 3rd place

All of the announcements took place on Midflorida’s Rated T for Teen Facebook page. They posted status updates encouraging teens to participate and even with it being the first time they had an event like this for teens, they still had a great response.

Photo’s of all the participants in their costumes can be found on Midflorida’s Rated T for Teen Facebook page, in their “Halloween photo contest 2011” photo album. Looking through the pictures, I was pretty impressed with what these teens were able to come up with.

Here are photos of the three winners!

Photo Credit: Midflorida credit union (1st place winner)

Photo Credit: Midflorida credit union (2nd place winner)

Photo Credit: Midflorida credit union (3rd place winner)

Think Before You Comment!

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For many years I have been an avid user of different types of social media, like Facebook, Twitter, and blogs. I have spent hours commenting on photos, videos, and blog posts. When I first started, leaving a comment wasn’t something that I stopped and ever thought about.This isn’t exactly the best approach…

Here are different ways to write effective blog comments!

Photo Credit: Ashleigh Lalor

#1. Determine Your Motivation: If you as the commenter know what your motivation is behind your comment, it will help you decide what kind of comment to write.

#2. Provide context: This is something that I have noticed there is a great lack of. Many times I have read through a list of comments, that numerous people have left, and the comments get so out of context that its very hard to follow what is being said. That’s why giving context in your blog comment is so important. Other commenters won’t be confused as to what you’re talking about and the original poster themselves will understand your comment better and be able to respond back in a more beneficial and productive way.

#3. Be Respectful: That is simple enough. Don’t leave rude comments that make you, as a commenter, look bad. You want to look sophisticated and you want the poster and other commenters to take you seriously. Leaving rude comments, especially containing vulgar language, will make you stand out in a bad way.

#4. Make a Point: Don’t be so vague with comments like, “I agree,” or “your wrong.” Be specific and state your opinion.

#5. Know What You’re Talking About: Don’t state that you have no idea about what you’re saying and then give advice as to what the blog poster should do or believe. Do the research in advance and don’t leave a comment until you know your stuff!

#6. One Point Per Comment: A blog comment shouldn’t be a whole paper on all of the different things that you believe on the issue being discussed. If you have a lot to say, start your own blog and make a post on the issue.

#7.  Keep it short: This is definitely something that I agree with! I cannot tell you how many times I have read comments that have gone on for years it seamed like. I don’t want to be an old lady, sitting in my rocking chair, by the time I get through reading a comment. Plus, halfway through the comment, people start to get bored. They don’t want to read a whole novel so make sure you get to the point and say the essentials.

#8: Proofread: Even if you leave a great comment, if words are spelled wrong and the grammar is completely off, no one will be able to focus on the great comment you just left. They also will start to take you less seriously because they will think you are not educated. If you take the time to write a great comment, make sure you take the time to deliver it greatly!

Benefits of Social Media Monitoring

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Benefits: 

Photo Credit: Alexa Westerfield

#1. Reading a customer’s mind: These monitoring tools give companies the wonderful ability to find out, not only what their consumers feel about them, but also what the general public feels about them. It gives them the chance to read the minds of the people when it comes to a new product, promotions, etc.

#1. Cuts back time: The great thing about social media monitoring tools is that it provides the ability to receive the publics opinion quickly. Customers can voice their opinions about a corporation or their products in a matter of seconds, which helps the company tremendously. They are able to quickly make adjustments in whatever areas needed to better serve their consumers when they have easy, quick access, to their opinions.

#3. Everyone wins: Social media monitoring is a win for everyone. It not only helps the companies but it also helps the consumers. Consumers often don’t realize that corporations do take the time to research what people are saying about them. A good corporation wants to satisfy and make their customers happy and by using monitoring tools, they are able to do just that! Companies search the web and monitor the conversations going on about their brand. They read the positive stuff and the negative stuff and learn what to keep and what to adjust.

In my eyes, social media monitoring is a new, ground breaking way, to communicate. It provides a channel in which a company’s management team is able to talk to the people outside of their company. Without it, companies and their consumers wouldn’t be able to communicate  as effectively. It’s important for consumers to realize that companies do care about what they are saying about them and their products. It’s important to remember: Communication is key!