Public relations lessons from service-learning

It has already been almost three months since I started the service-learning work with my group, Prism Communication, and our client, the Louisiana Northshore Quilt Trail Association (LNQTA). The semester is sprinting to an end, and we will soon see our efforts take concrete shape. Namely, our SCVNGR launch event in Ponchatoula, La., is now less than a month away:

Louisiana Northshore Quilt Trail SCVNGR launch

Along with the event, several other tactics are underway to promote the SCVNGR trek, the quilt trails and of course, tourism to the Northshore Louisiana region. The work continues on for Prism, but I feel I have already learned several new things since we started, particularly about what characterizes public relations (PR) in action.

PR is a process

PR takes time and step-by-step actions. Although familiar with the model R.O.P.E.S. from previous classes, through first-hand experience I am coming to truly understand this process. As said, we are close to three months into the project and still in the developing stage. We spent a lot of time first on researching. From the information gathered about LNQTA and its audiences, we then developed a strategy for our campaign, a big idea from which we could flesh out objectives and tactics to implement. Although our mini-campaign for LNQTA will not include the last two steps, a full PR campaign would then continue to evaluations, or comparing results to objectives. The campaign then “ends” with stewardship, or continuing to maintain a relationship with the target audience. In other words, there is no ending – PR is an ongoing process.

The PR process continues on like a circle of R.O.P.E.S. (Image source: Google)

PR is multifaceted

In the era of increasing technological capabilities, the once separate areas of communication are now crossing over each other and working more closely together than ever. The concept of integrated marketing communications (or IMC), in which departments like marketing, advertising and PR work together on one comprehensive message, is gaining more popularity and recognition. In this integrated environment, clients will expect more from PR agencies, and the agencies in turn will expect more from their new hires. Our client, for example, came to us with suggestions for tactics that range from media coverage, social media strategies (including SCVNGR, of course), a video to an online store. We are looking at several different processes from strategy developing to content production, but they are all prescribed under PR. That goes to say, it is not just about social media or press releases alone anymore. PR now includes all of these efforts and then some. Young PR professionals and students should start familiarizing ourselves with the different communication vessels so we can be ready for the demands of the “real world.”

I did not think of this when designing our group’s logo, but on retrospect PR is a lot like this prism model: multifaceted and requiring all aspects to measure up to each other.

I came into this class a big supporter of service-learning, and my experience so far has indeed given me valuable lessons regarding my major. I am ready to learn more with my Prism colleagues as we quickly approach the end of the semester. Follow our progress on LNQTA’s Facebook and come to our launching event on Dec. 2 to see our semester-long efforts.

Hope to see you there.

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One thought on “Public relations lessons from service-learning

  1. Pingback: What to expect of a service-learning PR course: A review from working with the Louisiana Northshore Quilt Trail Association and Prism Communications « another apPRentice

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