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posted by Apprentices Oct 07,2015 @ 03:41PM

The Power of Good

It’s been a tough week for Columbia and South Carolina in general. Our state has been stretched thin. Columbia native and NBC reporter Craig Melvin said it best: “Some lost everything. Pretty much everyone lost something,” when 5.8 trillion gallons of rain fell across the Palmetto State.

In the aftermath of the destruction that we’ve experienced, I’ve witnessed incredible things. Namely, an astonishing sense of community, stronger-than-normal enthusiasm to help others, and raw desire to get involved with relief efforts—more specifically, to actually get out and do something. Tragedy feels a little bit different when it hits this close to home.

Over the last 48-hours, I’ve seen people come together in more ways than I could’ve ever imagined. The offers for donations (both monetary and material), cleanup assistance, free services, and shelter have been astounding. Perhaps most touching, however, is the way that people are reaching out to one another just to say, “I’m here for you.”

Our community is combatting this damage with the only force that’s strong enough to do so: good. So here’s to all the volunteers, first responders, friends, neighbors, donors, and everyone else who is making a difference. Thanks to your good, kind hearts, we are able to fight proudly through this time of adversity. The power of good is what makes Columbia #FamouslyStrong.

Image courtesy of Experience Columbia, SC

posted by Apprentices Sep 03,2015 @ 04:34PM

What Public Relations Professionals Actually Do

I declared my major as public relations during my sophomore year of college. Admittedly, at the time I wasn’t quite sure what exactly public relations entailed. Well, surely it involves dealing with people, right? I’m outgoing. I can do that, I thought. Three years, hundreds of writing assignments and a post-grad apprenticeship later, I’m realizing that a lot of people may not understand what public relations is—I know I didn’t. When I say that I work in public relations, I usually get responses like, “So you’re an event planner?” or “That’s cool, my aunt is also in marketing!”

Yes, part of my job is event planning, and digital marketing can go hand-in-hand with public relations to create an integrated campaign. But neither of those things fully describes what public relations professionals do. From the outside, the profession seems confusing. I experienced that confusion myself. I am now in the third month of my public relations apprenticeship at Riggs Partners, and I just finished planning and managing two huge events in two weeks alongside Kelly Davis, our public relations director. Together, these events have given me firsthand insight into what public relations professionals actually do.

1)   Planning – A crucial part of public relations is strategic planning. Planning encompasses almost every other aspect of public relations within itself. Planning for public relations includes research, establishing goals, formulating outreach and response strategies, implementing communications tactics, and evaluation. Public relations professionals must plan for what will happen and what probably won’t happen. In the words of one of my favorite professors, “Nothing just happens—if you are at all related to it, you are responsible for it.”

2)   Writing – In college, my professors always stressed the importance of writing in public relations. It is imperative to be an effective communicator in this profession. A large portion of my time is spent writing news releases, media advisories, story pitches, and social media posts. Proofreading is essential.

3)   Educating – One responsibility of public relations professionals is to educate and engage the public. From an agency perspective, this task varies greatly from client to client. In my experience, educating the public has meant spreading the word about a free service that people may be eligible for, informing people about an upcoming industry conference and encouraging them to register, or simply raising awareness about an important issue in the community. Another quote from that same professor, “In public relations, information is power.”

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4)   Media Relations – One way to educate the public is to engage media participation in spreading the word about different issues and events. Part of our job as public relations professionals is to help the media do their jobs well. Media relations is much more than writing a fill-in-the-blank press release and distributing it to as many media outlets as possible. Instead, you must consider the audience you are trying to engage and focus on the media outlets that would be the most in-line with their needs. It is important to provide media with all necessary information and to connect them with the appropriate people for interviews to best tell your story. If you leave media hanging, they’re left to draw their own conclusions—which isn’t beneficial for anyone.

5)   Monitoring – Another large part of public relations is monitoring media coverage. If you sought media coverage of an event or story about your organization, it is important to check the coverage you earned for accuracy. Monitoring allows you to see which aspects were conveyed well and which aspects may not have been, and may teach you what to avoid for next time.

So yes, public relations professionals are event planners. And yes, they can be involved with marketing. But they’re also storytellers, crisis managers, media contacts, writers, researchers, educators, and so much more. As we wrap up a hectic summer, I feel incredibly thankful for the knowledge I’ve gained so far here at Riggs. These three months as a public relations apprentice have given me hands-on experience that has changed how I see public relations as a profession.

And perhaps most importantly, I’ve learned the importance of coffee (for those 4 a.m. news shots).

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Kelly and me meeting the TV stations before Dental Access Days at 4 a.m.

posted by Apprentices Apr 28,2015 @ 02:52PM

Mobilegeddon Is Here — But with Mobile Optimization, It's Not the End of the World

Mobilegeddon

Bruce isn't afraid.  And you don't have to be either.

Every time an algorithm change takes place, it certainly can feel like gearing up for battle. However, marketers: you can put your swords down if your website, landing pages and blog content are fully optimized for mobile.

On Tuesday, April 21, Google made an enormous change to the algorithm it uses to rank websites on smartphone devices. As digital marketers, we rely heavily on Google to send traffic to our client’s websites. When these changes take place, it’s our responsibility to educate ourselves and optimize accordingly.

What does this all mean? Mobile makes up about half of all Google searches, and the company recognizes three approaches to be mobile friendly: responsive design, dynamic serving, mobile website. Adjust your content accordingly, and you will be protected from the change.

To help you get started, Google has prepared this helpful list of common mobile mistakes to avoid.

In today’s digital age, we must stay current on industry trends, all the while staying true to our brand and doing what’s best for our clients. While Armageddon may signal the end of the world, “Mobilegeddon” isn’t entirely dark. These adjustments will be rolled out over the next few weeks, so there is plenty of time to increase the “mobile-friendliness” of your site and increase overall ranking. 

What's more, optimizing our websites to appeal to the many ways people consume information will lead to higher-quality content and increased conversions. With that in mind, we no longer view this particular change as the end of the world, but rather just the beginning of a new mobile era. Bring it on, Mobilegeddon!

 

Author: Courtney Fleming

posted by Apprentices Apr 16,2015 @ 08:22AM

Inbound Is For Everyone (Even Realtors)

I recently watched a webinar by Inman, a real estate news website, about the power of inbound marketing

Being the daughter and girlfriend of real estate agents, and having an extreme passion for inbound marketing, I knew this was the webinar for me.

This was a great refresher for me and I think the information given can definitely apply to everyone, even realtors.

Here are my key takeaways from The Art Of Inbound Marketing For Real Estate: 6 Steps For Turning Strangers Into Clients

 I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did!

:) Mary Cate Duffy

posted by Apprentices Apr 15,2015 @ 01:08PM

Raising the Bar

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Columbia is changing and only for the better.

New buildings are going up at a seemingly rapid pace while old ones that have sat vacant for decades are being repurposed for new and exciting things. Notable examples include the former Bull Street Asylum, the Adluh Flour building, and the Palmetto Compress building.

But what of the creative scene? Well that's booming as well. With Indie Grits, ConvergeSE, and POSSCON (The Palmetto Open Source Software Conference) all happening in the same week, Columbia's future certainly looks bright. These three events, along with many others not mentioned here, are uniquely tied to our city and represent a new community of creatives willing to raise the bar for a better Columbia. If this trend continues to grow, we could be looking at the new SXSW within several years.

We look forward to seeing what new creative possibilities arise in our city as it continues to grow taller and wider every day.

What other exciting things are happening around Columbia that we missed?

-Marcus

 

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