Archive for January, 2008

Can I renovate if I never really finished…novating?

A few weeks ago I launched myself into the blogosphere with some ideas in my head as to what kind of content I would include in my blog. Namely, I set up a blog to record my educational and career-related activities and provide a central place to access samples of my work. Last week I moved blog hosts and am in the process of figuring out how to work with WordPress. I’m also endeavoring to incorporate more of my own thoughts and reactions to trends and news within the industries which interest me, as well as simply journaling my reflections on what I’m still in the process of learning in my coursework at the university.

 In the meantime, I’ve been considering what topics will find a home here in my little blog land. Because I’m learning and therefore modifying/expanding my interests every day I can’t commit to specifics, but I assume I will be predominantly discussing the following:

Nonprofit Fundraising and Donor Relations

Design Trends

Event Planning and Hospitality

Public Relations

Advertising

 I’m still on a quest to find a good event planning blog (or three) to follow in hopes of getting a better peek into that industry.

As before, please bear with as I get the hang of this.

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The Value of Planning in Public Relations

I wrote this as part of an assignment in my PR Planning and Problems course, taught by Tom Hagley at the University of Oregon. It was written partly in response to material from his book “Writing Winning Proposals: PR Cases.”

After I was exposed to the process and value of planning, it seemed completely obvious why planning is absolutely necessary in the practice of public relations. Without a plan, how would we know what to do? How would we know when to do it? And how, in the end, would we know that we did well? Without a plan wouldn’t we just be basing our entire operation on guesswork, hunches, assumptions, and improvisations? In retrospect I can say, without a doubt, “well duh!”
So why the stress on planning and the constant reiteration of the importance of creating a plan based on solid research, a firm understanding of the client and situation, and comprising necessary elements like budget, timeline, objectives, and goal? Let me ask this: How often do we do things in life without a plan? Probably very frequently. We don’t formally write up our career goals complete with timeline, analysis of our current situation, and measurable objectives. Nor do we do the same for vacations, shopping trips, or educational courses. Each of these activities might have some form of planning; we might bring a list to the store with measurable objectives like “get eggs,” or we might plan a budget for a vacation. But for many of us we fly by the seat of our pants, relying on our brain to keep us on track and our feelings to tell us whether or not we’re successful at the end. This is all well and good – I’m not advocating writing up a complex plan every time we dash out to the grocery store. But relying on our private, spontaneous brilliance alone does not prepare us to successfully complete a public relations campaign. The client needs to be assured that we fully comprehend the situation. We need to be assured that we understand the situation. We also need guidelines to stay on track and evaluate our progress along the way. Planning forms a foundation to any public relations work, just like it forms a foundation to nearly everything we do in life (we don’t simply find ourselves in Australia, wondering how we got there). The key difference is the necessity of formal, focused planning in public relations practice to ensure the goals of the client (and firm) are not only mutually understood but also achieved.

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Event Design Tip: Think Like A Consultant

I was introduced to this blog by my PR advisor and professor, Kelli Matthews, at the School of Journalism and Communication. This particular post provided me with excellent insight into what it is that I think I want to do. It concerns design in business generally, but I would venture it applies perfectly well to the field of event design. The author, Neil Tortorella, discusses the virtues of thinking and working like a consultant with clients, rather than taking on projects on a one-shot basis. Tortorella explains:

“The thing is, just because a client asks for a whatever, it doesn’t necessarily mean that’s what they really need. By asking questions and digging deep, you can offer ideas that will help your clients meet their goals. You add value to your relationship. You become a needed resource.”
I certainly agree; taking a step back to really evaluate the client’s position, rather than just drafting up a proposal to meet their request, will likely yield more fruitful results, both for the designer AND the client. In turn, this may generate a stronger, mutually-beneficial, and potentially long-term business relationship – something I aspire to continually pursue in my future career.

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Why the Title?

So, this title of mine, what’s that about? Why “A Swallow in Spring”? Well, I was born in April, and my mother likes to say that every year the swallows return for the spring just in time for my birthday. We like to pretend they are flying back to the birdhouse under our roof not in response to the dictation of their migration patterns, but purely to celebrate my birth.

And now, like the swallows, I am gearing up to head back to Portland late this spring to enter into that phase of my life that involves the terrifying and electrifying thought of stepping out into the so-called “real-world.” With this realization comes a barrage of questions. Am I taking the right classes? Am I doing the right activities? Where will I live? Where should I apply for a job? Where can I get a deal on a fabulous interview suit? When all is said and done, will I have what it takes?

That said, the main point of this blog is to present an accurate, interactive, and accessible overview of my academic and personal achievements, characteristics, and experiences, as well as to document this transitional stage from a personal standpoint.

Here’s to a fabulous senior year. Cheers!

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