Thursday, April 30, 2009

Domino's, You Had me at "Free"


Yesterday, Valerie and I went to Domino's Pizza and picked up free lunch. The giveaway was part of a promotion for their new Bread Bowl Pasta. In theory, certain "loyal customers" (read you've signed up for their email list) received notification of the giveaway via email. I actually get emails from Domino's, but I heard about the giveaway from the stupid AIM popup launch page I can't get to go away.

I'd seen a commercial for the Bread Bowl Pasta the day before and actually thought, "ew gross, who would eat that?" Um, yeah, I guess me (and Valerie, too!) if it's free. And you know what? It was delish. It's like a super-thick crust pizza with Alfredo pasta as the topping. And the bread bowl has bread stick seasoning on the edge.

It was totally worth the 15 WW Points for just half the bowl. It was a treat I will remember for a long time. And I'll have to, because for 15 points, I'm never getting one again.

Free does weird things to us. It made me eat a decadent lunch I was actually a bit grossed out by the day before. I found a good summary of "the power of free" here. The concept is discussed in a great book titled Predictably Irrational.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Prepping for Panel

This week I'm prepping to serve on two Readiness Review Panels. The RR panel is the second step in the Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) application/exam. The first step is simply to apply to the Universal Accreditation Board. They decide if you have enough experience to successfully complete the APR exam. Once you're accepted it's time to schedule your panel review.

The panel (3 APRs) review a document prepared by the candidate called the Readiness Review Questionnaire. Candidates answer a series of questions about their experience, strengths and weaknesses. Then we all get together and the candidate presents her portfolio. The panel will ask questions geared toward determining the candidate's knowledge and use of the public relations four-step process. We also access things the written exam can not, like creativity, initiative, flexibility, time management, and presentation skills.

As a former candidate, I can tell you it's a scary undertaking. No matter how many people tell you to relax, you can't. The panel is all or nothing. You advance (meaning you get to move on to take the most difficult written exam of your life) or you do not advance.

It is the panel's job to determine if you are ready to take on the challenge of the written exam. If you are ready, the panel will identify concentrations for your studies and mentor you as you prepare for the exam. If you don't advance the panel will explain why now is not the right time, and what you need to do to adequately prepare for your next try.

I am honored to participate in this process. Earning my APR meant so much to me as a professional, and I'm thrilled to help others achieve this goal.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

APR Flash Cards: Communication Audit

Here's the weekly APR Flash Card.

Category: Research
Front: Communication Audit
Back: Informal, Primary
Pros=accesses alignment with organizations goals, comprehensive evaluation of tools, independent evaluation of plans.
Cons=costly, need thorough definitions and plan, labor intensive, combines the cons of focus groups, interviews and content analysis.

A communications audit is exactly what it sounds like: a collection and review of the communications for a certain project, time frame or organization. In my experience the key to conducting an audit that is worthwhile and doesn't make you pull your hair out, is to clearly define what you are going to include.

In theory, it includes everything. But, fortunately, you get to define "everything." You set the time frame: one month, one year, since the beginning of time. You can look only at items you produced, only items you distributed to certain audiences or through certain media, or you can include items produced by outside sources such as news stories or user-generated content.

In practice, I'm a fan of the communication audit. I think there is a lot to be learned by looking back at what's been done before. I tend to use a communication audit in my research stage if I'm revamping an existing plan, if I'm formalizing a campaign for something that has had little promotion in the past, or if I'm starting a project for an outside organization. I've also participated in communication audits of my own work performed by outside consultants. This was really interesting too. I got to see how a communications professional who was not familiar with my organization perceived my work.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Resume Tips from Bonnie

I've hired several rounds of interns, as well as a full-time employee, and I regularly volunteer to review resumes for students in the OSU public relations program. Over the years, I've seen a lot of really good resumes and some not so good ones. Here are a few tips on what sets a resume apart (for me).

1. If you're submitting electronically, send it as a PDF. A PDF will ensure that the file appears exactly as you want it to appear. When you send a Word document, things can shift and fonts can be replaced. Your beautiful one-page masterpiece could come out 3 lines on to page two and entirely in courier.

2. Make it one page. Anyone who tells you a resume doesn't have to be one page is lying to you. When you've been working for 20 years and are a leader in your field, then your resume can be more than one page. Until then, the only thing you illustrate with a two-page resume is your inability to be concise. (Note: don't confuse a resume with a vitae, which actually should be more than one page)

3. Be consistent. How you format a resume is not as important as formatting consistently. (although in PR we default to AP style on things like titles, capitalization and abbreviations) Be especially careful with punctuation and the format of headings.

4. Proof, proof, proof. Give it to your brother, your roommate, your advisor, the kid sitting next to you on the bus. Make sure your resume is thoroughly proofed. Even one typo can bump you out of the running. The larger the applicant pool is, the pickier reviewers can be.

5. Sell your skills and experience, but don't exaggerate anything. If you are claiming to be an "expert" on anything you better be darn ready to back that statement up. An expert is often defined as the person who knows more about a topic than anyone else in the room. Think long and hard about the experience and knowledge level of the people who will read your resume. Do you still feel comfortable claiming to know more than they do about x, y or z?

6. Put the most important stuff stuff first, and lose the objective statement. We know what your objectives is; it's to get a job.

7. Frame in the terms they use. If the position is seeking someone with community involvement, then make a heading for community involvement. If they want demonstrated leadership, then make a leadership heading. Job listings aren't generic and your resume shouldn't be either.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

89er Day in Guthrie

Yesterday was the 89er Day Parade in Guthrie. John and Sarah were both in the parade, so I went and took pictures. Boy, did I take pictures! Here's a small sample. I'll be posting the best of the best on Flickr soon.

First thing, I tracked down Sarah and Christina.

They got the whole team to come out and pose for photos. Aren't Roller Girls sweet?

The trick ropers were awesome. How cute is this little guy?

And, what's a parade without horses...

...and classic cars...

...and bands...

...and old men on tiny bikes...

...and old men on giant bikes...

Here's John on the Guthrie Noon Lion's float.

Hooray, it's the Roller Derby! Sarah and Christina are tossing candy to their adoring fans.

Of course, at the end of the day, there were a few pieces of candy no one wanted.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Bow Wow Luau

John hasn't even been sworn in yet and already the Councilman benies are coming in. Today, we were comped two tickets to the Bow Wow Luau.

We were already planning to go to the Luau, and one of John's friends told an organizer we were interested. Bam, free tickets. I should actually say "free" tickets because John and I are planning on writing a check at the event that will more than cover the $20 for the two tickets. But still, it kind of makes you feel all warm and fuzzy that someone wanted you especially to be there.

And who wouldn't want to be there?! It's going to be awesome. The Luau is May 16 at 6 pm; Dr. Anna, one of the super duper bestest vets ever, is hosting. There is going to be a pig roast (even as a flexitarian, I'm intrigued to see this!), an auction, door prizes, hula girls, and cocktails ($10 tickets and there are drinks? Score). All the proceeds from the tickets and the auction go to support the low cost spay and neuter program in Guthrie.

I know, I know, now you're thinking "Gosh, Bonnie, I want to go to the Bow Wow Luau." Well, you can. Stop by the Guthrie Pet Hospital or the Emporium in downtown Guthrie and pick up your $10 tickets. And Dr. Anna is so nice, I'd bet if you wanted to just call the Pet Hospital (at 405-28-8796) and make reservations, they'd let you pay at the door.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Tough Questions about Giving

On Thursday, Valerie and I joined Chad (the Library's Director of Development), Linda Anthony (Library Board Member) and about 200 others to see Jackie Joyner-Kersee.

Women for OSU, Leadership and Philanthropy hosted the event. So, giving back was obviously a big theme. Over lunch every table was given a list of discussion questions. I was pleasantly surprised that the list actually resulted in some interesting lunch chat. Here what they asked us:

What people, experiences, and institutions have had the most impact on your life and in what ways have they influenced you?
At our table, there was definitely a theme of family and mentors.

Please think about your personal values. Would you say your giving (time, treasure, and talent) matches up with your values?
I, personally, hadn't thought of it this way. Everyone seemed to be able to draw a connection to values and giving. Everyone seemed to give back to the "community" that had impacted them, the city community, a school or a program or an organization that supports an issue impacting their family.

Have you considered what you desire your philanthropic legacy to be? What steps led you to this vision of your legacy?
I had never really thought about my "giving legacy" until this question. Surprisingly, everyone a the table admitted they had never thought about legacy either, but we had a great talk about it. The basic theme I heard from everyone was that they wanted to impact people. They wanted to help the community that had helped them. They wanted to inspire others in the ways they had been inspired.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Mobile Blogging Take Two

So, here's my second attempt at mobile blogging. My first try was much more clever than this one, but that's ok because I'm pretty sure the spell check changed all references of "blogging" to "blotting."

If this works I'll be quite impressed with myself, and it'll greatly increase the chances of some "live from Ireland" posts this summer.
Sent on the Now Network� from my Sprint® BlackBerry

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

APR Flash Cards: Opinion v. Belief v. Value v. Attitude

Here's the APR tip of the week. This one is actually 4 flash cards in one post.

Category: Terms
Front: Opinion
Back: A view, judgment or appraisal formed in the mind about a particular matter.

Front: Belief
Back: Mental acceptance of a claim as fact.

Front: Value
Back: Something intrinsically valuable or desirable

Front: Attitude
Back: A mental position with regard to a fact or state; a feeling or emotion toward a fact or state.

I think these can be some of the hardest terms to apply correctly. Try to apply it, and you'll see why.

Let's take the issue of gay marriage. I think gay marriage should be legalized. This is my opinion; I've mentally made this judgment. That judgment is based on a belief (since it is not a proven fact) that people are born gay, and a personal value placed on equal human rights. All of this is tied up in my general attitude (a feeling about things) that being gay is ok.

Wow, wish I could have come up with a less controversial example, but there it is!

If you're prepping for the APR exam, be prepared to identify statements as being an opinion, a belief, a value, or an attitude.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

PR Open Mic Goes Orange

This week, a PR class from OSU is taking over the social network site PR Open Mic. I swung by this morning just to see how it's going. First off, the site has literally "gone orange." The class rebranded the homepage to reflect the OSU take over. Go Pokes!

The students have already posted video interviews and several articles and forum topics. They have given each day this week a theme. Monday was "What is PR today?" Today they look at "How do I find my niche?" Wednesday will be "What’s going on today in PR and how can I use it?" On Thursday, it's "How can I find a job and what is the right way to network?"

Friday will be a special “Throw what you know” day where the class will highlight OSU and encourage other members to do the same for their organization/school.

If you work in PR, or are just curious about the field, stop by PR Open Mic and see what students, teachers and professionals are talking about today.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Today Was Ruthless


Today was Ruth's first day at her big girl job which means it was our first day in a long time with no Ruth in the office. The fact that Ruth has moved on hadn't really hit home until I got to the office this morning. Suddenly, I realized Ruth doesn't work here anymore. It was a lot sadder than I thought it would be.

Don't get me wrong. I am so happy for her, and really proud that she's done so well for herself. I hope I did a good job getting her ready for the big bad world.

In honor of Ruth, her are a few things I learned from her:
1. Ideas are like whores. If one isn't working for you, there is always another.
2. Convert to printer spreads (where was that feature my whole life!!)
3. I have a freakishly functional relationship with my siblings. (who knew?)
4. Don't clean out the fridge. It's just not worth it.
5. A good attitude goes a long long way.

So congratulations, Ruth! I hope you've found a good fit, it certainly seems like you have. As for the Library, an office without Ruth is like... Well, it's like a really really quiet office.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

74 days and Counting!

In just over 3 months, hubby and I are heading off to a week-long vaca in Ireland. We are so super psyched!

I'm enjoying my typical over planning. This weekend I built a custom Google map, and as we go I'm adding markers for attractions we might see, places we might eat and side trip outside of Dublin (our main destination). If I could actually figure out how to can a link for it, I'd share it with you.

I've also set up an itinerary for one whole day. We're so excited. Want to know how much of a planning freak I am? Here's a greatly abridged version of what we'll do on the 3rd day of our trip.

Any AM Take the DART to Howth (end of the line) about 45 minutes

~10 AM Stop at a sandwich shop located across the street when you get off the train in Howth. The climb to the Ben of Howth (Ben = Highest Point) takes less than an hour. Tromp around and admire the views. Bray's Head, the most predominant land mass in the distance, is especially eerie in misty weather.

After walking various paths that branch out from the Ben, retraced your steps to end up at the pier for a chilly view of the Irish Channel. Continue uphill again, but this time along the coast.

Ask a local about the walk to the Summit. The Summit footpath, a local favorite, is a spectacular coastal walk, uphill of course, but the Summit Pub is the reward. The path narrows to 2 feet in width, with a 300-foot drop-off close by. There is wind and seagulls, the requisite lighthouse, and enough craggy outcroppings to keep two hikers focused. After a pint, hike down to the train station.

~5 PM Take the “All Stations to Bray” train or the “All Stations to Greystones” train. Exit at Clontraf Road

~6 PM The Bram Stoker Dracula Experience

~7 PM Head to Temple Bar
OPT 1: Walking to Temple Bar Music Centre (3.7 km – about 47 mins)

OPT 2: Return to Clontraf Rd Station and Ride to Tara St. Station then walk to Temple Bar .7km about 9 minutes.



~10 PM Return to Tara St. Station and catch “All Stops to Bray” or “All Stops to Greystones” train. Get off at Dun Laoghaire, our home base.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

In Training! Guthrie Clear Water Ride Here I Come!


John and I are officially registered for the inaugural Guthrie Clear Water Ride. The ride takes place on Saturday, May 16. It begins in downtown Guthrie at 8 a.m. You can register for an 18, 35, 55 or 65 mile ride.

The money raised by the Guthrie Clear Water Ride will go towards the construction of our new water treatment plant. Our current plant is outdated and performing well below capacity. The new plant is slated for completion in 2010 and will cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $10.2 million. That's a pretty steep price tag for small financially struggling town.

I am quite proud of our community for coming together in such a creative way to help the city. Even if you're not from Guthrie, you should think about dusting off your bicycle and coming down to our beautiful little town. It's going to be a nice ride through the country, and you can get your civic engagement on.

It's been a long time since I've rode an extended distance, so John and I opted for the 18-mile ride. Looks like it's time to pull the bike out of winter storage and start training.

If you want to join us, you can register online. Early bird fee (deadline April 30) is $20, or $30 for a tandem.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Welcome to the Bonnie-pire, Marissa

Somewhere along the way, my steadily growing staff became affectionately known (within our office, at least) as the Bonnie-pire. For the longest time, the Communications Office of the OSU Library was just little ole me. Then we added a PR intern for just one semester a year. I hired Heather Lynn to help with my summer planning and prep. She was an ideal first employee.

The following year, I was given a wage budget sufficient to fill the internship for two semesters, and Walter joined my team. Another big win for my hiring record. The following year, I added a part-time graphic designer to the mix, and Ruth has filled that spot for about two years. Germaine, Maggie and Danny have all had a turn at the PR Internship, and Valerie joined the team as my full-time PR technician. Every one of them made a lasting impact on the way we communicate with our public and conduct our day-to-day work.

Each semester, I learn so many new things from the students and staff that join my team. I hope they can say the same about working with me. That's why I'm super excited to welcome Marissa to the Bonnie-pire. She won't start until the fall semester, but I can't wait to see what this bright and charismatic young woman has to bring to the table.

Welcome, Marissa!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

I Can't Wait to Read...

Our next vacation is just 38 days away and for me it can't come fast enough. John is headed to Austin to pick up the NISOD Teaching Award and attend the conference. It's over my birthday weekend, so I'm tagging along.

While we're there, we will be taking in some Austin highlights. But, what I'm most excited about is just getting out of town and kicking back at the pool with a good book, or two, or three. Here are few books I hope to pick up for the trip:
When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris
This one I am debating whether I want the actual book for poolside or the audio version for the car ride there. Sedaris reads his own audio books and it adds so much to have the author recite his autobiographical tales.

A Wolf at the Table by Augusten Burroughs
I double plus heart Augusten Burroughs. If your only exposure to his work is the movie version of his memoir, Running with Scissors, you are missing out. Run to your local library or fave book retailer and grab Scissors, now. Then you'll see why I'm so excited to get my hands on this.

Real Vampires Get Lucky by Gerry Bartlett
Disclaimer: File this under guilty pleasure. This is a series (and I adore it!). I save it for trips like this when I want something fun, fluffy, and guaranteed to not make me think. It's a total beach book. It will be perfect for sipping pina coladas under my pool umbrella.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Puppy Performs so I Don't Have To

This is not lazy blogging. It's an experiment to learn how to post my own video to the blog. During the 30-day blogging challenge, you're also likely to see me learn to mobile blog and learn to post a youtube video.

video

Awesome. What other blogging tricks should I learn?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

APR Flash Card: PR defined

As I prepared for my APR examination in 2007, I developed an extensive set of APR flash cards. I carried the cards with me everywhere in the weeks leading up to the exam, and grabbed a few minutes of study every chance I could. I still look over the cards occasionally. They are a nice reminder of something that makes me very proud: my APR, and they help keep fresh all the tidbits of information I deemed worthy of a flash card.

Here's your APR flash card of the day.
Category: Terms
Front: Public Relations
Back:
1. The various activities and commuications that organizations undertake to monitor, evaluate, influence and adjust to the attitudes, opinions and behaviors of groups/individuals who constitute their publics.
2. Helping an organization and its publics adapt mutually to one another.
3. Systematic communication of an organization with its publics.

Since studying for the APR exam, I've developed my own personal definition of PR. It borrows bits and pieces from other definitions and smooshes them together in way that defines PR for me. Public relations is the research, planning, communication and evaluation that continually propels an organization and its public toward a state of improved mutual understanding and respect.

Agree? Disagree? What's your definition of PR?

Monday, April 13, 2009

30 Day Office Blogging Challenge

Last week, I was telling the office crew about my cousin's wife's recent 30-day blogging challenge. Inspiration hit and three of us made a pact to do our own month-long blogging marathon. None of us are particularly consistent bloggers, so it seemed like the perfect way to get in the habit.

April 13 to May 13, 30 days, 30 blogs, that is our goal. If you participate in the NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) you can download a badge for your blog. Since, like Jamie, we are starting in the middle of a month, we won't qualify for an April badge or a May badge. So I am going to make my own badge, a I-Blogged-Every-Day-For-a-Randomly-Selected-30-Day-Period badge.

If you want to join us, post your blog's URL in the comments. We'll check in on you to keep you honest. And, I encourage you to click over to Ruth (http://muddypebbles.blogspot.com) and Valerie (http://vtrammell.blogspot.com/). They are funny ladies, I think you'll enjoy.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Who I Met at Work Today

We oversee a variety of programs and meetings in the Library Communication/Public Programming Office. One benefit that comes with this work is the opportunity to meet some interesting (and often well-connected) people. Here are some examples of people my staff and I have met the past few years:

The Big Wigs
Each fall we host an author for our annual fundraising dinner. In 2008, we featured T. Boone Pickens. My staff escorted Mr. Pickens throughout the day and also spent some time visiting with Jay Rosser, Mr. Pickens' publicist. In past years, the Cobb Speaker Series has brought in Frank Deford, S.E. Hinton and Kurt Vonnegut, just to name a few. See the complete list here: http://www.library.okstate.edu/friends/cobb/previous.htm.

Politicians

Our events and meetings also provide the occasional opportunity to meet politicians. The Mayor and other city officials, OSU Regents, State Senators and Representatives are just some of the VIPs you might meet at a Library function.

Local Celebrities

I define a "local celebrity" as someone you could easily see at the grocery store, but you still get kind of excited when it happens: the University President and First Lady, OSU coaches and athletes, even Pistol Pete. Every so often, our programming and outreach efforts bring us in contact these folks.

Professionals in the Industry

Last, but certainly not least, we have several chances each semester to meet and network with other PR professionals. My staff has met local pros like Gary Shutt (OSU Communications), Sam Sims (Jones PR), Dustin Pyeatt (Oklahoma Blood Institute), Becky Endicott (OSU Foundation), and even a few industry biggies like Ed Schipul and Peter Shankman.


Wow, kind of makes you want to apply for my internship, huh?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Four Reasons You Want to be my Intern

Today, I listed an opening for my fall 2009 Communications Internship. We sent the typical announcements—PRSA Job Line, email to Brooks Garner’s listserve, listing on the Library’s job site—but, I’m kind of excited to see what kind of increased interest we can get by utilizing some social media promotions as well.

This year, I’m also using Twitter (my account, the Library’s account, creative use of hashtags, and hopefully some retweets from PRSSA_OSU and some past interns), Facebook (status updates, notes, shared links, and again hopefully a little love from PRSSA and some Bonnie-pire members), and here on my very own zero-traffic blog.

If you are looking for an internship in PR, this is why you want to work for me.

1. I get that you are a student first.
The great thing about all the student positions at the Library is that we understand that job 1 is being a student, everything else is secondary. You are at OSU to get a degree and we are here to help, not hinder.

2. My internship is built for learning.
The point of an internship is to learn, that’s why it’s eligible for course credit. The library’s communications internship is designed to teach you the fundamentals of PR and allow you to experience first-hand how a PR office operates. I’ve had more than one intern tell me they learn the most by just being in the office, seeing the kind of issues that arise on a daily basis and how we handle them. You’ll also be able to take advantage of the professional development we participate in as an office. I offer to host my interns at one PRSA-OKC meeting a semester, we have monthly meetings where we share new research, and we regularly subscribe to webinars and teleseminars.

3. The internship is customizable.
In the communications internship you will spend the majority of your time (50-80%) writing for a variety of media: press release, web, newsletters, ad copy, blurbs, Twitter, and more. The remaining time is spent developing skills you are most interested in learning. My interns have given media interviews, talked to donors, developed web pages, pitched stories, written promotion plans, laid out publications. The point is, you, in part, will decide what you’ll be learning.

4. I place students I want to mentor.
I take a personal interest in my interns, and I want to see them succeed. I do this in a variety of ways. In the first week of your internship, we’ll debrief your interview. I’ll tell you candidly what you did well and what you could do better. I want you to know what interview skills to keep and what you’ll need to brush up on before the next. Throughout the semester we’ll discuss career goals and steps you can take to put you on that career path. At the conclusion of your contract, I’ll help you build a resume that will accurately highlight the skills you’ve learned and build a portfolio of the pieces you created. You’ll leave the internship with a CD or zip drive of all your work and copies of all your clippings from the internship.

If you're ready to apply, follow the "internship" link at http://www.library.okstate.edu/personnel/index.htm and follow the instructions.