Explore LSU’s hidden jewel, the Hilltop Arboretum

I’ve found myself driving down the long and winding Highland Road to the LSU Hilltop Arboretum three times. What a beautiful place. Have you been? If you are ever in need of some peace and tranquility, or are simply in need to purchase a few plants to liven up your balcony, Hilltop is surely the place to go. What a charm it is! The hole-in-the-road nature sanctuary can provide college kids or families with a lovely hour or day visit to relax and to become one with nature.

Among its thousands of different plants, it’s really a great place to learn about plants and flowers. Executive Director of the Arboretum Peggy Coates, a delightful and passionate woman, is also an enthusiastic source who loves to have her brain “picked” about her flower knowledge. She recently spoke of the American Beautyberry shrub, which can be found throughout the Arboretum. These shrubs are expected to bloom with beautiful iridescent purple berry clusters during the summer months.

Today, my PR group met with Coates to finalize some of our plans for our project. We are currently creating a campaign to promote the Arboretum that is specifically geared toward the PlantFest! event on October 6th and 7th. (Click here to learn about the past year’s PlantFest!). Our group of five were there to discuss and show her our tactics we have completed already, as well as our ideas for other tactics. Sara has created a beautiful flier that will be used to promote PlantFest! and Emilee has created Hilltop its very own Facebook page and Twitter feed. Kelly is working on a social media release, and Karsten will provide content for Hilltop’s website. Finally, I will be in charge of writing a newsletter and placing a PlantFest! factsheet in the Entertainment section of the Reveille.

Even though there have been some bumps along the way, our group has worked well together, and I believe we are all enjoying the process of promoting the Hilltop Arboretum. At first, we struggled with finding a client who would be willing to work with us in our promotion of the mobile gaming application, SCVNGR. Yet, fate dropped Hilltop into our hands, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity of working with them. I believe our team can provide Hilltop with fresh and progressive ideas, but Hilltop also can provide us an invaluable learning opportunity.

Hilltop is a hidden jewel at LSU, and it holds an abundance of resources. Its paths are yearning to be walked on, its myriad of plants are thirsting to be discovered, and its face of natural beauty wishes to be unveiled to the LSU community. So come out and explore anytime, and don’t forget to mark your calendars for the October PlantFest!

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A circle. The media and the public

First, I would like to dedicate this blog entry to my ethical Media Ethics professor, Craig Freeman, as he has charitably provided me with an excellent topic of discussion, in which I have decided to blog about at once.

Where does a circle begin? There are many circles in life. There are crop circles, the life cycle/circle, circles of trust, friend circles. I think of the media and the public as one big circle. The media’s role is to objectively inform the public, and the public’s role is to soak in this information and evaluate it. Think of these two groups holding hands in one big circle. We are all connected. The media influences the public, but the public also influences the media.

Research and polls are taken every day to determine what the public wants to hear about and see. We must ask, is this driven by profit? If money drives all, then yes, the media might have a little “people pleaser” tendency in it and want to focus on what the public wants to see. For example, do we like to read about Jessica Simpson having a baby, Joey Barton attending an AA meeting, and a wild fan attacking Kim Kardashian with flour? Are you inclined to click on these links? If so, you are a FLUFF NEWS JUNKY 😀 ..Anyway, we might ask- does the media decide to print these stories because it believes these facts are worthwhile and will benefit society? Or, is it because we, the public, want it? If the latter is true, the media might place Kardashians in the spotlight, as this is what will bring in the bucks.

Although money and profit is important, the media’s job is to disseminate information, as well as use appropriate discrimination in order to sift through the important and the unimportant information. After the info is written down in “reader friendly” format, the public is inevitably persuaded and “nudged” into what news and current events to think about.

Let’s take, for example, the 2012 U.S. Presidential Elections. A lot of the coverage is about the horse race. Who’s winning now, who’s expected to win, Santorum gearing up for the next primary, Obama focuses on PA primary, Hermain Cain’s sexual allegations… Oh, and who’s up in the polls? Although exit polls holds its own importance, however, I’d love to hear more about the actual issues and opinions on issues of each candidate, like stances on immigration, how to lead a nation, values etc. I want MEAT, so that I can make an informed decisions on which candidate best fits my beliefs and views. Give me the nice, juicy steak, the BEEF of the issues.

This article is a good example of focusing on the less-important, more “trivial” matters. Take a look. I would rather hear about Santorum’s stance on immigration, or Romney’s plan on how to improve the economy.

With all this said, I believe the public trusts the media with the responsibility of disseminating newsworthy information, however, we might not always think about the level of which the media informs and persuades our thoughts. Now, circling on back, we are all connected. The media must publish information in order to better society and intelligently inform us on the facts, lest we miss out on forming our own individual opinions from objective substance, deeply rooted in facts and truths.

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St. Patrick – pitch him.

Has anyone considered the real story behind St. Patrick’s Day? Amongst the fun, drinking and celebrations of St. Pat’s day, many of us might not have pondered the life of our friend, St. Patrick!

St. Patrick was more than a survivor, he was a trooper. When he was a teenager, he was captured by Irish raiders from his home in Britain and was taken as a  slave to work in Ireland. He finally escaped, after over ten years, and returned to his family. He later was called to return to Ireland. From there, he made it his life goal to convert the pagan people of Ireland to Christianity, and he succeeded.

Letters written by St. Patrick describe him baptizing thousands, converting wealthy women and sons of kings, and ordaining priests to lead new Christian communities in Ireland. St. Patrick’s mission was to bring hope and Christ to the people.

Now, where does PR come into the picture? Well, St. Patrick’s Day is a perfect example of PR campaigns and marketing. Much PR goes into the strengthening of the Guinness brand and promoting bar-scene St. Pat’s Day celebrations.

ANYWAY, St. Patrick, used the three-leafed shamrock to preach the Holy Trinity and was a leader and conquerer of souls. He was strong in his faith, and he understood his mission in life to be about that which he truly believed. We can all do the same if we can pinpoint our calling and our passion. With passion and a goal, nothing can come in the way of reaching that goal.

The point is, St. Patrick is a great example of a great use of putting together a PR campaign, as well as a great role model for us all to live with his example in mind!

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U.S. and Costa Rica Relations

Bananas and coffee are not the only things that should come to mind when Costa Rica is brought up in daily conversation. Why Costa Rica? The relationship between the U.S. and this country of about 4.5 million is considerably an important one.

Any one interested in international public relations would know that the U.S. is Costa Rica’s number one trading partner, accounting for 40 percent of its total imports. The beautiful beaches of Costa Rica may not be the only attraction to Americans, but vacationers, tourists and foreign investors may recognize its potential for valuable investments and money gaining possibilities this country has to offer. In 2001, Costa Rica imported $2.5 billion worth of U.S. goods and services. Perhaps Costa Rica’s physically close proximity to the U.S. is the reason for this close trade relationship.

Investors are especially attracted to the tourism industry in Costa Rica. The industry has contributed toward foreign exchange and a growing relationship between it and the U.S. In 2001, the tourism industry brought in $1.3 billion for the country. Beside tourism, investors and companies are also attracted to Costa Rica’s growing economy. There are free trade zones, which offer benefits such as import duty exemptions on capital goods and raw materials. If you are an investor or exporter, you may be interested in doing some further country and industry market research. With all this said, it’s not surprising that 30,000 U.S. citizens reside in Costa Rica.

Now, one may ask, why would a public relations specialist be interested in this information? Well, it shows the opportunities that Costa Rica may present to a public relations specialist. The above information represents the economic relationship between U.S. and Costa Rica, but also provides a basic insight to the job force in Costa Rica. If you use your personal branding and relationship skills, you may be able to creatively enter this already strong and growing relationship between these two countries.

A list of U.S. companies located in Costa Rica may also be helpful. Although the official language is Spanish, most business professionals speak English. If you have a desire to learn Spanish and discover a new place, I dare you to further investigate this beautiful resource. There are many other places besides the U.S., such as Costa Rica, that happen to offer great business ventures and opportunities.

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Personally brand yourself!

I went up to my old music friend (I used to be a piano major) in the library today. He asked what my major was now, and I told him “public relations.” His response was an interesting one, I must say.

“I wish I could be in something like that, so I could apply what I learn to getting a job,” he said, “You know, taking classes that would help me become more marketable.”

The statement hit me like a hammer on the head, and I think he hit the nail on the head as well. Public relations is one of those fields that can be applied to many different things coming out of college, and the training provides invaluable skills, such as intuition on how to become more marketable to an employer.

In our quick paced and rapidly growing “wink-world” (in a blink of an eye, change occurs), people skills, effective communication, and persistence can sometimes be the perfect combination to lasso a steady job. Not to degrade the importance of obtaining a college degree, however. Any one with real-life working experience may kindly say “no ditto” if they hold an objection to the importance of attaining the skills listed above.

Public relations hones in on certain irreplaceable daily life skills that otherwise might not be touched on while enduring another major. For example, what’s personal branding? A cow’s ears may perk up at the sound of this, and its skin might quiver at the thought of having a blazing hot iron rod pressed to its fur. Have no fear, because personal branding does not require heat or iron when referring to it in public relations terms.

Personal branding is about owning up to who you are and recognizing your strengths andweaknesses. It is about having the ability to present yourself to an audience, (it can even apply to dating) and promoting your greatest qualities to others. Essentially, it’s how we market ourselves to others.

“Always promote your best qualities and down play your flaws, or make them work for you,” said Public Relations Specialist Ann Quasarano in her blog.

Here’s a quick personal branding lesson:

First, keep in mind the laws of personal branding: Authenticity (be yourself), transparency (be honest), and visibility (be known). Now, the steps to building your own personal brand are the following:

1. Discover- Focus on who you are, what you want to achieve in life, your strengths and goals. Tie in your short-term and long-term goals.

2. Create- Create business cards, professional portfolio, resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile, blog, Facebook, Twitter etc. This is how you create your brand. Make sure pictures and words are consistent so you don’t give off mixed messages.

3. Communicate- Promote yourself to the appropriate audiences. Have your story down pat so you are consistent in who you are and what you can offer.

4. Maintain- Your brand must keep up with your own growth. Always be up to date in what you have accomplished and add your treasures to your resumes and other brand paraphernalia. If you’ve received new awards, gotten a new job, or written a new press article, add them. This reflects your brand.

As for me, I’m realizing that there will always be a place for music in my heart and in this world, but the fact is, there isn’t anything more applicable to every day life than public relations. The lessons we learn in class give us tools to carry with us and use every day.  So, begin your brand discovery today, and I shall leave you with this:

Is not the essence of life itself about discovering who you are and about what you can do for others?

P.S. Check out these cool 90 PR Tips !

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Dive in to Public Relations

So many topics. So little TIME. Thoughts go by in a flash. Add them to your blog, and they’ll be captured FOREVER. These cap-faced words are what I think of, in tonality and in meaning, when I think of the Internet. Mr. Net is a professional at taking your time. He also is the most thorough librarian in the world. He can file your thoughts in a second in the biggest stock-file EVER.

It amazes me that the world we live in today is interconnected by this virtual cloud above our heads. Also known as THE Internet. We can socialize with people from all over the world, those whom you may or may not even know! As we click out our words on this board of keys, we only hope that the being on the other end is a human.

On this topic, one aspect of this virtual world that I have not yet completely embraced is this notion of social media.

FACEBOOK is a major TIME waster. Here’s Proof in the pudding that it can even be addictive.

TWITTER- too many tweets, not enough TIME.

LINKEDIN- A good networking tool, but there will be time for that eventually…

How can I find the time make time to converse with people over this “mystery” realm, when I barely have a breath to speak to humans during my day at school?

Oh, horrible thoughts well up in my mind over these priorly listed mind-distracting devilish devices.

BUT, wait. There is still hope for those who can find a spot of air hidden amongst the muggy, mirky gumbo of pictures, links, tweets, and comments. If you are one, Cajun or not, who can swim to the top of this thick reaux, you will be on your way to mastery of these potentially amazing tools. Take control of them and do not let them suffocate you or your time in its opaque soup.

To embark on this challenge you must acquire the following skills: Time-management, Ability to prioritize and build relationships , self-discipline.


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