How Social Media is Reshaping News

The way we receive our daily news today is extremely different than the way we received it just a decade ago. Social media is the fastest growing delivery service of our local, national and world news and can be received in mere seconds. As receivers to such news we must do our own homework to make certain the overload of news we are receiving is truthful and the sources are reputable. At any given time of the day you can log into your social media account and find many of your friends have shared news feeds which can be intriguing to you. You may find yourself clicking on their shared stories to find out more. This is exactly what is happening today.

According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, findings show of the 64% of all US adults that have a Facebook account nearly half are getting their daily news from the social media site. Although social media is not the top source of news for Americans, it is growing fast and Facebook is leading the way with YouTube and Twitter not far behind.2_Social-media-as-a-pathway-to-news

Personally I use my Facebook page to post events that I am hosting or involved with but I do occasionally find myself clicking on shared news stories from the site. I believe those who share stories want to be the first one to release it to their friends or maybe they found the story personally interesting or disturbing. The Pew Research Center’s findings also indicated that of the social media news sharers, nearly 50% shared or reposted news stories, images or videos on their news feeds and of those that news 73% of the news on Facebook is of entertainment with community news close behind.

The findings I most connected with the study are how US adults discuss news events on social media. The study gave an example of if the topic of the government surveillance programs came up in several different settings, such as at the dinner table, out with friends at a restaurant, at work, and asked how willing would you be to join in the conversation in person verses sharing thoughts on social media sites. The results shown below did not surprise me as I do not share my true feelings of highly controversial topics online even though I may have a strong moral viewpoint. I steer clear of these topics online because there is no clear way to know how your audience will perceive your message which can upset others and cloud their view of message or judge you in a manner you did not intend.


Technology is forever evolving and while social media allows us to access news at our fingertips at any given time of the day the information can be untrue, misguided or taken out of context at times as well. So my advice to you is to be wary of what articles and information you share and do more research on the articles you are viewing as sometimes such information is just too good to be true.


Indiana State University “Hoops for Hope” Basketball Game Highlights Cancer Awareness

ISU “Hoops For Hope” Basketball Game Highlights Cancer Awareness


ISU student project turns Indiana State University men’s basketball game into a cancer awareness fundraising event.

TERRE HAUTE, IN  Nov. 27, 2012 – Indiana State University athletics is teaming up with the American Cancer Society to host a Hoops for Hope cancer awareness fundraiser during the ISU men’s basketball game against the University of New Mexico Saturday, December 1, 2012 tipping off at 2:05pm at Hulman Center 200 North 8th Street, Terre Haute, Indiana 47809.

Doors will open at 12:30pm and Sycamore fans are encouraged to wear blue and come early as ISU student volunteers will be promoting cancer awareness by handing out cancer preventative information, giveaways and accepting donations.  All donations will go to the American Cancer Society and attendees who donate will receive a chance to win an opportunity to shoot from half-court to win the grand prize during half-time. There will also be a new book sale with all proceeds going to the American Cancer Society.

The Hoops for Hope event was formed by a group of ISU students that needed to create an awareness campaign for a class project.  “We wanted to promote an event incorporating ISU athletes with the intent of making a big impact on our community”, says Cody Zimmerman, Sycamore student.  Rachel Romas, American Cancer Society Representative, added, “We were thrilled the students selected our organization to support.” “We hope this will turn into an annual event.” All ISU coaches and staff will be donning an American Cancer Society pin on their lapels displaying their support.

For tickets to the Hoops for Hope game, call (812) 237-3737 or 1-877-ISU-TIXS. More information about the American Cancer Society can be found online at

For nearly 100 years, the American Cancer Society (ACS) has worked relentlessly to save lives and create a world with less cancer and more birthdays. Together with millions of our supporters worldwide, we’re helping people stay well, helping people get well, finding cures, and fighting back against cancer.


PR Gaffe…Good for Ellen, Bad for Mutts

In October 2007, Ellen Degeneres appeared in rare form on her show The Ellen DeGeneres Show very emotional delivering a direct message to a pet adoption agency that made one of the biggest PR gaffes of the year. It all stemmed from Ellen and her wife Portia de Rossi wanting to extend their family with a new puppy. Ellen and Portia adopted a dog named Iggy from a nonprofit agency called Mutts and Moms based out of Pasadena, California which rescues dogs and finds them a new loving home. Iggy had a rough time adjusting to the new home with their 3 cats and even Ellen’s dog trainer Zack Grey, who worked with Iggy during 12 days of obedience training, couldn’t teach him to get along with their cats and together Ellen and Portia had to make the ultimate decision to find another home for Iggy.

It didn’t take long for Ellen to decide who would be a better fit for Iggy. Ellen believed she had found Iggy the perfect loving new home when she gave Iggy to her long time makeup artist Cheryl which has 2 young daughters of her own. But when Marina Baktis, cofounder of Mutts and Moms, called a few weeks later to check in on Iggy Ellen told her the truth about giving Iggy away which started a whirl wind of the PR fiasco.

Ellen’s plea to Mutts and Moms to give Iggy back

According to the People Magazine’s article, when adopting Iggy, Ellen signed a contract that stated she could not give the adopted dog to anyone else. When Baktis visited Iggy’s new home she took the dog away from Cheryl and her daughters and returned Iggy back to the agency where he was later placed into a new home stating DeGeneres broke the contract and Baktis was following their policy. There was a major out lash from Ellen fans and Baktis received numerous calls, letters and even death threats. This led Mutts and Moms to temporarily shut down their operation and lawyers of Baktis made a statement that it had taken an emotional toll on her as well.

Although Mutts and Moms made it through the controversy it took years to overcome one of the biggest PR gaffes of the year. Mutts and Moms are still in operation.

Crisis Communication before/during/after Hurricane Katrina…What Went So Wrong?

Picture provided by Dr. Susanna Priest, College of Mass Communications and Information StudiesAccording to Wikipedia crisis communication is sometimes considered a sub-specialty of the public relations profession that is designed to protect and defend an individual, company, or organization facing a public challenge to its reputation. When there is a break in communication before, during and after a crisis this can mean disaster. In late August 2005, Hurricane Katrina was proof of this which officials still use this catastrophe as a reference of how what needs to be improved on for future disasters.

What did go so wrong in the first place? According to state, local and federal agencies knew the big storm was going to hit and they spent the weekend before the storm in almost non-stop conference calls — making sure all the plans for food, water and security were in place. But even before the storm hit, some of the plans started to fall apart. National Guard troops in other states sat ready, waiting for orders that never came. Instead, they were told to wait for an official plan and a chain of command to be established. When they finally received an official order to deliver supplies, the delivery point was miles off of where the most help was needed. It seriously all came down to red tape.

While reading through the many reports of failed communication before, after and during Katrina from stories such as the one I found by Information Today, communication gaps where due mostly in part from damaged lines, no cell service, no internet and all powers of communication completely lost. But the bigger picture was that no one felt they had the power to cut through the red tape and step up to call out orders. Seems officials had so much bureaucracy to go through and that needed to change. Our government at all levels completely failed and its public lost faith.

President George W. Bush stated “This government will learn the lessons of Hurricane Katrina. We are going to review every action and make necessary changes so that we are better prepared for any challenge of nature, or act of evil men, that could threaten our people”. The White House published a “lessons learned” report in which they re-evaluated how this county can survive the next big disaster with a strong communication plan using Katrina as a model of what not to do.

Recently with the Hurricane Sandy disaster the communication was much better. President Obama stated “We will cut through red tape. We are not going to get bogged down with a lot of rules.” The state and local government levels did not have to wait for federal government to deliver orders. Emergency assistance and supplies were received quickly, communication gaps were tightened and cleanup efforts are well on their way.

Overcoming disaster is difficult but not learning from the past can be catastrophic. There are still many improvements that can be made but we are well on our way.

National Football League Brings Awareness to Breast Cancer

Picture provided by

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and if you are a National Football League (NFL) fan you know happens next.  The NFL, its clubs, players and the NFL Players Association come together and to support the fight against breast cancer. The campaign A Crucial Catch, in partnership with the American Cancer Society (ACS), is focused largely on the importance of annual screenings, especially for women who are 40 and older. The creation of this great awareness campaign was ingenious as it reaches millions of viewers every year to remind woman to get their check ups regularly.   It also happens to combine both my passions in life, football and fighting cancer.

Throughout October, NFL games will feature players, coaches and referees wearing pink game apparel, play with special game balls and the fields bare the pink ribbon stencils all to help raise awareness for this important campaign. All apparel worn at games by players and coaches, along with special game balls and pink coins will be auctioned off at NFL Auction.  Proceeds benefiting the ACS’s Community Health Advocates National Grants for Empowerment (CHANGE) program. The CHANGE program provides outreach and breast cancer screenings to women in underserved communities.

Since its founding in 2009, the NFL has raised over $3 million dollars through A Crucial Catch for the American Cancer Society. All 32 teams are currently participating in the program. Some NFL players even go above and beyond raising more funds by hosting fundraisers through other vaious creative ways. Take Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald for example.  Larry lost his mother to breast cancer in 2003 and he uses social media such as Facebook and Twitter to gain followers by donating 25 cents per every new “like” or “follower” he gets during the month of October. For more information on Larry’s personal experience with breast cancer, click here to watch a video on

Reports recently came out by The Huffington Post stating only 5% of the proceeds from A Crucial Catch program goes to the ACS. Although these numbers seem low, millions of dollars have been raised and more importantly million of lives will be saved by having these outreach programs it supports.  Breast cancer is no joke and stastics shows that the chance of a woman having invasive breast cancer some time during her life is about 1 in 8.  Personally I don’t like these odds so we have a lot more work cut out in the future. My beautiful mother Sandy battled breast cancer and will be celebrating another birthday this November because of great programs like this.  She is now 6 years cancer free.

Me and my mom Sandy

Create an Amazing Press Release and Get Noticed

by NS Newsflash

What’s worse than a bland press release? A press release that doesn’t get picked up from any of your intended media outlets. I hate to sound so harsh but when you produce crap basically you will get crap in return. You must have something that catches the eye of your local media to turn it into a newsworthy story.  Your event and/or establishment may depend on it!  So I have put together some ways to produce an amazing press release that is sure to get picked up by your media sources.First you must know the medium you want use to send out your press release i.e. fax, email or print. Then gather who your contact’s will be and get their information and make a list of your intended recipients. Make sure to think about sending it to online media and include links to provide more ways for your audience to find information on your produce/event. Watch this great video posted by  to gain more customers using press releases online:

Multimedia Press Release – Tip #26 – Internet Marketing for Small Business

Let’s keep these next steps simple and to the point much like how your press release needs to be.  Pick a catchy yet informative title that will grab and hold the attention of your audience. Make sure to keep the first paragraph brief, clear and to the point but include all the vital information: the where, when, why, what and who. Press releases should never be more than one page.

The last paragraph will be dedicated to your contact details. Always include a primary contact name, phone number, address, email and website address.  You can also end your submission with a mission statement or quote to make a lasting impression.

Remember who your audience is and speak to them using knowledge and passion of your product/event. Include details or facts to spark curiosity in following paragraphs. A good press release not only informs but teases as well.

Editing is one of the most important things you can do before submitting your press release. Your submission should be 100% error free and grammatically correct.  Double check your work and have someone else look it over. Use spell check often and try not to be repetitive in your vocabulary. Dust off your thesaurus and remember to utilize words that everyone can understand. Keep your audience in mind and speak to them using their language but don’t exclude potentially interested customers by using acronyms or too many terms which may confuse those who are not familiar with your product/organization.

I didn’t want to spend too much time on going through formatting but it is a vital piece of the process in producing an amazing press release.  I have added this example from for you to review.  Remember to end your submission by entering the # symbol three times centered at the bottom of the page to indicate the end of your release. I found some helpful tips at that you may want to check out to gain furture insight on creating your submission.

That’s it my friends. You can totally pull this off and promote your product/event with ease and insure success having the media on your side.  Make sure to personally send a thank you note to the media contacts who pick up your story and publish it. This will build a positive relationship and could pose helpful with future promotions. A email thank you is suffice.

Your amazing press release is ready to submit. 

Key Elements to a Successful Public Relations Campaign

Hand Shake photo courtesy of Microsoft Photo File

Two weeks ago our county successfully wrapped up another year for our Relay For Life campaign by hosting the 2012 Relay For Life Sponsorship Luncheon to thank our wonderful sponsors that donated time and money for cancer research and awareness. I was honored to be the 2012 Chairperson for the event and quite frankly am exhausted but very proud of our accomplishments.  Our Relay For Life event was held in July one of the hottest months on record yet we managed to raise over $44,000 for our local American Cancer Society chapter. How did we do it? I have put together some researched factors along with my own strategies that hopefully you will find important when running a marketing campaign for your event.  No matter how big or small you must follow these elements to build a strong PR campaign for your event.

First key factor is knowing your audience. Of course our audience is current cancer patients, cancer survivors and caregivers of cancer patients. In the county I live in this can include almost everyone I know in one way or another. We have five cancer treatment centers, 2 major hospitals and various ocologists in the county working dilegently to treat cancer patience in the area.

Make it personal. Be sure when targeting your audience you are conveying your message by sharing a personal story or connection to bring your audience something personal that they can connect with. I wrote about my best friend passing away of lung cancer last year. This showed my compassion and personal  connection of why I want to stomp out cancer and raise awareness.

Choose your media. There are many tools that can assist you in this area. Utilize the local news stations, newspaper, radio, and all social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook, Google + and more.

Be trustworthy and honest. Your audience will respect you if you are upfront and honest with what message you are trying to get out there. Stay consistent with your values.  Research is key and stay on task with what you are presenting. A helpful insight to these points can be found at 10 Key Elements of Effective Public Relations Campaigns and Bonus Download by Caroline Jaffe-Pickett.  Caroline was most helpful to me when I was running our 2012 Relay For Life campaign.

Stay positive and do your research.  You can do it!

Why Research Before Blogging on a Hot Topic?


Research picture provided by The Solo Guide

Great question don’t you think?  When I first learned that we will be creating a blog in my Introduction to Public Relations class I was stoked to say the least. This was going to be my outlet for my thoughts, feelings and my own creative take on the world! But I soon found out that to properly post information that others are going to read, it really must be honest, true and properly researched first, not just my own perspectives on things.  Well this just took the air out of my tires if you know what I mean but I understand why.

One day I hope to be working in the profession of public relations so I must learn the importance of research now.  Some PR practitioners credit communication and strategy as the most valuable skills in their field. You cannot put those skills to good use without a foundation of research and information gathering. I will need a strong foundation to start from, a building block if you will so I must properly research my client, target audience or whomever I am trying to reach before posting my blog. Not only will I need to research my audience but the content of my blog must contact facts and site appropriate linked information.

According to an article I read posted from PRFriend on the importance of research stated there are various types of research involved in PR, such as market research, industry research, news tracking, and competitive analysis. Each project requires different research methods, but one thing is constant: all PR projects involve research to some extent. Some ways that research can help improve PR practice is to know your client, find your market, choose your media and make your pitch.  Sounds easy but there is so much that goes into it that is very time consuming.  Stay patient as research is extremely important to the livelihood of the message or product you are trying to promote.

I volunteer for a nonprofit called Downtown Terre Haute, Inc. (DTH) which was established to preserve, create and promote a downtown neighborhood that is a vibrant hub for business, entertainment, government, arts and educational activity, attracting both local residents and area visitors to the downtown Terre Haute area. A recent website called was launched in 2011 from what had started as a group of students from a marketing class at Indiana State University conducting a research study for DTH to find out how many people lived within a 100 mile radius to Terre Haute to assist the nonprofit with better promoting businesses within the Downtown Terre Haute area. Their results provided insight on their audience that could be potential customers to the local markets. This information gathered to further help establish future businesses to the area as well.

All research no matter how big or small is extremely vital to public relations. Good luck with your research!

A Sit Down Conversation with Lorrie Heber, Public Relations/Communications Leader in Terre Haute, IN

Lorrie Heber via Linked In

Recently, I had the privilege to sit down with one of the most respected professionals within the Public Relations field in the Terre Haute, IN area. Her name is Lorrie Heber, President of Trailblazer Communications. Lorrie is an accomplished, creative and results-driven communications and marketing professional with more than 25 years of progressive experience primarily in hospitals and healthcare. She is recognized as a multi-faceted leader consistently elevating the organization and its community in a competitive and rapidly changing environment. Lorrie is especially strong in the realms of internal and external stakeholder relations, key message development and delivery, and brand management.

She knew at an early age she would be in public relations. In the 60’s she moved with her family to Terre Haute, IN where her father was sales manager of a local a radio station. Lorrie assisted with his business by editing commercials, working on sales strategies and assisting with daily programming needs. She attended Indiana State University (ISU) in the Radio-Television-Film program ISU offered at the time but soon discovered she was not meant to become an on air personality so she altered her major to Speech Communications with a minor in Marketing. She later pursued a Master’s Degree in Leadership Development at St. Mary-of-the-Woods College in 2008.

Lorrie held a few positions at Union Hospital over 20 years she was employed with them which all positions were in the Marketing/Communications/Public Relations field.  While at the hospital one of her cherished accomplishments was successfully navigating a community debate including City Council regarding the closure of a city street for the construction and opening of three major building projects including a $178 million hospital expansion completed in 2010. Union Hospital East Now Open Commerical is one of many great promotional videos that Lorrie created and posted to the my union hospital Channel on YouTube that will give you a sense of the magnitude of projects Lorrie worked on while Director of Communications/Marketing at Union Hospital.

After many years of building her career in a fast past environment, Lorrie decided to start working for herself. Currently President/Owner of Trailblazer Communications she stated her daily routine changed drastically and not all for the worst. After I had a clear understanding on where Lorrie got her start and built her career, I wanted to learn more about her take on the Public Relations profession.

Lorrie explained that in the PR profession there is not a typical work week. Making phone calls, networking, researching the internet, writing, and organizing herself are just a few things Lorrie spends a big part of her day. She keeps current in the PR industry by gaining memberships in her field such as being a member of the Public Relations Society of America (PSRA), attends many conferences and reads articles on the internet. Lorrie mentioned the true PR profession is very limited in this area of the Midwest especially in Terre Haute. She wishes that could change in the near future.

“Writing is the most important skill you can have in my line of work”, Lorrie stated. She went on to add that she journals every day and practices writing to strengthen that skill. She then gave a few tips for me as she knows I am green in this field and need some helpful hints. The three main guidelines Lorrie gave me are to volunteer within my community, stay updated within my field and make sure you know how to explain the history/proof of the skill set(s) you say you bring to the table. Lorrie also added not to overextended myself. She said that I need to understand by saying yes to one thing, I am saying no to something else. This has really opened my eyes and made me really think about this profession in a new light. She stressed that balance is a key factor in the success to this field.

Lorrie sits on several Board of Directors of nonprofit organizations within the Terre Haute community. She most recently was the 2012 Susan G. Komen Wabash Valley Race for the Cure Chairperson as she is also a breast cancer survivor since 2006. After spending over 2 hours with Lorrie, I have realized Communications/Public Relations within a nonprofit organization is exactly what I want to with my career. I can use my passion for cancer awareness combined with my skills in PR to build a platform to spread the word to the world and hopefully one day have a world without cancer. To find out more about Lorrie Heber visit her Linked In page at Lorrie Heber LinkedIn. This by far was one of the most powerful discussions over coffee I have ever had.

Tweet Me….Please?

Picture via

How can nonprofits, or anyone in that matter, gather more Twitter followers when there are literally millions of people who are Tweeting everyday about everything under the sun? When pondering over this question I simply asked my teenage daughter how she gains followers on Twitter. Her simplistic answer, “just ask them to follow you in your bio and they will”, made me realize I was making this challenge harder than it really is.  It is extremely competitive within the social media aspects but I am going to take a different way of looking at how we can get new Tweets and not get overwhelmed.

I went searching on the internet for great advice and found sites and blogs that offered ideas such as the site by James Blute featuring 7 Twitter Marketing Tips. His insight was helpful and for a newcomer to the social media world I really appreciated his easy to follow tips.

Basically I had to start really thinking about the audience I want to attract to my cause. In my case, I am extremely new to Twitter but since I am a passionate cancer awareness advocate and want to get the word out to as many people I can in a very short period of time, I needed to learn how to Tweet and wanted to gain as many followers as possible to start. So to get followers you must follow others that are in the same field/cause you are in.

Start by doing a search in Twitter using target words that are in your cause that you feel your audience will be following. Do your homework and really read over their bios, look at what others are Tweeting about and if you like what you see then start following them.  Sometimes if you Retweet something you have the chance of gaining them as a follower in the future. Some view it as a form of flattery and will appreciate the Retweet.  It’s kind of like an “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine” scenario and we really need to tap into it especially in the nonprofit realm.

Another way to gain followers is to use the pound symbol (#) Twitter calls the hash tag. This will tag the word you pair it with and when others (like yourself in the beginning) are searching for target words they will find your Tweets and could possibly start following you. It’s really that simple. There are many ways to gather new followers such as noted in this great blog I found at 20 Social Media Resources For Nonprofits posted by Kris Putnam-Walkerly.  It not only helped me find more resources, but it gave me great ideas on how to gain more followers on Twitter, gave me a list of people/groups that I should be following as well and helpful hints on using more social media that I have never thought about using before.

The world is out there waiting for you to grab it, you just have to ask yourself if you are going to be the first to hook or cast. Get to Tweeting my friends!