Will GMOs be a thing of the past for the U.S.?

Last Wednesday, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin tweeted his interest in signing a bill that will mandate GMOs( genetically modified organism) must be identified on food labels when it reaches his desk. Although Vermont is not the first state to have high interest in labeling GMOs on food labels, it will be the first state to enforce it. Connecticut and Maine passed bills last year, however the states had a trigger clause in the law–meaning other states had to activate the law first in order for Maine and Connecticut to enact theirs.

GMOs have been a pertinent topic of discussion when the Food Inc. documentary hit the small screen. Even with all the hype however, the United States government has failed to recognize and deal with the issue that is antagonizing the public. Interestingly, more than a dozen states are interested in enacting GMO identifying laws in food labels. Over 50 countries worldwide and outright banned GMO foods in their countries, now if only the United States was able to follow the trend.

The question now remains will the informed consumer be able to deviate from buying GMO contained food if the labels clearly identify it?

Click the link to see it on my Storify!


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The cities I’d love to experience.

Below is a google map of my childhood home, a city I once traveled and fell in love in, and a city that has always been a childhood dream. Spotswood was the two square mile town where I attended and graduated primary school. Honolulu immediately won over my heart, once I stepped out into the fresh, warm air. One day, I’ll move to Honolulu and never look back. Paris captivates me in the most interesting way ever since I saw movies based in the beautiful city, one day I will visit and explore all of what Paris has in store for me.


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Need Help Engaging your Publics? This Twitter Chat Might Help.

Recently, I participated in a live Twitter chat event. It was hosted by Smarter Shift, a Canadanian-based community who discusses content marketing & management, social media strategy, conference content & sustainable, and low-carbon futures. Generally, Smarter Shift hosts a weekly Twitter chat on Mondays at 3 p.m. This week’s topic of discussion was “How to Create Content that Spurs Online Engagement” with the  guest Dennis of DNNCorp. As a public relations professional in training, I’m still learning the ropes of how to engage public appropriately and this chat had great take-aways. This blog post will be rather long as I’ll be embedding all of my tweets and some of my favorites from my conversation, but if you continue on I assure you might learn something new.

As I first entered the conversation, I was immediately greeted with warm welcomes. Jenise Fryatt, the moderator and social media strategist for SmarterShift, asked participants to introduce themselves and “share a favorite topic that always gets you going”.

As I posted that makeup was something I enjoyed talking about, Jenise grabbed on and discussed it further. Being as the topic of the Tweet chat was how to create content and spark engagement, I understood she was applying concepts she learned about engagement into a personal conversation with me.

As more people entered the chat, the conversation about online engagement began. The chat was formatted as a Q&A (question and answer). Smarter Shift would ask the questions, participants would answer as well as Dennis. The first question asked was, “What constitutes online community engagement?”.

As the answers poured in, many resembled my response. Dennis answered,” Engagement criteria depends on the community. Here’s the constant: the likelihood that members will return tomorrow.” He continued on with examples of engagement such as active involvement posts, likes, replies etc. Smarter Shift answered the first question, “discussion, questions, answers, comments, sharing, analyzing, etc”.

The second question asked was, “Why is online community engagement important in content marketing?” A great answer to this was by an account named Hoover’s.

In PR, dialogue is essential. We drive engagement in public opinion and are moderators of what is being said. Dialogue opens conversation for companies to learn what their publics are feeling. Without this, their publics’ interests can be lost and companies won’t know how to appropriately communicate with them.

Smarter Shift answered with multiple responses. “Active engagement within a community holds the community together. When people participate, they enjoy it more.” “People want to participate. They want to be part of the conversation. This is why social media marketing works.” “Participation is VERY different from sitting back & watching a commercial. No one wants to do that.”

I responded to these statements with:

As the conversation continued on, the third question was, “What content topics are more likely to spur discussion?” My immediate responses were:

Again, various participants had similar responses. But, Hoover’s, I believe, said it best:

Question four asked, “What content formats elicit better engagement?”

I replied:

[side note: for some reason these statuses tagged onto a previous answer for another question]

By this point, numerous participants were veering off topic, yet still had great insight on long form reads and snackable content. My insight to the conversation included:

[side note: I meant to say viewers not views, whoops.]

Once the conversation was no longer off topic, Smarter shift posed the question, “How can content be used to elicit content creation within the community?”

Smarter Shift answered their question the best:

The last question of the conversation, “Once you have elicited a discussion, how can you use content to keep it going?”

My answer was:

My favorite response to this question was by Anh Nguyen with:

Generally when a conversation is left to die, it gets shifted to the back of our minds, no matter what insight the content offered. I enjoy conversations that continue to build my knowledge and I believe others do, too.

As the conversation was nearing to an end, Smarter Shift asked participants to share any final thoughts, take aways, etc.

Overall, I believe this Twitter conversation had great points in how to engage publics, then keep the conversation going.

  • Engage in topics that are of interest to your publics.
  • Don’t just post content that you find interesting, find content that can spark active engagement for your publics. If they can participate, they will enjoy it more and feel their opinion matters.
  • Content that is fun visually, but also interesting will promote engagement. Words on a screen won’t make people want to have a conversation. A combination of pictures, words, etc. will elicit engagement.
  • Snackable content is easy and can drive a reader to want to learn more, sometimes long-form reads can drive readers away.
  • To keep content going, ask follow up questions, ask participants to post links, pictures, etc. on how they feel about the conversation or what they would like to add.

This experience was wonderful and because of the information I learned throughout the conversation, I plan to participate in these chats more often. In the field of PR, information and engagement are always changing. It is up to the practitioners whether they want to stay relevant.

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Would You Risk Your Professionalism and Credibility for Success?

In the world of Public Relations, practitioners are urged to perform their absolute best to meet the needs of their clients and their PR goals ethically and reasonably. Many times, PR practitioners do this and it goes unnoticed or unsaid. However, situations arise and examples of poorly practiced PR, i.e. Scott McClellan, Anthony Weiner, etc., become mainstream news and ruin what the Golden Age of Public Relations has accomplished thus far. Also, these scenarios act as justifiable reasons for some PR practitioners to lose their integrity in exchange for success.

After reading a blog post from PR Couture on integrity becoming a lost concept in Public Relations, the notion that practitioners are trading their honesty to meet their goals is bothersome. By no means are PR practitioners bound to the Public Relations Society of America’s Code of Ethics, nonetheless the PRSA’s principles, if applied accurately help build trust and credibility which are crucial aspects as a gaugers of public opinion and mediators between the organizations and the public.  In school, we are supposed to learn from the mistakes made by those highly publicized, bad examples of PR, so our actions do not reflect their poor decision making. Yet, I’m still dumbfounded why people succumb to lying or cutting corners in order to attain their goals when they have seen the repercussions through Scott McClellan or Martha Stewart. I would rather be honest with my clients or boss of why I wasn’t able to reach my goals than lie and hurt my career and reputation. Listed below are some of the disadvantages one may experience if he/she chooses to exchange their honesty for “reaching” their goals dishonestly:

  • Fired from his/her job
  • Blacklisted from the PR field
  • Credibility and trust lost from the public
  • Publicly humiliated (varies from the severity of the issue)
  • Possible legal issues

These disadvantages jeopardize the livelihood of the practitioner and the company, therefore I would believe cutting corners should be a nonexistent choice for PR people.

195456356_76908fcf98After reading Integrity: A Lost Currency in Public Relations?, I cannot fathom how PR people build years of trust among the public and their company just to lose all their hard work and dedication from a lack of good judgment. As graduation and trying to land a job post grad nears, I plan to uphold my integrity for my clients, future employer, and most importantly myself as integrity was a concept that was engrained in my mind early on by my parents. I understand tempting situations arise and laziness levels peak, but I’ve always believed you should try to do things right the first time to avoid hurting your reputation and having to do it again. Truth will always prevail, so why not do the best you can, tell the truth, and get the respect you deserve?

Photo Credit: arimoore via Compfight cc

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Even in a World Full of Pessimists, the Future of PR is Still Optimistically Bright

With a bleak economy, even worse job market, and people coming to terms the worst isn’t over. Graduating college and pursuing the job market doesn’t seem like the greatest thing right now. However, Public Relations is a field that continues to grow as businesses are finally realizing the need to employ PR strategists. This became more apparent as PR shifted from traditional methods, dating back to the days of Edward Bernays and Ivy Lee, to more current methods that embody the importance of relationships with consumers.

With the explosion of the Internet, various industries needed to adjust to the innovation in order to remain relevant to their consumers. Public relations adapted swiftly as the Internet helped “public relations become public again, after years of exclusive focus on media” (Scott). Also with the birth of the Internet came other innovations like smartphones, tablets, social media, etc. that help PR people get their messages out. PR pros no longer need to rely on the media for their messages to be communicated; instead they can use these new forms to deliver the content straight to the consumer appropriately. Social media allows the content to be reposted, generate conversation, and receive free publicity. It helps build or solidify relationships with new or old consumers. Brian Solis confirms Scott’s beliefs as Solis calls the power social media has, “the ART of social media”. ART is referred as “Actions, Reactions and Transactions” and also the opportunity for meaningful connection from business to consumer. Social media emerged an “ecosystem” in which journalists, PR pros, consumers, readers, etc. can exchange thoughts, content, etc. without the suppression of mainstream media. On social media, anyone has the ability to create conversation and make statements on others’ material in forms of text, video, audio, and pictures. These posts ensure authenticity and cause the messages to be more subjective, rather than objective.

Nonetheless, skepticism of social media is expected, too. A major disadvantage of social media derives from what information we actually consume. In a perfect world, people would want to learn about conflicting opinions, so they may become better educated; instead we flee to the perspectives whom mirror our views or biases (Kristof). Seth Ashley noted, “affirmation sells better than information”, however by leaning on materials that uphold our preconceived beliefs, we become divided and intolerant of people with different views. I see this almost every day as people voice their opinions on people’s posts. Instead of having a well-articulated argument on why the person doesn’t agree with the poster’s view, they scurry to crude profanities as a way to show that person they are “wrong”. It’s alright for them to have their own opinions, yet as the same homogenous perspectives are recycled, opinions become more extreme, less accepting of rival views, and more aggressive. We become lost in the noise, rather than paying attention to the message. PR pros must rise to the challenge and eliminate the competing noise, yet do it in a manner that doesn’t raise concern.

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