#PublicRelationsProbz Tuesday, Apr 24 2012 

This past Saturday was our big event, “Dancing Through the Decades“. After months of contacting food vendors and auction item donors, it finally culminated on Saturday. The team looked great and we did our best to make the Dunham School Gym look good too. We got there at noon on Saturday and began setting up. The gym wasn’t the best location for a “ball”, but as we found out later, it was called a ball, but it was still Lisa’s prom.

With this event I have learned a lot about public relations. No matter how determined you are to help an organization such as BRAADC, if the people in charge aren’t willing to take your professional advice, the event won’t be a total success.

When we got there to begin the set up, it was just us, which was fun because we could be silly and have fun while getting ready. We had to bring out tables and chairs and then cover the tables with linens and arrange them to fit the room.  We also had to get the tables set up for food, check in, raffle items and the auction tables. It didn’t take that long, thankfully it was a nice day so hauling things from the car wasn’t too bad.

After everything was set up, a few group members went to make food pickups and then we all got ready in the gym locker room. eww. Lester and I had to make a last minute ride to puck up the balloons and candles for the auction tale. Because Lisa wasn’t there all day, the decorations weren’t there until after guests had already arrived which wasn’t very professional on her part.

Kandyse made an event timeline which helped keep us all on track of when things would happen and where we should all be. I stood by the auction table and was pleased to see that all items except one were bid on and raised one. For having all the items donated, it was a good bit of money we made, considering none of the guests knew about the auction until they arrived.

Right before we did the raffle ticket drawing, I went around to the tables and tried to sell more raffle tickets. Good thing Mom & Dad had the idea to send me around because I sold about $200 in raffle tickets just by walking around before the drawing.

Lauren and Haley worked at the check in table selling tickets, collecting money, distributing programs and signing guests up for the silent auction. Overall, I think the event was a success. We were not given an advertising budget or any other ways to advertise so it was hard to sell tickets but I do think the people who came enjoyed themselves.

This event was proof that the client and public relations team need to be on the same page or the event will not be consistent. I was so proud of the team and think everyone deserves a pat on the back for their hard work and time spent to make the event a success.

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Team BluePRint, y’all!!!


Public Relations: A Tough Crowd Wednesday, Mar 28 2012 

This past week has been hectic with me for school. It seems like I have all the time in the world to complete something and then I blink and the assignment is due the next day. Last week after our group meeting I was given ten posters for our “Dancing Through the Decades Ball” that BRAADC is hosting on April 21st. We brainstormed a list of places we thought would be strategic in placement

So last Thursday I set out to get these poster hung. It was so much harder than I thought it would be. Corporate companies have such strict regulations on what can and cannot be displayed. However, I did get a few up at places including Hallmark gifts, Starbucks Coffee, a formal wear store at Town Center, and Whole Foods at Perkins Rowe. While out hanging posters last week I had a few questions and concerns; I was so thankful Lester is the most fabulous account liaison ever and answered his phone and text messages every single time I needed his advice!

I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to find places to hang the posters. Luckily today I got a few hung up in churches and assisted living centers around the city. Unfortunately, the country clubs weren’t having it.

I had suggested to the team last week that we add a golf outing to our list of possible donations for prizes at the event. While at the LSU Golf clubhouse I spoke with the golf pro and explained what we were doing and that we would be in contact with him soon about acquiring a possible donation from the club. He was very nice and decided to just give me the donation right then. So there it is, our 1st donation: Free round of golf on the weekend at the LSU course, which is a $45 value.

Last week Kandyse sent me the list of possible raffle item donors and I got the contact information together for her so we can get the information sent out ASAP.I was happy to scratch out a name after receiving our first donation.

After realizing how easy it is for a club to donate free golf, I contacted my boss. I work at Beau Chene Country Club (or as Marcus would say “Beau Sha-Nay”) in Mandeville. It is one of the premier country clubs in Louisiana and features two full size golf courses. Because it is a members only club, I was concerned my boss wouldn’t be able to help. Luckily, he was willing to donate a certificate for a day of golfing for four people. I have to get the information to email him and my boss will be mailing us the certificate!

We have only heard back from one our our potential food donors so we are all getting together to start making phone calls to see if the managers have had the chance to look over the packets and their thoughts on donating. Hopefully this will remind them of how soon it is and they’ll be able to let us know f they can help.

Working in Public Relations can be rough. I’ve began to see what a tough crowd we’re dealing with between food donors, ticket sales and advertising locations. Luckily I’m working with such a great, smart, fabulous, stylish and experienced team!

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Sweet, Sweet Public Relations Progress Thursday, Mar 15 2012 

Last week BluePRint met at BRAADC and began to print off the donation forms. We all worked on the wording of the letters and other forms to be included in the packet and I was so pleased with how they came out. Everything sounds professional and straight forward. We thought it would be nice to personalize the letters with the name of the general manager so last week I called every single restaurant on the list and asked for the name and email of the general manager. Hopefully this small extra effort will be noted and help our effort. We split the list of restaurants up and we each took about five locations to visit in which we would explain our purpose and get any information we can from the location manager. I visited Bistro 225, La Madeline, Mansurs on the Boluevard, Maxwell’s Market and Jason’s Deli. The managers all seemed to be interested in at least donating a gift card for us to use as a door prize if they couldn’t manage to donate food. I went early before the rush but they all seemed to be a bit short with me. Fingers crossed we get some great donations.

This just in… we have our 1st confirmed food vendor donor!

I’m so happy that the meeting went well with Lester and Kandyse because we got the okay to move forward with the printing. I really like the ticket and poster design Lester created. I think it was a great compromise between BluePRint and Lisa at BRAADC. I think I am most excited about the design being ready to print because I am so anxious to have tangible proof of our team’s efforts.

Lauren and Haley got together last weekend and worked on some of the written aspects. They work great as a team and I will be joining that team this coming weekend to assist in the writing process. We will be working toward the completion of everything that must be done before our meeting with Dr. Copple.

Each week I am more and more amazed by the talents and professionalism of my team members. Kandyse and Lester (mom and dad) have been the directors of this entire operation and I love it. They both have a lot of experience from jobs and internships which really help our group. I’m actually really excited for our event. I think that our hard work will pay off and it will be a success.

Overall, everything is moving along. Although we are a little behind schedule on where we had originally planned, we always seem to pull it off so as long as the team stays focused and keeps our eyes on the prize, I have no doubt it will be great.

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Beggars can’t be Choosers Wednesday, Feb 29 2012 

Picture this: I’m sitting on the carpet in front of my mirror putting on mascara, my favorite playlist echoing in the background, a pile of beads from the previous night’s parade in the corner, and my cell phone rings. I was getting ready to go out and was very tempted not to answer, especially when I didn’t recognize the number. I did anyway and unfortunately my plans for the night were brought to an abrupt halt. After contacting someone from the Times Picayune in New Orleans the previous week, my information was passed along and a writer from the Mandeville Picayune contacted me. Why at 10 pm the night before Mardi Gras, I’m not sure.

After talking to the writer for a minute, I realized he was my high school soccer coach and used to be the disciplinarian at the school I attended. He recognized my name and then asked a few questions to see how I’ve been since my high school days. He then told me he wanted to run a story on BRAADC and I was so excited! He asked me a few questions and informed me that he had sent me an email with a list of questions he needed answered for him to write the column. I’m thinking, okay no problem, the event isn’t until April and I’ll have plenty of time to talk with my teammates and get some really good, detailed answers to help him write a great piece and get our event some publicity. My excitement was short-lived when he told me the story would be running this week and he needed the information soon. And by “soon” he meant tonight. I tried to contact my teammates but it was late on a holiday and I didn’t expect them to be available to help so I started typing. I was nervous to give him information without talking to my teammates first because I was still unsure of things like what we would be calling the event and what details we wanted to publicize. Originally the Director of BRAADC, Lisa Bailey, wanted to call the event an “adult prom”. As mentioned last week, we didn’t think that name was a great idea and played around with a few other ideas, so I was unsure as to how I should describe the event to the writer. Lisa was set on the prom idea and therefore the event will be called “Prom: Rewind the Clock ad Rock,” although I didn’t know this at the time he needed the information by.

While on the phone I explained to him that the event wasn’t until April and the story wasn’t necessary this early. He knew this from my original inquiry and explained that this was going to be his preliminary column to introduce the organization to the community and a follow up article will be printed closer to the event. Because I didn’t have all the details about the event, it was hard to give him a lot of information, but I did my absolute best and utilized the information on BRAADC’s website. What I sent him was more focused on what the organization was about but made a point to tell him that we wanted the April event to be our main focus. I also noted that we are asking people to “like” the BRAADC Facebook page and “follow” their Twitter feed in order to keep up with details about the event and ticket purchasing information.

The article was published on Sunday, February 26th. Although it is included with another community service project, the majority of the article is focused on BRAADC. The way I look at it, the article can’t hurt. Just to get the community familiar with the organization’s name is a win in my book. Most Mandeville residents have probably never heard of the organization and the article talks about how they can donate money and what they can do to help BRAADC. Even though increasing general donations isn’t our main focus, it helps the organization and any positive publicity on the event is welcome.

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Team BluePRint, y’all!!

Mardi Gras Madness Wednesday, Feb 15 2012 

The last week has been full of ideas! Monday night we all met and Kandyse’s work and continued where we left off. Kandyse has a lot of experience from her job at Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center. When we got there, she had a list printed out of the events to follow and who would be speaking on what topics; it was nice and her organizational skills are appreciated.

We are kinda confused and stuck on the overall design and appeal of the prom. Lisa told us she wants the theme to be from the 40s to the 90s, yet the team is worried about everything looking too scattered. Marcus made a few mock ups of possible posters that had guitars and the advertising information on them. I like them, but it was suggested that those may not resonate well with the audience we are trying to reach. We will all be working to make the advertising posters each different, yet all similar enough to know that they belong to the same event and organization. The one thing most of the group did agree on is the “vintage feel” for the posters.

A big obstacle we are experiencing is time, or lack there of. Lisa wants us to send out save the dates as well as invitations but we are unsure if this will work with the short time frame we were given. It will be a tight squeeze but I have faith in our team. Lester and Kandyse are going to start on the wording for the invitations and save the dates this week. They will then get that information over to Marcus and he will put together the information and design, sure to please.

Lauren and I worked on a timeline for non-prom related things. We came up with dates that we want things such as the Facebook and Twitter pages to be updated and maintained by. Haley has a great idea to implement a “fact of the day” type post. I researched alcohol and drug related awareness days and we found a lot of good dates in April to have postings about alcohol awareness and encouraging those in need to seek help. Lester told us about HootSuite which is an easy to use website that will allow Lisa and BRAADC to more easily update statuses and postings on their social media sites. This site allows you to enter in all the tweets and statuses at once and assign them a date and time to be posted. This will be very beneficial to Lisa after we are done the campaign as she won’t have to set aside time to frequently update BRAADC’s social media.

This most recent meeting has made us all realize we need to turn this talk into action. We have tons of great ideas and want to implement them but have come to the realization that we need  to physically start producing finished material, because good ideas aren’t enough.  We have a lot of work to do and have all been assigned tasks for the week.

My cousin, Jennifer, is an editor at the Times Picayune. I contacted her about possibly getting a story or advertisement run in the paper closer to the event in April. She told me that they don’t print much about Baton Rouge events but gave me the information of someone I can contact in Mandeville, my hometown, and hopefully have something printed there. Having an article or advertisement in any paper would be a great help in publicizing the event and my fingers are crossed I get good news!

Poor Haley has been sick &  unfortunately is having eye surgery over Mardi Gras break. Get well soon! & Happy Valentine’s Day ❤ Mardi Gras 2012 is almost here!!!!

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Leaving the Party at 10 Wednesday, Feb 8 2012 

This past weekend BluePRint got together at Haley’s house to work on the research report. Cute place, I’m looking forward to sun-bathing at her salt water pool! After a quick Subway run and a little “gazelling around” we got to work. We have very umm… diverse tastes in music. Needless to say, I have three new stations on my Pandora account. We started by filtering through the brochures and pamphlets Haley picked up from Lisa. We each took a section and our corresponding information and got busy. A few hours later, after much shenanigans, girl talk and beer rankings we were almost finished. After such a long session we decided to stop for the night and reconvene at Lester’s on Tuesday. Tuesday night was more of a get together/ research night to collect ideas rather than actually produce work. We will also be coming up with a color scheme for the entire promenade  and have been looking at a few preset ideas.

None of the BluePRint members thought the adult prom should be called that. We all seemed to think it was juvenile and should be renamed a gala. Lester was on his job as usual. He read a few blogs and articles about prom-like events and we found mostly negative articles, but a few positive ones.  Because the client is set on the “prom” idea, we will be classing it up a bit and referring to it as a “promenade”. I’m excited to help put the promenade together and even more excited to dress up and attend. We were thinking since there are six of us, Pink Ladies as a tribute to the 50s; Marcus isn’t having it. We may decide to all dress up as a different generation. The second that idea was unleashed, “dibs” were being called out across the room.

After talking to Lisa, we have found out that “rewind the clock and rock” is going to be our theme. Our group thinks this theme will be okay, but we wanted to narrow down the generations. Lisa said she didn’t have a particular generation in mind, and didn’t care to so we will be incorporating ideas from the 40s through the 90s. The issue we had with this was consistency. We want to make sure that everything looks professional and pulled together. After research on multiple sites, we found that each of these decades is completely different. Instead of this being a bad thing, we are going to play up the diversity and had the idea to use each table or area at the promenade as a tribute to different decades.

Because we are nearly finished with the research report, we will be moving on to more planning and redesigning of marketing collateral. As strategy director, I will be creating a timeline for when we want non prom related items such as brochures due. This weekend everyone has things going on so next will be extra busy for the entire group and we will most likely be meeting more than once.

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The Beginning of the End Thursday, Feb 2 2012 

My group and I first met our client this week and we discussed some things that she would like to have done as well as explained to her what we as a team are capable of. As far as challenges, the first thing we experienced was when Lisa, the coordinator at BRAADC, was unsure of what exactly public relations was. Lisa thought that we would be doing volunteer like work and acting as interns. After meeting with Lisa, she saw that we can help her organization, but in a slightly different way than she first anticipated.

Following our meeting with Lisa, we decided that the main event we will work on is the production of a prom like event to be held in April. BluePRint will be responsible for everything from designing the tickets to venue decorations and food donations.  Very importantly BluePRint will be revamping materials such as brochures and newsletters which will give us experience working with the programs, as well as assist BRAADC in having more attractive materials. Due to the small budget at BRAADC, we will be using our skills as public relations professionals to build relationships with organizations and companies in the community in hopes of receiving donations and support for the prom event and other revitalization efforts. BRAADC is a deserving organization and we feel that BluePRint can help them in multiple respects.

Another issue that arises with this organization is in relation to ethics. Because BRAADC helps those in need, we were required to sign a confidentiality agreement. This is understandable and helped me realize that this organization is not a club or society but a place where people in need can go for help and trust that it will remain confidential. I feel good that BRAADC trusts us and is willing to let us help them.

As for achieving organizational effectiveness within a nonprofit, I feel public relations is if not the most important, one of the most important things a non-profit will become involved with. Because nonprofits usually have smaller budgets, the majority of the organization’s operations rely on donations and sponsors. Building relationships with the public in order to get these donations is what a public relations professional is trained to do. Public relations can also offer new and innovative ideas that can save a non-profit money, or help raise money to help the organization. For example, BluePRint will be working hard this semester to get BRAADC’s name out in the community in order to increase awareness and gain support for the organization and its goals. BluePRint feels confident that we can increase awareness and gain the support of community leaders, members and local businesses.

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