Now that our campaigns are dwindling down, it’s time for us to finalize our campaign books and show proof that our work this entire semester was actually helpful to our client.

During this time, I immediately think back to the most annoying question I’ve ever heard in my life thus far. As a graduate, people love to ask you “What’s your major?” But the more annoying question that comes right after that is always “Well what are you going to do with that?” Since I don’t give a typical response of pre-law, pre-med, education, or engineering, people are often times thrown off by the phrase “public relations.” But no matter how much dissent I received from these people, I insisted that there is a place in this job market and world for public relations.

This campaigns class was my chance to prove that I was right. I found a site that completely empathized with my sentiments concerning PR (http://www.noble-ink.com/prd_pre.html). The portion that caught my eye, although short, summed it up in one sentence. The site claimed that PR is under pressure to prove its effectiveness and this couldn’t be more true.

Approaching the completion of our campaign, I now wish I could find all of these inquiring people and show them our work. I want to literally throw it in their faces and ask them if they could do it. Chances are, they’d just look at me crazy, but after the crazy stares, they’d most likely say no. Most people don’t understand that public relations can produce hard data like any other profession. And if that didn’t convince them, I’d show them the new website at playmakersbr.org compared to the old site playmakersbr.net, and if that didn’t make them a believer, then I’d give up.

Another site (http://www.squidoo.com/studypr) listed 10 simple reasons that one should study PR. What I’ve noticed about this list combined with everything my professors have taught me confirms my decision in choosing PR. Public Relations, as a study, is one of the most comprehensive curriculum here at LSU. It truly teaches us how to react in any situation, skills that we can use in any job, and most importantly people skills. I can’t count how many engineering major friends I have that cannot for the life of them hold a conversation, and this will hinder them in life.

So to answer my blog title’s question in a professional manner, I will just say ABSOLUTELY!

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Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been slightly plagued with the negative turnout of what was Playmakers’ production of “Project X: The Final Level.” After the success of Pinocchio, it was kind of a personal let down as well as an overall disappointment as a public relations agency for Project X to be such a failure. I had to reminding myself that we did everything we could possibly do as an agency to support the potential success of the production. I even found an article online entitled “How to Bounce Back From Failure ( http://www.forbes.com/2009/08/19/recover-from-failure-entrepreneurs-management-failure.html) that kind of put this minor failure into a bigger picture for me.

Going back to the basics of public relations that I’ve learned throughout my years here at LSU, I realized that my group members were right. If we’ve done our part thoroughly and correctly, and things still don’t turn out the way we like them, that’s simply to be taken as a learning lesson. We started off on the defense from the very beginning with all of the negative connotations surrounding the title of the production. There was even a death in my hometown of Houston with the movie “Project X”‘s name all over it (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/15/houston-project-x-party_n_1347563.html). We were doomed from the start.

But as cliche as it might sound, the good thing about failure is that there is literally nowhere to go but up. And up we are indeed going. With an event quickly approaching next week, there’s n time to dwell on the past. Upward and onward is the motto. I have high hopes for the event at Schlittz & Giggles as we can promote it to our peers and definitely get a better turnout. This is a department we all have experience in. We’ve all at some point had to have a social gathering and invite peers, so this is right up our alley. The Facebook event (http://www.facebook.com/events/319798131418573/)  is brand new and already has 16 people attending. With the event not being held until next Tuesday, I’m sure the turnout will increase beyond that number dramatically.

And the good news doesn’t stop there! Our awesome graphic designer, Jadi, has conquered the unconquerable. The brand new Playmakers website at http://www.playmakersbr.org is finally up and active. Not only is it up and active, but it’s also appropriate and aimed at the correct audience. The website is full of playful colors and extremely user friendly.

We had one failure and are bouncing back with 2 successes. I’ll take that.

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve felt especially important, because outside of the initial research report, there came a time for me to evaluate the research we’d done thus far. Pinocchio had come and gone and left a 2-week break before the next Playmakers production. These 2-weeks proved to be the perfect time to tabulate results from the Pinocchio surveys and make some conclusions based on the results. We conducted primary research (as outlined in this site: http://stedavies.com/2006/06/12-steps-to-a-successful-pr-campaign/)  and were finally going to have our own results to work off of instead of just what we were being told.

The site (http://www.slideshare.net/prlab/using-research-in-pr) entitled “Using Research in PR” was a very basic reminder of why we research in PR and set a great foundation for my work to calculate these results. This site mentioned how research in public relations helps us plan campaigns and in this case it couldn’t be more correct. Karli, our client, used many types of marketing and advertising approaches in her work, but we came to find out that many of these outlets weren’t making an impact at all. Well at least not according to the surveys we received. There was an overall positive response on the surveys i.e. people saying they are very likely to attend another production, but there were of course a few negative responses. This, however, did not discourage us, because as we been told time and time again, both negative and positive feedback can be helpful to a campaign.

We also received the email from Dr. Moore about Karli’s changed decision regarding their current website (www.playmakers.net). Much to our delight as an agency, she decided to do away with the current website completely and start anew. After originally being told that we could do nothing about the website and that hands were tied regarding the situation, this was extremely refreshing! The new website isn’t of course as advanced in design and/or content as the previous website but with a lot of hard work and attention from our team in the next few weeks http://www.playmakersbr.org will be on the same level if not better than the original site. We really want to give it a positive, colorful, and kid-friendly spin because right now, the website that represents Playmakers now embodies the exact opposite of that description.

The lesson that stuck out to me these past couple of weeks is cliche but true: If at first you don’t succeed, try again.

It has been a great round of days in Playmakers’ neighborhood. Coming from a background heavy with theater arts and acting, I remember days leading up to opening night being extremely busy, stressful, and exciting all at the same time. While working with Playmakers, I’ve found that the emotions are no different. Opening night for Pinocchio is this Thursday and hopes are at an all time high. To be totally honest, prior to this week I was beyond nervous about the turnout for this particular production. The Reilly Agency stepped into the marketing plan in the middle of advertising for it, so I don’t think we were expecting our impact to be as strong as it is already proving itself to be. We’ve already distributed posters for the play and I’m guessing the word is getting out because after visiting http://www.facebook.com/PlaymakersBR, the number of likes has increased since our work began. This seems like a small feat, but when trying to get an organization’s name out, any little sign that your work is not in vain makes a big difference. Also, a member of the agency was driving down Perkins Road and spotted a digital billboard advertising the production in a prime time location on a major street in Baton Rouge! She was even able to catch a snapshot and share it with the rest of us on our GroupMe messenger app. Everyone was extremely excited, myself included. We were also able to film a video for Playmakers’ YouTube account marketing Pinocchio as well. The video can be found on the facebook page as well as http://www.youtube.com/user/PlaymakersBR. It received 31 views in 1 day, which again, is good for a small non-profit organization trying to get its name out in the public in a different light. Of course we’d like to increase that number, but we’re taking it a day at a time. The Advocate also covered the upcoming event with an entertainment piece that can be found at theadvocate.com/entertainment/2077257-31/playmakers-students-build-their-own.html. The buzz surrounding Playmakers is slowly but surely coming around. One of the agency members even took the opportunity to post a link to the video on the Advocate story which was genius. The twitter page twitter.com/#!/PlaymakersBR is still lacking in followers, but this is a brand new page. Before The Reilly Agency, Playmakers didn’t even have a twitter, so it counts as a success in my book and we’ll work to further improve our impact in this department!

As I sat in the bed watching TV, attempting to relax and take a break from school, I ran into something that did the exact opposite of relax me. Right there before my eyes was what I like to refer to as the Goliath of our campaign this semester. A commercial donning the same exact title as a production that Playmakers will put on graced my television screen. Project X. Playmakers’ version of Project X is about a young boy who plays video games and includes digital characters. The film version of Project X however, is a totally different story. Cameras follow young teenagers throwing the wildest party ever that is supposed to turn their social status around among peers. After being told about a movie coming out named Project X, I thought it’d be a minor speed bump, but after viewing the trailer, its something like a disaster. After viewing the movie website at (http://projectxmovie.warnerbros.com/index.html), and seeing a kid passed out on a lawn surrounded by empty cups, I didn’t feel any better about the situation. Needless to say, (www.playmakers.net) has a different view on their homepage. The lecture we had in class about scanning your competition and being just as well versed in their product as you are in your own came in very handy at this point.Even though our crisis doesn’t mean the end of the world is near, it’s relatively bad for us. I read up on some other PR blunders at (http://articles.businessinsider.com/2011-12-07/strategy/30484353_1_herman-cain-joe-paterno-penn-state-for)  to see what we should not do. As an Agency, we got together and immediately brainstormed possible methods to get us out of this sticky situation. We decided to attempt to change the title slightly. With advertising and marketing materials already created and printed up with “Project X” plastered all over them, it’s hard to make any significant changes. Basically anything we did to change the title would have to be very minor and we’d still have to combat the issue at hand. We  came up with “Project X: The Final Level.” We think this title encompasses the fact that the production is centered around a video game and will shy away from it’s twin movie title. It seems like an appropriate solution for now, but of course only time will tell and once we end our pubbing for next weekend’s production of Pinocchio and start advertising hard for Project X, we’ll see if our change was made in vain.

Today, February 1st, 2012, our MC 4005 campaign group met with our client for the first time. But rewinding back to last week, when I found out we would be working with The Playmakers, I was ecstatic. Having a theater background myself, the thought of helping out a non-profit theater company targeted towards children is very appealing. So naturally, as we all arrived to meet with Karli (our contact for Playmakers), i was ready to take on any and every task. But walking out of the meeting, I felt a tad bit overwhelmed, not because we were being asked to do too much, but perhaps because I think our group as a whole wants to do more than we can possibly manage for 1 semester. Karli was very grateful for our enthusiasm and understanding of our schedules which I believe will prove to make the campaign that much easier as far as cohesiveness. She had a few major goals she wanted to see us reach if possible, one being to help her advertise more and get the word out about upcoming productions.  We also brainstormed new ways to promote and new audiences to target. Karli also discussed a project that she wished we could take on but didn’t see it happening as she doesn’t have much control over it. That project is their website (http://www.playmakers.net/). I think it would be nice if we could at least get something, no matter how minor, done to it. We still have to get together as a campaign group and debrief our meeting with Karli and decipher what exactly we can get accomplished. I’m also pleased with the particular group I was paired with. Our members seem eager to get the job done and help in any way they can. We use groupme.com to communicate. Groupme is helpful because unlike email it has the look of a regular group text message and is pretty fast., plus it’s an easy way to document all of our communication. Soon we’ll be using twitter.com to create The Playmakers’ official twitter account as this was high on Karli’s wish list as well. Overall, I’m excited and I think Karli was surprised by our enthusiasm as a group which is a good thing. When I got home from our meeting with her, as the Research Director, I did a little individual research on how to research for non-profit organizations and found a helpful website about it (http://www.help4nonprofits.com/NP_Mktg_3EffectiveTools_Article.htm). This particular article on the website was very helpful with tips on how to increase community engagement which is exactly what Playmakers needs right now.