A final look at SmokingWords and beyond

As hard as it is to believe, my final semester as a student of the Manship School of Mass Communication is coming to an end. The month of April flew by, and PlanIt Public Relations saw much success in its last month of implementation for SmokingWords.

“Let’s Clear the Air” with Dr. Daniel Harrington proved to successful. His presentation concerning the effects of secondhand smoke on air quality informed and enticed our audience of students, parents, faculty and staff. We also carried out our cigarette butt clean-up in the quad earlier in the day, and gathered 2 gallon-size bags of cigarette butts. It’s amazing how many we picked up in just one hour and only in one small section of the LSU Quad.

Members of the SmokingWords team with Dr. Daniel Harrington and Dr. Judith Sylvester at "Let's Clear the Air."

Both of our events caught the attention of The Daily Reveille, and they published an article  covering our events the following day. SmokingWords has also recently been feature on WAFB.com.

Cigarette Butt Clean-up

When reflecting on the progress we have made, I must say I am very proud. We carried out two successful events, and definitely sparked conversation about our cause among students across campus. We look forward to handing over our campaign book to Dr. Sylvester so that she may continue to move forward with the initiative using our ideas.

As I look to graduation and beyond, I am excited and scared at the same time. I wholeheartedly believe that LSU has fully prepared me for my career. Not only have I gained knowledge in my chosen field of study, but confidence in myself as a professional and as an individual has grown drastically as well. I am ready to take advantage of what my career has to offer, and I look forward to starting that career by participating in the Disney College Program at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fl.

The happiest place on earth!

Although I may not be directly working in public relations while on the program,  my public relations experience will aid me in my Disney endeavors. At the same time, I believe the knowledge and experience I gain through the Disney College Program will further guid me in my public relations career.

Walt Disney once said, “When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way, implicitly and unquestionable.” These are words to live by as I begin the new chapter of my life. As cliche as it may sound, PlanIt Public Relations members’ believed they could achieve their goals and that their work could have an impact. Guess what? We did it.

I’d like to thank Nathan Montgomery, Grace Weber, Samantha Vicknair and Erin Bernard for making PlanIt Public Relations a positive experience. I couldn’t have asked for a better to team work with on my last campaign as a Manship student. Also, special thanks to Dr. Judith Sylvester for her guidance and for allowing us to use our ideas to their fullest extent. It has been a pleasure to serve as the writing director for PlanIt Public Relations on the SmokingWords campaign.

My name is Ali Manion, and I will be graduating from LSU on May 18, 2012 with a BA in Mass Communication. Visit my Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages to learn more about me.


SmokingWords: “Kicking Butts and Taking Names” at the LSU Health and Wellness Fair

One event down, and one to go!

The PlanIt Public Relations team successfully completed its first of two events last Wednesday, March 21 at the LSU Health and Wellness Fair. Despite the severe thunderstorms and threatening weather, we had a wonderful turnout and were able to gather support and awareness for our cause.

We arrived early to set up shop. Our display included a variety of brochures that addressed ways to quite smoking, the harmful effects of tobacco use  and other resources related to our cause. We also set up a “free cigarettes” display, which depicted all of the toxic ingredients in cigarette, including rat poison, carbon monoxide and butane.

To gather support and gauge awareness of SmokingWords, we set up a petition for visitors to sign stating they supported the movement to a tobacco-free campus. Next to the petition, we placed a quick survey for visitors to complete and place in a drawing for prizes.

We were very pleased with the feedback we received at the wellness fair. We are proud to say we obtained over 160 signatures on our petition for a tobacco-free campus. The majority of visitors who completed the survey expressed interest in the organization, too.

Throughout the day, we engaged visitors in our display by explaining our cause, encouraging visitors to sign the petition and answer any questions people had. I also maintained and updated our Twitter and Facebook pages throughout the day. Specifically, we engaged in a conversation with Kick Butts Day via Twitter.

Kristy Landsmann, special events coordinator for the O’Brien House, was stationed next to SmokingWords at the fair. We enjoyed speaking with her about our cause, and she expressed her support of our cause. We have since been in touch with her, and she provided us with helpful resources, including information on the smoking cessation program offered at the O’Brien House. We plan to spread the word about her program through social media and our website.

I was very pleased with the media coverage generated by our presence at the LSU Health and Wellness Fair. We were featured in The Daily Reveille, The Odyssey and on Tiger TV. Our press release was also posted on NBC33-TV‘s website. I am hoping to gain even more media attention at our upcoming event to be held April 3.

With the LSU Health and Wellness Fair behind us, we are focusing our full attention on April 3. This is the day on which Daniel Harrington of the LSU Health Sciences Center is coming to speak in the Holliday Forum on air quality improvement in smoke-free environments. We are also planning a cigarette butt clean-up from 11:30-12:30 p.m. the same day in the quad. Preparations for April 3 have kept the PlanIt Public Relations team busy, but we are confident are efforts have nothing but a positive impact on our events taking place April 3.

Also, our design director, Erin Bernard, successfully put the finishing touches on our new website. It is now live and can be viewed here. I am very pleased with the new website, and I believe it is a drastic improvement from SmokingWords’ former website.

As the writing director for PlanIt Public Relations, I have found myslef doing a lot of, well, writing in the past few weeks. Between press releases, fact sheets, feature stories for the website and talking points, I have certainly kept my keyboard busy. This campaign has confirmed that I truly enjoy writing. Although it may seem like I always have something new to write every day concerning our campaign, I love it. It’s safe to say I am in the right major and concentration (being the fact this is my final class in mass communication before graduation!). I hope to find a public relations job in which I can continue to write as much as I do now.

My name is Ali Manion, and I am a senior in the Manship School of Mass Communication. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Geauxing Tobacco-Free: SmokingWords prepares for the LSU Health and Wellness Fair

PlanIt Public Relations has made much progress in the past two weeks in promoting SmokingWords and preparing for for the LSU Health and Wellness Fair, which is Wednesday, March 21 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Royal-Cotillion Ballroom at the LSU Student Union. Although it seems as if we are running out of time before the fair, I believe we are well prepared and ready to “geaux”.

Fresh Start LSU 2012

Our campaign focus: A "fresh start" for LSU. Logo designed by Erin Bernard

First of all, our social media outlets have gathered a following. Our Facebook page currently has 43 “likes,” and we have 18 followers on Twitter. Although these numbers may seem rather small, we have to start somewhere. I hope that these numbers will increase after our appearance at the Wellness Fair Wednesday.

Now that we have a small following, I’d like to find more ways to encourage interaction and participation in both our Facebook and Twitter pages. I have been posting statuses and updates daily, but have not received much response or feedback from our followers. My goal from now on is to encourage interaction through the updates. For instance, instead of just posting a link to a recent article concerning tobacco use or the harmful effects of smoking, I will encourage action by stating:

“Today, the United Kingdom is celebrating national ‘No Smoking Day.’ Retweet this if you are excited about our very own ‘Kick Butts Day.’ One more week!”

I hope that posts of this fashion will promote more interacton among our followers.

While maintaining and updating the Facebook and Twitter, I also ventured out to local businesses in Baton Rouge with Erin Bernard to gather donations for raffle prizes for the wellness fair. We were very pleased with our success in gathering donations. Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar, North Gate Tavern, Buffalo Wild Wings, Balfour House, Voodoo BBQ and Raising Cane’s generously donated a gift card or two for us to use at both of our events. Visitors to our table at the wellness fair will have the opporutnity to fill out a short survey concerning SmokingWords. Survey participants will be entered into a drawing for a gift card. We hope this opportunity will attract students and other members of the LSU community to our table. We will also present this opportunity to those in attendance at our April 3 event.

I am especially excited about our meeting with Dusy Cooper, the owner of North Gate Tavern. Cooper said North Gate Tavern has been a smoke-free establishment for about 9 months. Erin and I saw this as a wonderful opportunity for a partnership. Cooper acknowledged that she would be willing to help us in the future. I would also like to write a feature story on North Gate Tavern and Cooper’s decision to go smoke-free to use in conjunction with our campaign.

Also, I sent out a press release and media advisory to a list of local media contacts. We have confirmed coverage from Tiger TV, The Odyssey and The Daily Reveille. I am excited to see SmokingWords in the news, and hope to maintain a positive relationship with our available news outlets. I understand that SmokingWords centers around a controversial issue, and I hope the media can actively and positively portray SmokingWords’ mission and the actions it is taking to advocate for a tobacco-free campus at LSU.

I’m very excited about our set-up at the LSU Health and Wellness Fair. Now it’s time start “kicking butts and taking names.”

SmokingWords at the LSU Health and Wellness Fair

My name is Ali Manion, and I am a senior in the Manship School of Mass Communication. You can find me on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

SmokingWords Dives Into Social Media

It’s official! SmokingWords is now on Facebook and Twitter. As the writing director for PlanIt Public Relations, I am in charge of developing and maintaing both pages. While the LSU Wellness Fair is still a few weeks away, I am currently focusing our social media posts on smoking statistics and educating our followers about SmokingWords.

Our challenge with this campaign is primarily generating awareness. No one really knows who we are throughout the student body. In order for our initiative for a tobacco-free campus to take place, we must generate student support and enthusiaism for SmokingWords. I believe social media is an essential means by which we can spread awareness of our initiative.

The Facebook page also includes a link to Fresh Campus, which sponsors SmokingWords and the tobacco-free campus initiative. While our design director, Erin Bernard, continues work on our new SmokingWords website, the Fresh Campus website will serve as our primary resource for those who vist the Facebook page.

While I focus my efforts on social media, Bernard, along with our strategic director, Samantha Vicknair, will attend the Youth and Young Adult Summit on Tobacco Advocacy this weekend at Dillard University. Sponsored by the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco Free Living, or TFL, the event allows Bernard and Vicknair to attend a number of workshops and seminars concerning the impact tobacco use has on society and hopefully bring back some new ideas for our campaign.

Their attendance at the summit is a perfect opportunity to promote SmokingWords through Facebook and Twitter. I will be posting status updates and tweets about the event for our followers to see. Erin and Samantha will also post pictures and updates from the summit on Saturday.

As we look to establishing SmokingWords as an official student organization at LSU, we hope the Youth and Young Adult Summit on Tobacco Advocacy is something that the organization can participate in on an annual basis. Speaking of which, we have also begun the process of making the thought of SmokingWords an official student organization a reality. Our account liaison, Nathan Montogomery, is completing the necessary paperwork to submit, and we are hoping to recruit interested students at the LSU Wellness Fair.

While Erin and Sam are at the summit, I will be mentally preparing myself for my first half marathon. I will be running in the 2012 Rock n’ Roll New Orleans Half Marathon this Sunday, March 4. I have been training since November, and couldn’t be more excited to run 13.1 miles!

I know what you are thinking. What does running a half marathon have to do with public relations? Well, when think abour our service learning campaign,I have come to realize that running a public relations campaign is a lot like running a marathon (or half marathon).

First of all, running a marathon requires a lot of training. Through my studies at the Manship School of Mass Communication and my intership at LSU Sports Information, I have gained the skills and training necessary to succeed in any public relations campaign I may encounter. This campaign is also training me for future campaigns.

When running a marathon, you have to remember to not get ahead of yourself by starting off too fast. If you do so, you will lose steam in the last few miles of the race. With public relations, this point relates to the subject of my last blog: taking baby steps. If you don’t take things one step at a time in public realtions, you will find yourself overwhelmed.

Finally, long-distance runners must always remember to recover after a race. This includes stretching, resting and replenshing your body with the nutrients and energy used during the race. Public relations recovery involves the evaluation and stewardship steps of the R.O.P.E.S. process.

So, as I run in my first half marathon this weekend and find myself victoriously crossing the finish line, I will hope to find our campaign for SmokingWords as successful as what is sure to be one of my greatest personal accomplishments.

To learn more about me and my public relations endeavors, follow me on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

SmokingWords: Taking Baby Steps in the Quest for a Tobacco-Free Campus

“The person determined to achieve maximum success learns the principle that progress is made one step at a time. A house is built one brick at a time. Football games are won a play at a time. A department store grows bigger one customer at a time. Every big accomplishment is a series of little accomplishments.” ~David Joseph Schwartz

As we continue on our journey in our campaign for SmokingWords, I now realize the importance of taking everyt task one step at a time.

As a group, we have developed so many engaging ideas for “Kick Butts Day” and the campaign as a whole. However, we realize that we may be getting ahead of ourselves, a bring the focus back to the task at hand. With “Kick Butts Day” right around the corner on March 21, we feel as though time is limited. However, we know the importance of research and its role as the first step in the R.O.P.E.S. process. Thus, the past few weeks have been devoted primarily to researching our client, tobacco habits and developing and distributing a survey to the student body of LSU.

Because Dr. Sylvester is administering primary research for the campaign, PlanIt Public Relations does not have a designated research director. While this may pose as a challenge to some, the members of PlanIt Public Relations took on the task together, and successfully completed a comprehensive research report this past week. We combined all of our individual secondary research, Dr. Sylvester’s 2010 survey results and our thoughts concerning the research at hand and its relation to our campaign objectives.

Although the research report proved to be a tedious task, I now understand its importance to the success of our campaign. Having all of our background information compiled into one report makes it easier for us to strategically identify exactly what our campaign should entail. It also gives us the opportunity to see what information we still need to gather through primary research concerning the student body at LSU.

While in the process of constructing the report, we also worked together to develop and distribute a survey. Topics covered in the survey include tobacco use habits, thoughts and opinions about the possibility of LSU moving to a tobacco-free campus and places on campus in which seconhand smoke is an issue or nuisance. Our survey can be accessed here. We will consider the results of this survey throughout the planning and implementation phases of our campaign, and will include the results in our final campaign report.

On Tuesday, February 9, we observed a meeting with Sylvester and two members of the Faculty Senate Tobacco-Free Campus Ad Hoc Committee. Through observation, we learned that it takes collaboration, time and devotion to make our initiative a reality. Sylvester takes baby steps each and every day concerning SmokingWords. She is currently in the process of obtaining grants from Tobacco Free Living, or TFL, and the National Institutes of Health, or NIH, for the initiative. To do so, she must acquire signed letters of approval from the LSU Faculty Senate, student government association and the university president. Although this may take some time and persuasion, doing so will take us one step closer in our movement to a tobacco-free campus.

Sylvester stressed in this most recent meeting that our task is to engage the student body and make them aware of the potential harms and risks associated with allowing tobacco on campus and the benefits of LSU moving to a tobacco-free campus. Thus, we have a difficult task at hand, but must not get ahead of ourselves.

The field of public relations involves taking baby steps. Although it may not seem like we will ever reach the end or finish by a designated deadline, we have to take each task one step at a time. I have no doubt in my mind that PlanIt Public Relations will prosper and bring positive exposure to SmokingWords and its initiative IF we take things one step at a time.

Upon completion of our research report, I now focus my attention on my next task as PlanIt Public Relations‘ writing director: social media. I have created a Facebook page and Twitter account for SmokingWords, but am still in the process of branding the pages and gathering a following. If you are interested, please “like” us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Both pages are a work in progress, but are coming along one step at a time.

Stay tuned! There is so much more to come!

For more information on my public relations and life endeavors, follow me on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

And so it begins…

When I first came to LSU, I had every intention of becoming a journalist. While the field of journalism still interests and excites me, my path has lead me here, to my final class in pursuit of a career in public relations. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my professional career than working in public relations. Through my studies at LSU, I have come to love the field and long to prosper as a PR professional. The past three and a half  years have flown by, but I am so excited for what the wonderful world of public relations has to offer.

I was very excited to begin work on my final campaign project with my group. We have been given the task of developing an educational awareness campaign concerning the negative effects of smoking for SmokingWords, a campus initiative headed by Dr. Judith Sylvester. We have a great group. I believe that we work well together and all have the same positive and enthusiaistic attitude about the project.

We jumped right into the project in our first group meeting by discussing research and information we found concerning our campaign. We also devised a plan and approach to present to Dr. Sylvester in our first client meeting. Finally, we officially named our firm: PlanIt Public Relations.

PlanIt Public Relations

Our company logo, designed by Erin Bernard

Our first client meeting was a success. We tossed around ideas with Dr. Sylvester, and she explained to us exactly what she wants in the campaign. At the same time, she gave us free reign to be creative and follow any strategy we see necessary. We then finalized our letter of agreement, which included our basic objectives for the campaign:

1. Update and maintain the SmokingWords website

2. Implement a social media campaign

3. Plan an event to coincide with “Kick Butts Day,” which will take place March 21, 2012

4. Design and create promotional materials

5. Create and develop framework for student organization

6. Develop a crisis communication plan

I believe our group is going to maintain a positive relationship with Dr. Sylvester throughout this campaign. We decided to take an educational and awareness approach to our campaign. Dr. Sylvester explained that the issue of smoking on campus comes down to the idea of RESPECT: respect for your campus, respect for your peers and respect for yourself. This is what we want to convey in our campaign.

After reading an editorial in The Reveille combatting the anti-smoking movement, we realized exactly what we are up against and the opposition we may face throughout the process. We want to educate the student body at LSU concerning the negative effects of smoking. However, we do not want to promote any sort of conflict. If something were to arise, we have decided to develop a crisis communication plan for our campaign. This plan will cover everything from the smallest incident at our event on “Kick Butts Day” to the threat of confrontation by those opposing the initiative.

Before I wrap things up, I’d like to touch on my thoughts concerning the public relations field and the direction in which it is headed. I believe this can be summed up in one word: TECHNOLOGY. Technology, the use of blogs, social media and other forms of advanced communication have drastically changed the world of PR. As professionals, we must recognize this change and take the challenge head-on to incorporate these changes in our campaigns and initiatives.

Because of the developments in our profession over the past decade, PRSA has decided to update the definition of public relations. You can view their proposed new definitions here. I believe a new definition is definitely needed, and I believe it must continue to include public relations as a management function, while taking into account a broader view of the purpose of public relations.

I’ll be the first to admit that I am not technologically savvy. However, I am anxious to learn through the use of this blog and other forms of social media the importance of these outlets in my chosen field of study. I am excited to be a part of this new era in public relations, and hope to use some of these technological skills directly in our campaign for SmokingWords.