Current Communications recaps its PR campaign progress with client Youth Oasis

The following blog post was written by Seth DiSalvo, design director for Current Communications.

Where has all the time gone?

When Current Communications first started our journey with Youth Oasis, we did not realize how exciting and challenging this endeavor would be. Our biggest challenge was similar to the analogy of the needle in the haystack. Current Communications was given the task to make an “invisible” organization “visible” in the Baton Rouge community.

So, where did we start?

Our first leg on this journey involved collecting information about our key publics- which we determined were 30-45 year-old professionals in the Greater Baton Rouge area. We also looked at scientific evidence based on psychology to further understand how our publics responded-or rather how they hadn’t responded- to Youth Oasis and the services that it provided.

Youth Oasis is a children’s shelter that provides a meal, a bed and other essentials needed to survive. However, the more we worked with Youth Oasis, we discovered that what these children  really needed was a home. In the typical definition of a home, most understand that food and shelter are a given. What these children need are attention and care.

Rafael de Castro, the executive director of Youth Oasis, shared that food, shelter and other physical items are provided for the children for the most part by the community and the Department of Children and Family Services. What is a constant struggle is being able to find the funds to pay the bills (electricity, water and other building expenses) to keep the shelter open. By no means is the shelter in danger of shutting down, but there is a constant effort from all of the staff at Youth Oasis to apply for grants and other monetary help. These funds help to pay for the social worker and other individuals who help to ensure the children are both physically and mentally healthy. Many of the children at the shelter come from many different circumstances and backgrounds. The children at the shelter face similar challenges that one sees in the real world. In some instances, these children will face more challenges than the average child.

One such example is the challenge of getting these children to school and to get them to understand the importance of it for their future. Due to some of the experiences that these children have had to come to terms with, school comes secondary in their thoughts over simply surviving. A harsh reality for children in any shelter is that the moment that he or she turns 18, he or she is on their own. Therefore, it is crucial that shelters such as Youth Oasis get funding to help shelter and educate children of this reality.

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Taking into account all of this, Current Communications knew that it was imperative that we gave a face to Youth Oasis.

Yet another challenge arose.

Due to laws to protect the identity of the children at the shelter, we could not use the names or faces of the children to speak about what Youth Oasis does for the children. All of our tactics and goals had to take this into consideration when raising awareness for the shelter.

As part of our campaign, we planned an event called Family Fest to help reach families who understand the needs of children.

Our event was a success! We had a bouncy house, a reporter from the Advocate, a fire-breather and live bands (The Heaters and Strangers and Light.) play for the event in an effort to raise awareness for Youth Oasis.

It was an amazing moment to witness Rafael de Castro and the pastor of the church shake hands, symbolizing a potential future partnership between the two organizations.

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This gesture, the shaking of hands, sums up how the Current Communications group worked as a team. By the time of the event, we had formed such a trust with each other in the group that we could anticipate challenges before they arose. We were ready to spring into action at a moments notice at the onset of a challenge. Each group member performed his or her tasks, as well as assisted with other tasks “outside” of their direct responsibilities on numerous occasions.

Each member of Current Communications has an inexhaustible list of lessons and stories about what each has learned along the way during this campaign that will be carried forward into the “real world.”

Each member of Current Communications at the beginning of this journey was concerned about the grade that we were to receive on our transcript. We learned through this incredible experience that it never was about the grade, for grades are nonexistent in the “real world.” Rather, it was about learning how to come together with different learning styles, different experiences, different talents and different perspectives to be a part of something that was bigger than each of us individually.

Current Communications may be a PR firm that was created for an academic purpose, but the skills and life lessons that each has learned as a result are priceless.

Check out Current Communication’s progress over the past few months with Youth Oasis.

For more information about Youth Oasis, visit its website, Facebook or Twitter

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Professionalism & Ethics: Two necessities in Current Communications’ campaign for Youth Oasis

The following blog post was written by Lexi Verret, event director for Current Communications. 

Professionalism and ethics are two important principles in the field of public relations. The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) has a code of ethics that outlines the professional values that PR practitioners should follow. The professional values are as follows:

  • Advocacy
  • Honesty
  • Expertise
  • Independence
  • Loyalty
  • Fairness
Professionalism
http://www.abimfoundation.org/Professionalism/Medical-Professionalism.aspx

In order to represent and advance the profession, all of the PRSA professional values should go into every interaction with a client, the work produced for the client and the interactions on behalf of the client. As PR professionals, we are the face of our clients. When the client’s audience pictures the organization or brand, often times they see the practitioner that speaks on its behalf. It is this reason alone that the highest standard of professionalism and ethics should be upheld in profession. Current Communications practices professionalism as it is defined by Merriam Webster, which is “the skill, good judgment and polite behavior that is expected from a person who is trained to do a job well.” The agency believes that in order to complete a job effectively, the practitioner must interact with individuals, media and clients in a way that is respectful, proficient and ethical. Our agency also practices ethical behavior as Webster defines it, which are “rules of conduct based on what is morally good or bad.” As PR practitioners, it is important to apply the definition of ethics and the PRSA code of ethics to produce ethical behavior that is relevant to our specific field.

The agency has followed these standards throughout its campaign for Youth Oasis. One of the goals of the campaign kick-off event, Family Fest, was to raise awareness for our client. As an acting representation of Youth Oasis, it was crucial to practice professionalism and to behave ethically during the preparations for the event. If our agency did not adhere to the professional standards and code of ethics, our awareness efforts would have resulted in a negative connotation with Youth Oasis instead of a favorable one.

http://grantchat.org/2014/09/professionalism-for-grant-pros/
http://grantchat.org/2014/09/professionalism-for-grant-pros/

The agency members had to keep all of the professional values and PRSA Code of Ethics in mind during every step of the planning process. Through our interactions with donors and sponsors, we had to be honest, fair and advocate for Youth Oasis. These values in particular were important in the planning process in order to secure a mutually beneficial relationship between Youth Oasis and future benefactors. As a result of this, our agency secured future partnerships with Acacia Church and Kendra Scott for our client. Our agency is thankful that our clients’ ethical standards and professionalism aligned with our own. While some agencies have a different experience, it is extremely important to remain professional and to practice ethical behavior in the field of PR, despite the actions of others.  For more information about Youth Oasis, visit its website, Facebook or Twitter

The Benefits of PR Evaluation for Current Communication and Youth Oasis

The following blog post was written by Abby Thevenot, research director for Current Communications

As the semester comes to a close, and our campaign comes to an end, Current Communications is at a crucial step in the process. After Youth Oasis hosts its Family Fest event at Acacia Church on Sunday, April 19, we will begin evaluating not only our campaign and our hard work, but also the event and our effect on the public.

There are many components of a campaign that need to be evaluated: goals, objectives, tactics and more. Although this takes time and can be tedious, there are many benefits for conducting proper PR evaluation. According to PRSA, properly evaluating a campaign can validate results, link the results to business outcome to further the achievement of the organization, credibly merchandise the impact of results, set better objectives, develop better strategies, employ more engaging tactics, make midcourse adjustments and adapt measurement approaches over time (http://goo.gl/EM5V0P).

These are all great benefits of evaluating a campaign. By having valid results to link to  the achievement of our organization, and learning what you can do better, your campaign have a significant chance to greatly improve.

Throughout our campaign, Current Communications has also had to make adjustments in order to better our campaign. Our goals, objectives, strategies and tactics have all changed for reasons we believe improved our campaign. The changes we have made have not only helped us, but also made our client happy, which is always important in public relations.

After our event, we plan to send out another survey, which we hope will give us better insight as to what our audience has learned and how their perspective of Youth Oasis has changed. By doing so, we will be able to gather more information to evaluate to hopefully improve even further. Although the members of Current Communications graduate in May, we hope that we are leaving Youth Oasis with enough knowledge and tools to continue our efforts and make Youth Oasis a better place.

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Current Communications creates PR tactics to reach Youth Oasis’ publics

The following blog post was written by Seth DiSalvo, design director for Current Communications.

Research gathered. Check. Publics identified. Check.

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After the backbreaking work of collecting all of this data and crunching the numbers, how is this all translated into deliverable tactics that will help the organization grow and prosper?

Everything goes back to the mission of the organization, which is the heart of the organization.

“To provide emergency shelter and necessary support services to runaway, abandoned, and homeless youth ages 10 – 25 within the Baton Rouge Area, enabling them to transition into responsible and successful citizens.”

Youth Oasis Mission Statement

Current Communications, as expressed by its name, operates under the guiding principle that information must be current and speak to the core message, or heart of the organization. Following the guidelines of Youth Oasis’ mission, each of the tactics and channels used to create awareness for Youth Oasis must match this statement.

In every social media post, each graphic created and each piece of written communication must be paid careful attention in order to effectively communicate and educate the people in the Greater Baton Rouge area about the services that Youth Oasis offers.

thanksgiving1Based on psychological research on Ericson’s Stages of Psychological Development, people who are ages 30-45 fall under a category of individuals who start to feel responsible for giving back to their community and in turn back to themselves. (Everyone knows the positive feeling one experiences when giving back to others. Why else do we have a holiday based on giving thanks?)

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Not many people would debate helping out someone in need. But there is a disconnect. One can come up with a million ideas on paper, but it is motivating publics to donate their time, money or effort to help out an organization that is a real challenge. Why is this so?

The simple answer is that there are millions of people with millions of ideas competing for millions of peoples’ attention for his or her own organizations.

How does one stand out? The simple, yet challenging answer is to make people notice your organization.

Faced with this reality, Current Communications knows that engaging print and digital materials- whether that is press releases, event fliers, social media campaigns, infographics or pushcards- are a must in order for our clients to achieve their goals. Facebook and Twitter, especially,  must be utilized on a daily basis with content geared toward promoting the organization. We’ve found through our primary research that Youth Oasis’ key public uses Facebook daily, so focusing on that channel has been a major aspect of our campaign so far.

With the continued expansion of platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Vimeo and countless others being created, it is imperative that Youth Oasis and other organizations let their messages be seen. The key is that these messages always reinforce its mission.

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In the end, it must come full circle. In any tactic utilized, the individuals who donated time, money and effort must know that organization cares about them as well.

The Importance of PR Strategies for Current Communications and Youth Oasis

The following blog post was written by Sandra Castillo, strategy director for Current Communications.

Previously our research director Abby Thevenot discussed the importance of research and how Current Communications found the key publics for Youth Oasis. We established that professionals within the ages of 30 – 45 preferably with children are the target audience for our client.

Being able to determine the client’s key audience is a critical component with determining strategies and tactics. It is a factor that the team will constantly refer back to when making tactical decisions.

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Working with Youth Oasis our goal is to raise awareness within the Baton Rouge community. As public relations professionals that means seeking out owned and earned media. Available to us is the social media accounts and the existing media lists. Our team has updated the media list and written media advisories to alert the media of the happenings at Youth Oasis. We recently received attention from The Advocate the local newspaper in Baton Rouge. Youth Oasis is having an event called Sleep Out for Change, which fundraises and encourages people in the community to place themselves in the shoes of the homeless youth. It is a great example of strategically reaching out to the media and gaining coverage.

Relationships with the media are to be cared for. Journalists are always looking for a new story. However any old tidbit of information will not do. There are factors such as timeliness, rarity and prominence that determine whether the organizations news is newsworthy. It is imperative to understand this concept before reaching out to media. What is important to the organization is not always important to the media.

In terms of owned media, social media a great way to create a brand. It is a platform where you can control the message and funnel the pertinent information that journalist may not cover. In our current media environment social media fits into the efforts made to reaching our audience. “As of January 2014, 74% of online adults use social networking sites (PEW Research).” It is the prime way to reach an audience directly. However that does not mean we should engage in all social networks. Once again we look back at our key audience and find the platforms that they are most present in. Our audience in mainly on Facebook, thus it would not be strategic to promote on Tumblr or Vine, where the primary users and young adults. Therefore our strategies focus on social media platforms, Facebook and Twitter.

For more information on Youth Oasis, visit its website, Facebook or Twitter.

We’re excited to announce that we are OFFICIALLY hosting the Youth Oasis Family Fest to benefit Youth Oasis Children’s Shelter. We have partnered with incredible team at Acacia Church and will be holding this stellar event at their facility. Keep following along with us to see the progress of this super exciting event.

The Importance of Public Relations Research for Current Communications and Youth Oasis

The following blog post was written by Abby Thevenot, research director for Current Communications

Research is not what people typically think of as the most exciting part of a public relations campaign, but it is essential. Research is the basis of any successful campaign. It tells you where to start, where to end and how to improve your results.

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In this article published by PR Daily, it states that there are four ways doing research can gain new business. One of the reasons that stood out to me the most was that research helps you to demonstrate your understanding of the client, which is exactly what Current Communications is trying to do through our survey. By gathering more information about our target audience through primary research, we will be about to take our findings back to our client and show them exactly who is aware of Youth Oasis, how the organization is perceived by their key public and what needs to be done to improve the organization. Another reason that stood out to me was to show that you are willing to go the extra mile. Current Communications is always striving to do our best work and keep our client happy. By doing our research, it will be easier to satisfy our client by providing our best work. Lastly, according to PR Daily, doing research helps you stay ahead of the curve. That is essentially the mission of Current Communications, to stay up to date with trends and use that knowledge to propel our clients and our work forward.

According to an article by Snap Surveys, the main reasons to conduct research using a survey are to uncover answers, evoke discussion, base decisions on objective information and compare results. This is why we thought a survey would be the perfect way to gather the information we need to produce a successful campaign.

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With recent approval from IRB, Current Communications has finally begun distributing a survey to gain more knowledge about young professionals, ages 30-45, in the Baton Rouge area and their perceptions of Youth Oasis and local nonprofits. So far, our survey has told us that not many people know about Youth Oasis and the services it provides. This brings us to one of our campaign objectives and the purpose of our kickoff event, which is to raise awareness for Youth Oasis. Based on the survey results we have received so far, we know that in order to garner more funding, more people need to know about Youth Oasis and what a great organization it is.

For more information on Youth Oasis, visit its website, Facebook or Twitter.

We’re excited to announce that we are OFFICIALLY hosting the Youth Oasis Family Fest to benefit Youth Oasis Children’s Shelter. We have partnered with incredible team at Acacia Church and will be holding this stellar event at their facility. Keep following along with us to see the progress of this super exciting event.

Public relations writing: How Current Communications is using this foundation to build relationships between Youth Oasis and its publics

The following blog post was written by Kaitlyn Mercer, writing director for Current Communications.

There’s really only one thing that sets us millennium-age humans apart from our primitive ancestors.

Hint: it isn’t the hairstyles. char-caveman-0

Our forefathers communicated with symbols and pictographs that got the message across, but they didn’t quite have the clarity or finesse of today’s written language. Cave-friends couldn’t text about their crazy night out, so they resigned to communicating and recording messages with simple pictures.

Wait a second. Caveman symbols sound dangerously close to these things.

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Societal regression: DO NOT WANT.

We’ve come a long way since cave drawings (though some habits die hard. I’m side-eye facing you, emojis), and the foundation of communication is certainly adequate writing. From a public relations perspective, communication is everything.

A PR professional without excellent writing skills… No words can describe.

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From the mouth of the communication expert himself, Ron Burgundy.

We at Current Communications take great care to ensure we thoroughly educate ourselves and write with our client’s message and key publics in mind. This Forbes article was particularly inspiring to yours truly. As writing director, I’m able to use my greatest passion– writing– and apply my skills and knowledge to the Youth Oasis campaign that we’re working on at Current Communications. The article suggests that perfectly tailored and timed pitch letters and press releases are key to reaching the media and your publics. The article also encourages PR professionals to think out of the box and be controversial, sharp and opinionated. Done, done and done.

Current Communications is waist deep in writing deliverables for our Youth Oasis campaign, so this blog post is at a most opportune time. While we’re writing fundraising letters, media advisories and campaign book elements, we are always brainstorming and writing through the lens of raising awareness for Youth Oasis’ services in Baton Rouge. We’re writing so often and connecting with people in the community so frequently that you’d think we were putting on a huge festival in support of Youth Oasis.

We at Current Communications are pretty devoted to writing the best content possible for our clients. So devoted that we’re even listening to a podcast about it. If there’s one thing we want to do well, it’s write clearly and effectively.

We don’t want to have this situation:

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For more information on Youth Oasis, visit its website, Facebook or Twitter.

Subscribe to the blog, or the next post will be complete gibberish. We’re not kidding. Unless that’s what you want to read, then we should adjust our PR strategy. Or you should see a doctor.

In other news, we’ve got a really exciting announcement coming up. I would tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.

Okay, we’re not that extreme. Put on your thinking cap, and I bet you can find some clues in this post as to what the event might entail.