Thursday, April 27, 2017

Reflection, Unit 4.2

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This unit of PR writing was so much fun. We did a photo story and wrote cutlines for each picture we used. The last unit was about sound with the radio PSA. This was all about the visuals.

Our assignment was to piece together a photo story on a PowerPoint slideshow and write cutlines for each photo. The story had to revolve around a campus event. I chose Choctaw Day as my event to use.

This was the first year for Choctaw Day. The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and OU Office of University Community sponsored the event, which took place on the South Oval, April 19. The purpose was to connect the OU community with Choctaw culture through cultural activities, such as stickball and social dancing. Since I am one of the few public relations majors in our campus group, Choctaws of OU, I handled the public relations efforts on campus by making flyers, pitching the story to the OU Daily and taking over OU's Snapchat for the day. 

The day was a huge success. We received lots of positive feedback, especially on the Snapchat takeover. I took around 600 photos to use in a recap video that I will be putting together for the Choctaws of OU end-of-year banquet.

The first step in completing this assignment was to choose the photos that told the story well. I chose nine, the number needed for completing this assignment. I then put them in the proper sequence and began writing my cutlines, starting with the first sentence in the present tense that describes the action in the photo, followed by subsequent sentences that give context or broaden the story. Since I took so many interesting photos, this was not difficult at all. 

I finished the assignment by formatting the slideshow properly and fixing a few issues in the cutlines themselves. I was very pleased with the final product. This skill will be immensely helpful in my future career since PR people are often the ones holding the camera at events. Knowing how to tell a story using photos and cutlines will be crucial. 

Writing cutlines has always been something that I feel I'm good at. This assignment gave me the opportunity to continue practicing this valuable skill.

I can't believe the semester is almost over. Only next week and finals week to go...

Off the Cutting Room Floor

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The end is finally here. The end of the PR pubs video project

It has been a long road, but arriving at this point was definitely worth it. I am very pleased with my final video. The skills I learned throughout this project will be immensely useful in the future, especially for a noob like me when it comes to video. 

I worked on the video a little Monday afternoon. Even though this week has been intense for me, having a ten-page paper over World War II, a French composition, a PR Writing assignment, a social media marketing campaign and my Choctaw banquet all on my plate, I managed to find plenty of time to refine my video. On Monday, I made sure that all of the media I wanted to include in my video was on my timeline in Adobe Premiere. I tweaked it some, still needing to fix a few issues and make sure my content was succinct. 

On Tuesday, in class, we took a short break from the PR pubs grind to hear the story of Kasey Kinney, a Gaylord grad who has been in the workforce for a while now. Her degree was in public relations. She is now currently working in real estate, where she has had ample opportunity to apply her public relations skills. Her story was very touching, and I am very pleased that she shared it with us. 

On Wednesday, I found more time to refine my video. I made a few adjustments to help the flow. After completing all these changes, I rushed off to put the finishing touches on my World War II research paper. The topic I had chosen, was looking at print advertisements from Time, Life, and The New Yorker, from 1941, to examine how brands crafted defense-related messages to create brand awareness, generate brand loyalty, and stimulate purchasing.  I hope it is well-received. The paper was due at 9 a.m., a few hours before PR pubs on, on Thursday. 

I put the finishing touches on my video on Thursday during class. I exported it and added it to YouTube. I am very happy with the final product. It's not by any means perfect, but it did teach me how to piece together a good story. The thing I am proudest of is how the story is strung together. 

These skills will come in handy this week as I will be creating a video over Choctaw Day for the Choctaws of OU banquet. I will squeeze that in sometime around the French composition that is due on Friday... I am so ready for summer. 

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Friday, April 21, 2017

On the Cutting Room Floor

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With our StoryCorps interviews filmed, we began the process of putting together and editing our interviews into coherent videos for our latest PR pubs project. Onto the cutting room floor for us.

On Tuesday, I watched my entire interview with Sierra Abbott again, thinking of a possible theme that would shorten the nearly 11-minute-long interview into a two-and-a-half-minute video. Since I asked many questions about her life at OU, I decided on that theme and made a list of all the segments from the interview that centered on that theme.

The result was a group of sections that focused on why she chose OU, how she established herself at OU, what she likes about OU, her proudest Sooner moment, etc. After choosing the sections, I brought the interview over into my Premiere timeline and began cutting clips. This took nearly the entire day on Tuesday.

With my clips selected, I had some free time Thursday before class to edit some more. I changed the order of the clips and cleaned some of them up. My video was now down to three minutes. I had to make some serious decisions on where to cut. My focus was Sierra's experience at OU. Keeping this in mind, I cut a section where she talked about her plans after college. This saved me about 30 seconds worth of video. After a few more tweaks and cleaning, my video was about two-minutes-and-twenty-seconds long. 

I brought in some B-roll I took around campus and around Gaylord Hall. I feel that I didn't have enough B-roll. In addition, the B-roll I had was very impersonal. I asked Sierra if she could get me some pictures of her doing things with her sorority and at Soonerthon since she was heavily involved with that initiative this year. She gave me several pictures that I will be able to easily incorporate into my video. 

For the background music track, I searched through the music provided by our instructor to find something that would create a good tone to the interview. One track was a soft guitar. It would create a laid back atmosphere for the video that was neither too serious or unprofessional. 

My StoryCorps video project is near completion. With a little more editing and modifying, I think the video will be good quality and probably better than anything else I have created thus far in my creative career. I am hoping to have it completely finished by the end of next week which should be easy to do. I just have to finish a 10-page paper, a French composition, a PR writing assignment, the first half of a book and content for a social media marketing campaign. Just the usual work for an up-and-coming PR pro.  

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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Lights. Camera. Action.

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Now that we have had a good walkthrough with Adobe Premiere, this week in PR pubs was our opportunity to be directors and start the process of creating our video interviews. 

Tuesday, we made a quick class field trip to the Gaylord Cage. To all non-Gaylord students, this might sound a little frightening, like a dungeon or something. It's just the place where we can rent audio and video equipment for production. 

When we arrived, we got a crash course in how to use our tool of choice, the Nikon D7100. This was not foreign territory for me at all, since I use my D3300 almost daily. The D7100 does have more fancy bells and whistles, but the experience varies very little with my camera. In addition to the camera, we also got shotgun mics to record our interviews. 

I checked out the equipment for me and my partner in this assignment. I also checked out a tripod, since we would need to have a good stable surface to steady our camera. 

Armed with memory cards courtesy of our instructor (Thanks, Adam), on Thursday, we started filming. I wanted my interview to come off as conversational as possible, so I chose just a few questions from the StoryCorps list. My partner Sierra Abbott and I decided to use one of the seating areas on the third floor of Gaylord as our setting. After setting up the camera and framing the shot, I interviewed her first. 

My plan of being conversational was sort of a fail. The reason being that I shifted my focus of the interview. I asked many questions, and Sierra answered them so well and was very patient with me. She deserves an A for being so helpful. After getting her interview, I ran back to the computer lab and transferred the video onto a computer to free some space for my interview and B-roll.

I went back and did my interview. Sierra asked some good questions and was very conversational. After filming the entire interview, I realized that I forgot to turn the mic back on. So, we reshot the entire interview. With only about 15 minutes left of class, we began shooting a little bit of B-roll around Gaylord. After that, we went back to the lab and transferred our video once again. 

After class, we shot a little more B-roll. On Monday, I will probably get some more B-roll to be ready for class on Tuesday, where we get to take this project closer to its final form. 

Have a Veep GIF. It comes back April 16 at 10:30. GIF from Tumblr.

Reflection, Unit 4.1

Microphones for Broadcast
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Shifting the focus off writing for reading, like with the Op-Ed and letter to the editor from last unit, this unit in public relations writing was about shifting to writing for the ear in a broadcast. We examined writing public service announcements for both radio and television, with the final project being a PSA script for radio. 

I haven't worked much with writing for broadcast. During my freshman and sophomore years at Eastern Oklahoma State College, I had the opportunity to take a video production class where we could learn about writing for visual broadcast. Unfortunately, my schedule never allowed me to take this class. 

Since then, the only experience I've had with writing for broadcast was writing two scripts in Writing for Mass Media, JMC-2033. One script was for radio and the other was a VOSOT for television. At the time, I didn't think I would utilize broadcast writing in my future career.

When we think of public relations professionals, we automatically associate them with producing written content, like news releases, position papers, etc., video, social media posts, and other things. We rarely think of public relations professionals writing scripts for PSAs to be used in radio or television. 

I don't feel that I am bad at writing scripts. I feel like the scripts I produce are plain and uninteresting. After seeing the power of PSAs in this unit, I realized the importance of learning this specific type of writing. PSAs are great ways of reaching our publics via television and radio. 

There are a thousand ways to skin a cat, as we say in southeastern Oklahoma. I think the same could be said of script writing. I have seen multiple formats of scripts. The important thing, in my opinion, is writing a script that communicates to producers what is going to be said, heard and seen in the proper sequence. This assignment helped me think about the spot in real-time and how it would sound to an audience. 

Putting that into practice was simple. I wrote my PSA for PRSSA's Panel on Inclusion. I included a hook and all the facts that one would need to know for the event. It's not the flashiest of PSAs, but it does get the job done, in my opinion. 

Now that I know the importance of PSAs and broadcasts in public relations, I will look for more avenues of practicing writing scripts and producing pieces. That way, I can become even more valuable in the field with an extensive set of skills.  

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Reflection, Unit 3.6

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Opinions. Everyone has one. As public relations professionals, we will have plenty of opportunities to advocate for our organizations with op-eds and letters to the editor. Last week in public relations writing, we had a little fun with the feature story. The Op-Ed and letter to the editor we wrote this week were just as fun. 

The key to these two is having an opinion and expressing it in well-though-out arguments that are backed up with strong support in favor of what you're saying. Op-Eds are usually around 800 words and letters to the editor are even shorter, at around 150 words. Op-Eds are well researched with plenty of evidence to use to prove an argument. 

Since we were given the liberty to choose our subjects for these two pieces, I chose Oklahoma teacher pay for the Op-Ed and collegiate athlete pay. The letter to the editor was in response to an article published by the Tulsa World. 

My Op-Ed looked at the reasons we need to raise teacher pay. I did careful research and made sure to cite recent events to give it currency. I argued four points and gave a few possible solutions, in the end, to tie it all together.

For the letter to the editor, I found an article on the Tulsa World that argued in favor of giving salaries to collegiate athletes since they bring so much profit to colleges and universities. I feel quite strongly about this subject. In my opinion, people go to college to get an education. That is why we have universities in the first place. I know many people who could have killed it in college because of their potential and intelligence. Yet, because they are from a less fortunate background, they couldn't attend college. At colleges and universities, we have athletes who get special perks and treatment all so they can throw a ball. I think no one should get a scholarship or a perk for playing a sport. That's just my opinion. It's not a popular one, but there it is. 

Public relations professionals will have to know how to write a detailed, well-researched opinion in order to advocate for their organization. This unit taught me even further the importance of research and how it can build your argument. 

I haven't ever been amazing at persuasive arguing. However, I feel that this unit and other recent units in this course has helped me to argue persuasively. As a result, I feel more confident about writing PR Op-Eds in my future career. 

This assignment was fun because it really makes you think about how your arguments would be received by opposition. If your arguments can't hold water, your opinion that is based around them is worth much either. 

Premiere Part II

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After becoming more familiar with my love and hatred of Adobe Premiere last week in PR pubs, this week was about revisiting Premiere and the course over premiere and getting a better perspective on it.

On Tuesday, we looked at our video project, which will be a short interview with a partner inspired by Story Corps. For those of you who have never heard of Story Corps, Story Corp is a story sharing platform designed to record stories of regular individuals via a recorded interview. It's a really interesting project. The TED Talk over its inception is inspiring. 

In creating this project, each group of two individuals will interview each other and create videos of the other. The aim is to get a two-and-a-half-minute-long video highlighting something interesting from that person's story. 

With the project being introduced, we spent the rest of class on Tuesday and Thursday's class revisiting Adobe Premiere, since last week our going through the Lynda tutorials may have been a little spotty or confusing. Instead of following along with the tutorial in Premiere, I just watched the tutorial. I feel that this time around I absorbed more about what we are supposed to be doing on a video project and less of the technical aspects and execution itself in Premiere. The shortcuts and tips are important, but equally important is knowing what constitutes good editing versus terrible editing. Those principles will be foremost on my mind in working on the Story Corps project. 

I'm glad we are getting to work with video because I think it's probably the most powerful medium. If pictures are worth a thousand words, then videos must be worth millions. In addition, the skills I'm learning in Premiere will be put to the test soon. I have been handling the Choctaws of OU communications efforts. At the end of the semester, we will be having a banquet where the director of College and Career Resources will be there, similarly to the banquet for which I made a video (if you want to hear the story, see my previous post.). I want to produce a video for it. 

Since the last banquet, I feel that I have seasoned in my understanding of the strategic communication process. I also feel that I will have the tools to make a moving video that will potentially be seen by a program director. 

All of this aside, I am very much looking forward to working on the Story Corps project. It is my hope that I will learn some helpful tips and tricks that will aid me in completing my Choctaws of OU video project. 

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