On October 28, 2011, I had the pleasure of interviewing Brandt Merritt. Brandt Merritt works at Southeastern University in their Enrollment Marketing department. Although he has been employed in this position for only nine months, he still had some helpful hints for aspiring public relations professionals.

Me: What is a typical week like for you?

Merritt: I am involved in social media, so for me it’s a lot of promoting the university on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. For us, it’s a little more marketing opposed to PR, so there’s always publications that we’re working on like the financial aid brochures. I write most of the content for the publications, whether it’s writing a blurb or a story about something that happened on campus. I guess it’s not set week to week. We work on different projects as they come and go.

Me: Tell me about a project that you worked on recently that you’re especially proud of.

Merritt: The biggest one this year was probably what we call the Viewbook. It’s the bigger publication that prospective students get in the mail, and the one we did this year was about 24 pages. Previously there was an outside company that helped us with these things, but this year we had to start from scratch, so all the content and wording I had to come up with on my own. It took weeks to get it all done. Well also incorporated QR codes into the Viewbook. When you can it, it takes it to a video of some professors and students just talking about Southeastern. It turned out really good.

Me: What do you do to keep current in the industry?

Merritt: I read a lot of other people’s material, and Twitter is great to keep up with different people. Just following trend setters is a great way to do it.

Me: What do you wish you would have known before starting your career?

Merritt: I was actually a journalist before starting this position and when I had just graduated college, social media was not as big. So it’s not like we had an whole lot of preparation in college for how you could use it professionally. In this field social media is big when trying to connect to both perspective and current student, and I quickly figured this out. if I had a base knowledge of this going in, it would’ve been helpful.

Me: How important is writing in your career?

Merritt: Pretty important. Communicating is a huge part of what everyone is doing know, and everyone can do it. You can get a blog, start a website, or get on Facebook, but being able to present ideas and thoughts clearly and without being too wordy is just very important. It takes time to develop, and it’s necessary. I don’t think there ever not gonna be a need for not being able to write well. Obviously in this position if you can’t write well, you can’t be in it.

Me: What are three tips you would offer someone just starting out in Public Relations?

Merritt: Be humble, because you are kinda providing a service for somebody. Not all your ideas that you present are going to be accepted, and you can’t get bent out of shape if someone doesn’t think as highly of your work as you do. Another thing is just to get as much experience as you can. Nowadays people don’t pay for internships as much as they did, but even if you get an unpaid internship, take the opportunity to get the experience because that’s really what matters. Degrees are important, but it’s really the experience and work examples that matter in these kind of fields. The third one, just read. Read others peoples examples, and there’s always something to learn.

Me: What has surprised you most about working in your position?

Merritt: I think I have a different take coming from newspapers. It’s not really surprising in someways because I knew it was tough, but deadline pressure is constant. It doesn’t really end. And you have to be able to work well under that pressure.

Me: How does technology affect your daily work?

Merritt: It’s everything. And it’s always changing is the tough thing. You can never get settled into what you’re using. We use the Adobe Creative Suite and every year there’s always a new edition. You have to be able to adapt, because the new one’s are better than the one before.

You can find out more or connect with Brandt Merritt here.




Posted: Fri, Oct 28, 11 in Topics of the Week (COMM 2322)

“Ethics is concerned with how we should live our lives. It focuses on questions about what is right or wrong, fair or unfair, caring or uncaring, good or bad, responsible or irresponsible, and the like.” This quote comes from Communication Ethics: Methods of Analysis, a book written by James Jaksa and Michael Pritchard.

To me, I believe that public relations practitioners should be most concerned with the ethical side of every situation. Even though everyone in the corporate world do not come from a Christian background, I still believe an ethical PR practitioner is the best type. One does not have to come from a Christian background to be ethical, which is why I know that no matter what, it is always possible for a PR practitioner to be ethical.

Some things, like eating meat, are ethical matters that vary from person to person. But there are a few things that I believe everyone should have the same ethical view on. Everyone should know not to publish false information just to get ahead in a campaign, or even falsely advertise just to get consumers to support or buy a product.

The Public Relations Society of America has a code of ethics for its members. They are required to serve the public by acting as responsible advocates for clients or employers (advocacy), adhere to the highest standards of accuracy and truth (honesty), advance the profession through professional development, research and education (expertise), provide objective counsel and be accountable for actions (independence), be faithful to clients and employers, but also honoring an obligation to serve the public interest (loyalty), and respecting all opinions and supporting the right of free expression (fairness).

A code of ethics is a great way to ensure that all employees and being ethical in all of their decisions. Ethics is concerned with how we should live our lives. And we should strive to live an honest and ethical life.


*Information from Think! Public Relations.


Posted: Fri, Oct 21, 11 in Topics of the Week (COMM 2322)

I found the Online Media Law course from NewsU very interesting. It introduced me to many of the laws about the media and even let me play the role as a judge in mock situations.

  • What did I learn?

First of all, I learned that libel and slander are both types of defamation, libel is written while slander is spoken. I also learned that as a journalist one can be easily accused for defamation of character. To avoid, one should: strive to be as accurate as possible, use reliable sources, be will to correct or retract mistakes, be cautious when publishing negative information, and put a special not on material that has been submitted by others.

Another thing I learned is by gathering information in public places and from publicly available sources, and getting consent from the person covered, one can protect themselves from a possible invasion of privacy lawsuit.

  • What surprised me?

None of the information from this online course actually surprised me. The course just informed me about defamation of character, invasion of privacy, and copyright infringement,  and how a journalist can protect themselves from lawsuits of such nature.

  • What do you want to know more about?

I would like to know more about other possible ways a journalist can find themselves in trouble, even if the action was innocent. If I would have become a journalist before taking this online course, I wouldn’t have considered getting information from public places. I probably would’ve tried to get information from people who I thought would have given me something credible, and I possible could have gotten in trouble for it. If I can find out other ways to protect myself from lawsuits, I will be better suited for a safe and clean career in journalism.



Posted: Sat, Oct 15, 11 in PR Connections (COMM 2322)

In doing this week’s Topic of the Week blog, it got me thinking about marketing for some reason. Marketing is a very powerful machine in the world and is probably really the only way that one would be most likely to get their name out there. I googled great marketing tips and found this interesting website, and they were all inspired from a 6-year-old’s lemonade stand. Check it out.


Posted: Sat, Oct 15, 11 in PR Connections (COMM 2322)

On October 5, 2011 the world lost one of the greatest innovators they have ever had. The founder of Apple, Inc. Steve Jobs passed away.

Apple’s Board of Directors released this message:

“We are deeply saddened to announce that Steve Jobs passed away today.
Steve’s brilliance, passion and energy were the source of countless innovations that enrich and improve all of our lives. The world is immeasurably better because of Steve.
His greatest love was for his wife, Laurene, and his family. Our hearts go out to them and to all who were touched by his extraordinary gifts.”

After Jobs death, the New Yorker released a cover that depicted Steve Jobs at the gates of heaven. Even though this was probably meant with good intentions, the fact that Steve Jobs was a Buddhist stirred up controversy. Some people found the cover disrespectful to the late Steve Jobs.

Read the full story here.



Posted: Sat, Oct 15, 11 in Topics of the Week (COMM 2322)

Measuring the effectiveness of a public relations campaign is one of the most important things a PR professional can do. This is important because it can enhance the future performance of that professional and establish whether the goals of management by objective have been met. Without effective public relations campaigns, companies or organizations may be at risk of losing their target audience. These campaigns keep the public happy and help to keep sales up; and not to mention keep a good reputation with the public. The effectiveness of every public relations campaign should not have any goal less than perfect.

There are many ways to measure the effectiveness of Public Relations programs. The most basic ways  of measuring them is to measure message distribution and media placements, and audience awareness, comprehension and retention. The most advanced level is the measurement of changes in attitude, opinions, and behaviors.

The criteria used in measuring the effectiveness of a campaign include “the compilation of press clippings and radio/television mentions; media impression, or the potential audience reached; number of hits on a website; advertising equivalency; systematic tracking by use of computer databases; requests for additional information; and audience attendance at special events.” If any of these areas are high, then it would be safe to assume that the public relation campaign was pretty successful.

PR campaigns are ultimately evaluated based on how they can help organizations achieve its objectives through changing the audiences behavior and attitudes, fund-raising, or the election of a candidate.

*Information from Think! Public Relations.



Posted: Mon, Oct 10, 11 in Journal

I have NO words to say.