Why a Major in Public Relations is the Perfect Fit

Mad MenChoosing a major in college can be stressful. Having to make that one decision that defines your next four years and future career is overwhelming! However, the decision to major in public relations is one I will never regret.

As a freshman at Auburn University, I had never heard of public relations. I only knew what I was good at… writing, editing, event planning, and all things social! My college career began in marketing (not creative enough) and then interior design (too creative). My advisor finally suggested public relations, and I couldn’t be more thankful for that guidance.


While there are several required courses, the public relations major gives a variety of classes and elective to choose from. For example, I am able to take a Business Marketing class as well as a Writing for Television and Film class! Some of the required public relations courses include Journalism Fundamentals, Multimedia Writing for PR, Case Studies, PR Research and Style & Design.

Office SpaceThe coursework at Auburn University made me a better writer, stronger communicator, and a more effective event-planner. Through projects and presentations, I have learned how to work in a group setting and become comfortable speaking in front of an audience. Many classes have real-world clients involved, where you have the opportunity to conduct research or develop a campaign from start to finish for them. This class experience has given me great confidence in my public relations abilities, whether I’m in an internship or office position.


Auburn University requires every PR major to complete an internship before graduating. This requirement makes you more attractive to companies and helps broaden your horizons before a job search. The internship program must also prove that it actively strengthens a student’s PR skills. Therefore, the day to day intern work isn’t the typical coffee run and office work! Instead, PR students can learn and contribute to the workings of the organization.

Using MemesThe internship opportunities are truly endless, as every company needs an intermediary between the organization and its audience. It can be helpful to network with clients and begin building those relationships early. Internships can also help you to discover more about your interests. Through my own summer internship at a creative agency, I had the opportunity to work with multiple clients on event planning, press releases, websites, graphic design, and so much more. It helped me realize just how much I loved working with social media and digital content strategy!


One of the best things about the public relations major are the endless job opportunities available. Public relations is a versatile major, with skills that benefit in a variety of industries. Entertainment, athletics, fashion, healthcare, politics and non-profit organizations all utilize PR practitioners. A career in PR definitely doesn’t put you in a box!

Public relations is for the creative, the entrepreneur, the leader, the innovator, the writer, the communicator, the social media savvy, the designer, the problem-solver, the analyst, the researcher, the curious, and the driven.

Many public relations graduates choose to work with either a firm (such as an advertising agency) or go into corporate or “in-house,” which is investing in one client over time. Both avenues of work have their own pros and cons, and I’m still not 100% certain which course I will take in the future.

Public Relations

Public relations practitioners can easily become event planners, media relations experts, marketers or social media managers. Any job that requires strong writing skills and relationship-building would fit perfectly. From an advertising agency to a Fortune 500 company, your PR major is what you make of it!

Does a major in public relations interest you? Visit Auburn’s College of Liberal Arts website to learn more.

Crisis Communication Case Study: Chipotle Mexican Grill

Chipotle hazmat suitChipotle Mexican Grill is known for their innovative, fast-casual and farm-fresh food. They’re definitely proud of their supply chain, so much so that marketing ads focus on their naturally-raised and organic ingredients. Their mission statement is even Food with Integrity.

These facts are ironic considering their recent struggles with food safety. Outbreaks of not one, but three food-borne illnesses and pathogens (Salmonella, E. coli, and norovirus) in Chipotle restaurants have resulted in numerous hospitalizations and fatalities. Their long-standing rhetoric of food integrity stands in contrast with the reality of bacteria making their way into your burrito!

The epidemic began in August 2015 at a Simi Valley, California location. A sick employee infected 234 customers, but the outbreak was over by the time health officials confirmed a link. In Minnesota, 64 customers ate tomatoes with a side of salmonella. The worst case came in November 2015, when more than 140 Boston College students (including half the men’s basketball team) picked up the highly contagious norovirus from their campus Chipotle. In total, almost 500 people in 9 states became sick from Chipotle’s food according to public health officials.

the apology

Biohazard ChipsThe effects were immediate once health authorities posted information. Sales and stocks were tumbling, and Chipotle saw their first quarterly decline as a public company. Steve Ells, the founder/CEO of Chipotle, made an appearance on the Today show on December 10 for a televised apology. Ells acknowledged the situation, apologized and expressed concern for the suffering customers. He announced a comprehensive food-safety program that would “exceed industry norms” and stated that Chipotle had recently hired two food-safety consulting firms. However, he admitted they still did not know which ingredients to blame. Produce that’s hard-to-clean and eaten raw is considered high-risk. At Chipotle, that’s the tomatoes, lettuce, and cilantro—the same stuff that gives that signature fresh taste.

“The fact that anyone has become ill eating at Chipotle is completely unacceptable to me, and I am deeply sorry,” Ells wrote. “As a result, we are committed to becoming known as the leader in food safety, just as we are known for using the very best ingredients in a fast-food setting.”

About a week after this apology, Chipotle placed full-page newspaper ads across the country pledging to do better. Ells also promised customers that Chipotle would be “the absolute safest place to eat.” Following these actions, more E. coli outbreaks were reported in Kansas, North Dakota and Oklahoma.

Lessons learned

In February 2016, Chipotle implemented strategies to win back its customers. They used an abundance of caution in closing down company-wide for an “employee food safety training meeting” on the morning of February 8. The brand also launched their giveaway campaign, called the “Chiptopia Rewards Program.” 5.3 million users downloaded coupons from Chipotle’s app for a complimentary burrito, and 50% of the coupons were redeemed.

Chipotle hazmat suitChipotle was absent online amidst this crisis, offering no public statement on its website or social channels. Their Facebook and Twitter pages only had responses to angry customers. Meanwhile, their website had pages devoted to their supply chain sourcing. No official channel acknowledged the crisis as Chipotle faced seven lawsuits and an investigation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In January 2016, they finally updated their website with a “Focus on Food Safety” page addressing how the crisis happened, explaining the viruses and featuring more details of their new testing methods.

in review

I feel Chipotle could’ve had a stronger online presence throughout the crisis. Their social media channels were merely used as customer service tools. I also can’t help but wonder how they could emphasize their fresh ingredients while skipping over food safety basics. It doesn’t matter how fresh or healthy their food is if it’s been contaminated! Finally, I wouldn’t have stated to press that Chipotle would be “the safest place to eat.” This generalization is impossible to guarantee, and the CEO looked foolish as he was proved wrong yet again.

Mark Crumpacker, the Chipotle chief creative and development officer, said “There’s nothing worse from a trust perspective. This is not the kind of problem that you market your way out of.”

In conclusion, Chipotle was honest, authentic and quick to put their CEO and communications team on damage control with this situation. They did a good job changing the conversation with their Chiptopia rewards program, which was necessary to win back wary customers. It’s unfortunate that their marketing and branding centered so heavily on their food production before this crisis, as I feel it only made the irony of the situation even more tempting for media coverage.

Snapchat: How to Use It for Your Business

Snapchat Discover Publishers

Snapchat reaches 41 percent of all 18 to 34 year-olds in the United States on a daily basis. If that statistic doesn’t surprise you, you might be more impressed to learn that half of all new users signing up for Snapchat are over the age of 25.

Given the app’s insane popularity, it’s hard to believe it launched just six years ago. Over 150 million people now use Snapchat to watch 10 billion videos every day. For those who are social media savvy, that’s 10 billion daily opportunities to build greater awareness of your brand!

Plus, 71% of Snapchat’s users in the United States fall into the 18 to 34 age range. Even if your audience doesn’t fall into that demographic, Snapchat is becoming a vital part of consumer marketing strategies. Here are a few ways you can use Snapchat to delight your audience and grow brand awareness.

Invite Your Audience In

People love to get a look behind the scenes at their favorite brands. Snapchat allows you to give exclusive content that’s more intimate than any other social media app. Whether it’s through Snaps of employees on the job, company outings or an office tour, Snapchat allows followers to see how your culture differentiates from the competition. Seeing employees enjoying their jobs and engaging in fun activities can make a customer feel as though they’re part of the team too.

This function can also be used to give a quick yet effective product demonstration or a sneak peek of what’s yet to come. And because Snapchat offers an immersive video experience, taking followers behind the curtain can be even more impactful than through a simple Tweet or Instagram photo.

 Take Advantage of GeoFilters

You can have a lot of fun with the platform’s native tools and features by adding face-swapping filters, text or even Bitmojis. Geofilters have proven to be a highly effective method for increasing brand awareness. When Snapchatters in your chosen location take a Snap, they’ll be able to select your Geofilter graphic and overlay it on their Snap.

If your company is offering something exciting, an On-Demand Geofilter makes it easy to connect your brand to something Snap-worthy. An excellent way to use this feature is by creating a Geofilter for popular local events. This $5 investment can quickly expand your audience reach and increase word-of-mouth advertising.

Tell a Story on your Story

Finally, some of the most entertaining Snap Stories are those that create a narrative. Show off your storytelling by crafting an exciting episode. If users can see this structure in your posts, they’re more likely to spend time watching them. You can keep it simple with something like a day in the life of an employee, or even give your intern a top-secret mission told through “self-destructing” Snaps! Whatever you decide, make sure it fits with your brand image and keeps users engaged through compelling storytelling.

Many companies are still feeling out their Snapchat identity, but this unique tool offers a way to interact with consumers like never before. So if your business hasn’t already invested resources into this app, there’s no better time than now! Expand your brand name and step up your Snapchat game.

A Beginner’s Guide to Blogging

To blog or not to blog?

As I set up this blog for a class (shout-out to #Sisson3280), it struck me how easy it was to create. Carving out your own little corner of the internet can be a piece of cake. It’s writing the perfect post that takes work!

I’m not the only one to realize this. Personal blogs are a dime a dozen in these tech-savvy times. It’s even become the norm for brands, from Disney to Dodge, to create their own corporate blogs that give us a peek behind the curtain.

Blogging is definitely a skill that’s here to stay. Here are my tips and tricks for a blog that breaks the mold:

Take a risk.

Research what’s out of your comfort zone, or take the opportunity to dive deep into an unknown topic. Every time you hit “publish,” that’s another chance to show what you know (or what you’re learning about)!

K.I.S.S. Keep it simple, stupid.

This principle isn’t just for design. Short sentences that are easy to read work best in a post. Don’t make your blog more complicated than it needs to be.

Consistency is key.

Consistency keeps readers coming back to your blog. The timing of posts should be consistent as well. If it hasn’t been updated since 2010, it’s time to restart.

Find your voice.

Let your personality shine through your words! Give your brand a cohesive tone and message by the language you choose. Remember, a formal company ≠ casual blog.

Sharing is caring.

Make it as easy as possible for readers to share and subscribe to your posts. Adding social links or an RSS feed is simple, especially through WordPress plugins. After all, a blog without readers is just a diary!


The 10 Best Brands on Social Media

  1. Coca-Cola

    Coca-Cola is one of the most-recognizable brands in the world, so it’s almost unfair to compare them to any other. Coca-Cola still sets an example with impressive social media presence across all platforms. They use different tactics on each channel, but maintain a cohesive brand message. Coca-Cola also engages their followers through social media. The brand’s personality directly reflects their target audience: young people who value fun, friendship and sports. That’s why their integrated marketing campaign, “Share A Coke,” became so popular worldwide. It’s happy, refreshing and all about sharing good times.

  2. GoPro

    GoPro’s social media strategy hinges on user-generated content. The brand makes it easy for anyone—amateurs, professionals, athletes, families or friends—to submit photos and videos captured using their GoPro cameras. This not only makes for great content to share on social media, but it also shows off their product in action. Customers are excited to see their pictures feature in GoPro’s Instagram “Photo of the day” series. By putting their customers at the center of social content and harnessing the power of user-generated content, GoPro can easily produce amazing posts.

  3. Denny’s

    Denny’s social media presence is … interesting. “America’s Diner” is perfectly content to say whatever it likes on social media, even when it doesn’t relate to its products. The company’s social media posts are often silly and never sound as if there was any corporate planning or oversight involved—which is most likely what resonates with the younger audiences, making Denny’s a fan favorite for the younger generation. They do a great job reaching this younger demographic by keeping it a little weird.

  4. Red Bull

    Red Bull was one of the first brands to fully embrace its role as a content publisher. The energy drink brand that’s all about music, racing and extreme sports often focuses on selling this lifestyle. The concept that Red Bull ‘gives you wings’ is reflected in all the action-packed images they use on social media, as well as the death-defying stunts captured on video. A recent PR stunt called “Stratos” saw Felix Baumgartner jump from space and freefall for 23 miles until he parachuted onto the ground.

  5. spotify

    Spotify’s innovations in social media are driven by the belief that music is social. The music streaming service relies on tools like Facebook and Twitter, and allows users to link their accounts to easily share their taste in music with friends or followers. Spotify also uses their data to make content smarter and more social. They’ve been using data to create more personal, listening experience for years now, generating custom playlists and rolling out their annual Year in Music. In 2016, Spotify also crunched user data to playfully highlight some of the more bizarre user habits. This campaign has spread like wildfire through social media, and inspired another series in 2017 mocking silly playlist names.

  6. Netflix

    It may be because Netflix has a excess of data on its users, but it seems like the company really understands who its social audience is. Whether it’s a famous quote from one of its available titles, or a gif that summarizes how most of us feel about the video streaming site, Netflix continues to create content that resonates with users. Netflix knows how to turn its own streaming content into promotional assets that not only resonate with their audience, but perfectly showcase what’s now available on their site.

  7. Dove

    In an age of social media sass, Dove’s steady and impactful social message stands out as marketing that’s more than just marketing. Dove’s Self Esteem Project has encompassed various campaigns, from #nolikesneeded to #speakbeautiful. Dove has a beautiful goal when it comes to social media. As read from the company’s Twitter bio, “Dove is committed to helping women realize their beauty potential by creating products that deliver real care.” That’s not just a nice tagline, either–Dove is constantly creating content aimed at making women truly feel good about themselves. Dove truly understands the meaning of beauty – and it comes from within.

  8. Kate Spade

    In L2’s Digital IQ Index, which ranks fashion brands according to their website, digital marketing and social media awareness, Kate Spade beats well-known global luxury brands such as Gucci, Hermes and Chanel. Most of their tweets, posts and pins aren’t even of products you can buy on KateSpade.com. But the non-promotional updates help build customer loyalty and understand the message the brand wants to convey. “The shortest answer is that we really wanted to engage with our girl. Of course commerce is important, but it’s not only about commerce. Engagement drives commerce. The more engaged a girl is with the brand, the more valuable she is to us,” said Kate Spade CEO Craig Leavitt.

  9. Old Spice

    The Old Spice campaign has proven to be one of the most memorable creative marketing and advertising concepts ever executed. One of the writers behind the Old Spice campaign Jason Bagley said. “No one expects to ask a question and then be responded to. I think that’s where we broke through.” The marketing team responded personally to tweets with custom YouTube videos, this both surprised and amazed the global audience. The genius of the campaign was that users could submit questions to the Old Spice man and, within minutes, watch a video response to their question.

  10. Oreo

    If you follow Oreo on social media, then the brand’s addition to this list should come as no surprise to you. Oreo must have an entire crew of designers on standby because it’s constantly churning out fresh, relevant content on its social sites. One of the brand’s best campaigns played out during Halloween of 2013, when Oreo created a Vine video series spoofing classic horror films featuring cookies. Oreo creates fantastic content that’s relevant to topical events.

The Best Social Media Channel for Your Content


Pros: Facebook is a true leader as the largest and most active social network in existence. It’s an easy place for a business to get started, and allows for the best possible demographic targeting. It’s also a great platform for running contests and competitions.

Cons: Facebook has become a pay-to-play network and is one of the most competitive platforms to advertise on. Page owners are subject to the whims of the algorithm, and have no guarantee that their content will appear on user timelines. It’s also declining in use among teens and millennials.


Pros: Instagram has been a rising star in social media. This visually pleasing network has higher engagement than Facebook and is the go-to platform for teens and millennials. Instagram allows for creativity while still providing a good structure for beginners. It can also track posts using hashtags like Twitter.

Cons: Instagram is more about branding than selling. It also needs strategic visual content. If you don’t have the talent for photos, Instagram probably isn’t the right platform for you! Sharing photos must be done from mobile devices, and the new sorting algorithm could affect the future performance of posts.


Pros: Twitter is the ideal channel for news, announcements, product launches, trending topics and quick bites of punchy content. Engagement revolves around conversation. It’s a great customer service tool when used to respond to customer complaints or questions. Twitter’s value also lies in its ability for posts to go viral using trending hashtags. It’s now evolving into a top real-time news source.

Cons: Twitter doesn’t give you much wiggle room to get a message out to your followers with its 140 character limit. If you’re targeting an older population, then the people you’ll want to do business with probably aren’t engaged here. It’s also much more difficult to target users based on their behaviors and interests.


Pros: This strong visual branding tool generates direct sales with the help of its “buy-now” button. Pinterest is perfect for promoting products, from clothing and furniture to wedding cakes and gift ideas. Almost 70 percent of Pinterest users are female, but it’s catching on with men too. Well-curated content can easily be shared and viewed by millions.

Cons: Curating the best content onto virtual bulletin boards can be time-consuming and easily overwhelming on this platform. It’s definitely not the best place to target men, and it takes a strong visual appeal to see results. Only use this channel if you have great images to share!


Pros: YouTube has a huge audience as the second most popular search engine. It reaches 81 percent of all Internet users! This platform is perfect for ‘how-to’ tutorials or demonstrations. Advertising is cheap, and you can easily create a brand channel to host videos. YouTube is now owned by Google, so videos are much more likely to appear in search engine results.

Cons: Video production can be expensive and time consuming. While videos can certainly be entertaining and informative, they also need to be high quality to attract an audience. Older visitors tend to spend less time on the site.

Top 10 Social Media Trends to Watch in 2017

What does the future look like for social media?

Sometimes a cutting-edge technology changes the game, or an old idea like virtual reality becomes new again. The social media landscape continues to evolve in unpredictable and surprising ways as new technologies, platforms and methods of content creation arise to capture our imagination and continually alter how we communicate.

Savvy brands that stay ahead of these trends hold a huge strategic advantage if they’re well prepared when these changes occur. Let’s take a look ahead and see what social media has in store for us in the year to come.

  1. Live streaming video

    Live video was first made popular by Twitter’s Periscope, and Facebook Live took it to the next level by offering social video content in real-time. Facebook Live is relatively new, but the format has already seen tremendous success. Some of the most viewed live videos are during events like the Academy Awards or NBA Finals. Instagram is now launching their own live streaming video option, and they won’t be the last. Millennials love video content and are the most active video viewers of any age group. Brands will need to sharpen their video capabilities and develop recognizable video styles to drive engagement and maintain visibility as customer expectations on the platform progress.

  2. Expiring content

    Snapchat popularized the concept of short-lived content through their disappearing “snaps.” This was extended through Snapchat Stories, which are semi-public and viewable for just 24 hours. In 2016, Instagram launched its own version of Stories based on the same notion: users love quick videos and photos that disappear a day later. Brands should be considering the best ways to incorporate this expiring content into their marketing. This format works best when turning everyday moments into a version of unique, informal storytelling.

  3. GIFs and emojis

    From Kim Kardashian’s Kimoji keyboard to Twitter’s Branded Hashtag Emojis, the choices users have for self-expression on social has gone far beyond a smiley face. Now, GIFs and personal Bitmojis are becoming commonplace. Many social media platforms are ahead of the curve; iOS 10 supports these new means of expression through iMessage keyboards, and Facebook has fully embraced GIFs. Brands would be smart to take advantage of this trend. Brands should be using GIFs and emojis in their own context, plus offering opportunities to consumers to express themselves through these images.

  4. Authenticity

    In the age of fake news and alternative facts, authenticity is more valued than ever before. Millennials get their news predominantly from social media, so they’re more likely to investigate and verify what they see. They also push for more transparency from media outlets and are quick to reward unexpected honesty. If users can see the real, human story behind a brand and its product, they’re much more likely to make a connection and cultivate a priceless brand loyalty.

  5. Facial lenses and filters

    Pokémon Go and Snapchat selfie lenses brought augmented reality to the forefront of social media. These facial filters and lenses are incredibly addictive and fun to use, as they increase the user’s ability to create a personalized experience and encourage sharing the silly results with other users. Facebook’s acquisition of Masquerade (MSQRD), a face-swapping selfie app, could play a key role in this. They’ve already begun experimenting with lenses within Facebook Live – enabling users to try on a variety of masks when sharing live video. Platforms will continue to improve on lens features in 2017, and brands should capitalize on these tools.

  6. Personalization

    Customers aren’t interested in dealing with irrelevant content. Thanks to the amount of consumer data and analytics available to businesses, irrelevancy can be a thing of the past. According to Alison Lewis, the CMO of Johnson & Johnson, “getting the right message to the right person at the right time has never been easier, driven by digital and data.” Highly targeted ads are bringing in massive revenue for most social media platforms. Using personalized content and smart data usage, brands can further influence and persuade their audience.

  7. Niche platforms

    Yes, there’s much more to the world of social platforms than just the major players like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Smaller platforms carefully built around specific interests are growing in popularity. Whether they’re based on an app or website, niche platforms represent opportunities for brands to showcase expertise to these potential audiences. These close-knit online communities offer chances to research and better comprehend a consumer demographic. Some great examples are GoodReads (book lovers), Ravelry (knitters) and Raptr (gamers).

  8. Influencer marketing

    Partnering with influencers is a great way to get your products noticed in a crowded marketplace. You also get an advantage of the trust they’ve built up within their target audience. Of course, it will be difficult to convince influencers to promote your product just by giving free samples. Make sure your proposal or campaign is equal in value to the influencer. Brands should also identify influencers, not just by the number of followers they have, but the kind of engagement they have with their followers. An influencer with a higher engagement score makes an even bigger impact when they promote your product or service.

  9.  Setting boundaries

    Social platforms are providing users with better controls over how their feeds offer content. Users are demanding more control over their social media experience, tailoring news feeds to their individual preferences. Twitter recently rolled out quality filter tools to help users control their experience and block specific words from being mentioned. Facebook overhauled their Privacy agreement, making the controls even more user-friendly. Users will have increasingly more power to view content related to their interests, changing the way they use social. Brands should ensure that their user experience falls in line with customer behavior and preferences.

  10.  Virtual reality

    2017 may be the year that virtual reality (VR) social networking comes to life. VR and augmented reality technology are entering the mainstream in 2017, and social platforms are set to embrace it. VR allows people to further connect on social media in a more realistic way. For example, Facebook and YouTube have both introduced 360-degree videos. This paves the way for users to share interactive VR experiences. The innovative technology will also offer brands more ways to engage customers. Brands should be looking at ways to utilize VR, or at the very least should be producing memorable experiences in 360 degrees that could eventually translate to VR technology.