3 Tips for Using Social Media as a Public Relations Tool

Coveting that dream job?  Preparation is key.  Here are four tips to crush your next job interview. 

You may have been in the PR field long enough to remember pre-digital PR, when it was a more straightforward discipline. Now, social media has found its way into nearly all corporate communications, seemingly turning traditional media into a thing of the past. Although traditional media is still important, when the two are paired together, something even more powerful is created.

Getting started with social media

Having an understanding of social media, SEO and digital content creation is essential for maximizing the success of PR campaigns. However, the 2016 Digital PR and Communications report by the Public Relations and Communications Association found that 53 percent of agency staff said they required more training in digital/social media.

In contrast, their 2016 annual report found that digital and social media was one of the top five duties amongst PR professionals. Having basic digital skills is no longer simply an asset in PR, but is increasingly a requirement.

Social media is changing the future of PR whether we like it or not. This is why having the skills required to meet new challenges the medium provides has never been more important.  The following three tips will help you maximize your social media strategy and integrate the medium with your traditional PR practices

Fully integrate social media with traditional PR
In an increasingly social world, social media is inextricably intertwined with nearly everything, public relations included. Amy Howell, PR expert and author of Women in High Gear, warns against thinking that PR and social media are separate entities. “Social media does not replace traditional media,” she says, “traditional media is still very important when paired with social media, it’s even more powerful.”

Nearly 65 percent of all PR departments are responsible for the social media presence of their companies. This means that the integration of traditional and digital media is not just a philosophical debate, it is a reality for much of the PR world.

Sebastian Meyer, Social Media Manager for the BYU Universe, says that keeping up to date on social media technologies and frequently measuring the effectiveness of digital and traditional tactics to communicate your message can give you the best control of your PR message. Using this method, you can leverage social media into something profitable.

Hyper-localized PR messaging
When targeting an audience on Facebook, you can use multiple parameters to define your audience, like behavior, education, interests and connections. However, Facebook also allows you to target by zip code area, along with other traditional parameters, like gender and age. Twitter and Google offer similar targeting options as well.

Before the mass-adoption of social media, targeting with such precision was not possible. This level of precision allows for more sophisticated and efficient PR campaigns. You can now leverage segmentation tools on social media platforms as a tactic within a PR campaign. Facebook makes it especially easy to understand your audience through their audience profile analytics, which is available to anyone with a Facebook Ads account. The feature allows you to search a demographic, and Facebook will produce specific features of your public to help you better reach them.

Hyper-localized PR messaging can be especially helpful when planning an event for a client. Advertisements can be made through social media to target people directly in the area or other audiences who could have an interest in attending.

Utilize social media analytics.
By nature, social media platforms lend themselves well to data analytics. Not only do most platforms come with their own analytical tools, such as Twitter Analytics and Facebook Analytics, but there is also a wide range of third-party tools available, such as Sproutsocial and Hootsuite. These are ideal for monitoring progress.

The analytic-friendly nature of social media will translate across to PR, which will become even more data-driven, as PR firms use data analytics to inform future campaigns and improve current ones.

By using data analytics tool, PR professionals can create more successful campaigns. During Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign, a heavy focus was placed on data analytics. This helped determine how campaign messages were resonating with different audiences.

The use of social media analytics is also heavily linked to hyper-localized messaging. In the Obama campaign, data was successfully gathered through Facebook, which allowed the delivery of messages to micro-targeted audiences.

Put it into practice
While social media is changing the way we practice PR, it doesn’t have to make it more difficult. In fact, social media, when paired with traditional media, opens up new opportunities to reach audiences and disseminate messages.

So, put these tips into practice and see how strategic social media use can become the best complement to traditional PR.

Written by Madison Austin

How to Engage Millennials Through Cause Marketing

Connect your company with social issues and you can connect with even the most entitled audiences

Trying to engage with millennials can feel like trying to join a high school clique. The tight-knit group of slightly cynical young adults can be difficult to understand and even more difficult to convince. An AdWeek study reveals that millennials are more skeptical than their older peers about cause-related marketing, believing it is inauthentic. Don’t let this skepticism fool you: they care deeply about social topics and are loyal to the brands that drive social change.

What’s the answer? Cause marketing. Cause marketing is a mutually beneficial collaboration between a for-profit corporation and a non-profit organization. By teaming up and communicating a mutual mission, for-profit corporations can improve their reputation and image with all stakeholders including customers, investors, and community members.

According to the same AdWeek study, millennials are more likely than other generations to seek out brands that align with causes they care about. It also shows that millennials and members of Gen Z are willing to spend time researching brands, pay more for products or sacrifice quality of products if the brand aligns with a social cause they care about. Experts at Cone Communications, the leading cause marketing communications firm in the US, found that nearly 90 percent of Americans will purchase a product because the company advocated for an issue they cared about.

Cause marketing is more than a great tool for engaging with millennials, it is an opportunity to redefine your company. Carol Cone, the “Mother of Cause Marketing,” told PRSA members that companies who bring societal issues into the core of their mission and operations are seeing an average 10 percent growth in revenue. This growth happens to the degree that the company makes social values its “true north” in operations and marketing.

For example, Unilever has become famous for its cause marketing efforts including the Dove campaign for Real Beauty

The campaign focuses on helping all women feel beautiful and celebrating their differences in body type, skin color, etc. The national attention of this campaign has pushed Unilever toward the top of LinkedIn’s list of most attractive companies for which to work.

You can leverage the millennial interest in social issues and build social value in your company by following these steps to develop your own cause marketing campaign.

  1.  Be authentic by finding a cause you care about

The first step to building a cause marketing campaign for your company is to find a cause! Consider the industry you work in, the resources your company uses and the social issues related to those operations. For example, if you work in the technology industry, consider how your company’s expertise in programming, web development or technological engineering could be used to serve your community. Your employees could help teach after school coding programs at low-income schools or set up an educational program to help students in underprivileged areas learn skills to prepare them for work at your company.

Also consider what social issues you are personally interested in and what kinds of projects you’d be thrilled to work on. Chat with other employees to learn what issues are important to them personally. Passion is important when connecting your company with a cause. Your employees’ genuine interest in the cause will shine through when it comes time to share your story.

  1. Connect with an organization doing good

When you’ve found a cause to support, look for other organizations working on that cause. Likely, these established organizations will already be working on community projects or activism projects that you can donate to or support with man power. Look for an organization that is making a significant and sustainable difference in the issue area it is dealing with. Look beyond simple opportunities for donation. You can search local non-profit directories or search through Skoll Foundation and Ashoka websites to find vetted organizations that are having real impact on social issues. If you don’t find an organization or foundation that fits with your business, consider starting your own.

  1. Craft your story

­After you’ve found and connected with the right cause and are rolling out programs to support the cause, you’re ready to start a campaign. Write your story based on why your company decided to connect with this cause specifically and what you’re doing to help. Tell the story from the perspective of an employee, a person who has been helped by your efforts or the company at large. Traditional public relations tactics come into play in this step. Tell your company’s social impact story in creative ways through different channels. Not only will your company benefit through increased online engagement and revenue, but you will also feel good about building social value in your company.

For example, tell the story of a kid at the after-school program who found a real passion for programming and how your employee became her professional mentor. Or, find an employee whose productivity dramatically improved since spending time after work mentoring kids at a local high school. Stories will practically write themselves when your company and employees start engaging in social programs.

While you may be looking primarily to increase online engagement with millennials, your efforts to build a cause marketing campaign will transform your company from the inside out. Help your company build a cause marketing project and campaign. You’ll finally learn to take mom’s advice from high school: Just be the best “you” you can be and people will love you.

Written by Lauren Thomas

How to Use the Instagram Hashtag #Update to Your Advantage

Guy in a boat with a travel bag

Instagram now allows users to follow hashtags, and brands are delivering trendy hashtags directly to their follower’s feeds. Are you going to join the movement?

Before this month, there were two ways to use hashtags on Instagram. The first was to search for a specific tag on Instagram (#anthropologie, #BYU, etc) and see what people were saying about those topics. The second was to click a hashtag used on someone’s post and other posts with the same tag. Hashtags weren’t being properly utilized for the uniting force they could be, and so, Instagram made a change.

Thanks to the new update, users can now choose to see pictures with the hashtags they’re interested in directly on their feed. It’s like following a specific account dedicated to your favorite things.

For example, if you’re a big foodie, following the hashtag #onthetable could give you some great dinner inspiration. Or, if you’re all about basketball, following the hashtag for your favorite NBA team could brighten up your feed. People are also using hashtags to spread awareness (1.6 million pictures using #womensmarch), get a glimpse at some of their favorite places (13 million pictures using #manhattan), or just make a trendy hashtag for their group of friends.

But, as a PR professional, I’m sure you’re asking, “How can I use this for my brand?” Fortunately, the answer is “Any way you want!” But we’ll give you a few examples of how businesses are using it now.

SuperMoon Bakehouse in New York City isn’t known for its pastries, though we’ve heard those are tasty. The shop itself is a treat, attracting locals, tourists, bloggers, and families alike with its glass symmetry, colorful desserts, and tightly packed rows of iridescent boxes that create the perfect photo backdrop. Their fancy boxes with rainbow sheen read, “#ChewYorkCity” and“#BiteMeNYC” on the sides, giving their consumers a clear call to action: post a picture and use our hashtags. 

Herschel Supply Co., a brand dedicated to backpacks and travel totes, began using #welltraveled as part of a campaign they ran. They updated their Instagram weekly with photos of their duffels in action all over the world using their signature tag. The people of Instagram loved it, and everyone started using their hashtag, and there are now more than 1.5 million photos with #welltraveled as a descriptor. Talk about some amazing social media marketing!

The use of hashtags promoted a feeling of community around a brand and its products. But the brand had to do the work first. How will you help your consumers use and follow your hashtag? Will you print it on a box like SuperMoon Bakery, or use it regularly on your feed like Herschel, or make t-shirts with it, or post a picture of a giant cake with your hashtag written on it in neon frosting? No matter what you do, make a big, bold statement with it. Also, don’t be afraid to ask your consumers to follow your hashtag.

According to Matthew Ogle, the creative brain behind this change on Instagram, “Hashtags are our atomic unit for interest on Instagram.” Ogle used to work for Spotify, where he curated the Discovery Weekly playlist. He introduced an algorithm on Spotify that put personalized music for each individual listener (which there are over 140 million of) in a playlist for them each week. Ogle has taken that innovative energy and brought it into this new Instagram update.

So, go brainstorm a creative way to use the atomic unit for interest on the ‘gram! There’s no time like the present to create your brand’s key hashtag and start promoting it. Your followers are waiting for the community you’re about to build for them, thanks to Instagram’s new follow feature for the hashtag.

Written by Regan Crandall

Engage Your Clients in Real-Time

Y Digital Lab
Y Digital Lab

Imagine all of your clients gathered in one place at an event. What if you could engage with everyone there? I don’t mean going around the room talking to hundreds of people, but instead, engaging them in real-time through social media.

HYP3R, according to its website, is a geoscocial platform that puts coordinates on an area and allows you to engage and interact with all the social media accounts within the area. Learn more details about the company here.

Let me break it down simply for you.

I worked on a project for a Fortune 500 company and for the event it was sponsoring. The company wanted to interact with its fans at the event. Since being at the event in person talking to everyone is virtually impossible, I was a part of a hired team responsible for interacting with attendees via social media.

We used HYP3R to set the geofencing around the event, which gathered all of the social accounts posting within the area. All of the posts on Instagram were pulled into the HYP3R site, where we could access them and engage in real time.

Throughout the entire event, we engaged fans on their pictures by commenting and liking. We also gave away prizes through social media.

The entire project improved the company’s engagement by 200 percent, according to statistics from Y Digital Agency, a student-run PR agency at Brigham Young University.

Fans at the event loved it.

They were noticed.

They were heard.

They were loved.

The experience brought one of their favorite brands to life. Because that brand was interacting with THEM.

Three Simple Steps to Start Using HYP3R

I’m going to break it down into three simple steps to get started with HYP3R and real-time engagement.

Select the event
Identifying which event you want to engage with people is important. The event you choose needs to be an event where a lot of people will be in attendance and who will be posting pictures frequently.

Examples can be professional sporting events, concerts, races or galas.

All of these events will have thousands of people keeping their Instagrams updated.

Select a team
Make sure you are well-staffed to engage in real time. A lot of diligent work is required because the posts will start flooding in at the event.

You’ll want to be responding frequently and attentively to ensure you’re interacting with as many accounts as possible.

Begin HYP3R use
You will need to open an account with HYP3R, but once you do, the opportunities are endless. Not only can you geofence an event to pull all of the posts in that area, but the posts will be pulled to one place on your HYP3R account. You can scroll through them and not have to scramble around to find the posts.

Analytics are also a genius part of HYP3R. You’ll be able to see the stats of engagement rates, top responses, etc. The numbers don’t lie. Your engagements rates will go through the roof.

First-hand experience with HYP3R

Stephanie Smith, a public relations student at Brigham Young University, has worked on many projects for clients using HYP3R and states:

“It is an innovative and effective way to engage with people,” Stephanie said. “It allows a brand to come to life. Instead of drinking a Coke at a basketball game, what if Coca Cola commented on your Instagram post at that game. And even better, what if Coca Cola commented telling you to go to the nearest concession stand and get a free Coke on them? That is how we use HYP3R. We bring brands to life, which ultimately brings loyalty from customers to the brands.”

Engaging in real time is the latest way to build a brand. Forget publishing a news release in the newspaper. If you want your client to get noticed, interact with its customers and fans on social media.

People can have so much more than simply drinking a Coke.

Written by Genny Hickman

Interviews: The difference between “crushing it” and being crushed

Coveting that dream job?  Preparation is key.  Here are four tips to crush your next job interview.

“You’re hired!”  These are the two words every college student wants most to hear. Landing the right job after graduation can make all the difference in your career; but even the most polished resume, carefully crafted cover letter, well-connected LinkedIn network and sharpest JCrew blazer aren’t enough to get you there—unless you can sell yourself in person.  Here are four tips to help you crush your next interview.

Prepare Your Pitch
Preparation is key to your interview.  Everyone knows that it’s important to be on time and dress professionally—but it’s just as important to prepare your content as it is to prepare your appearance.

Professor Leslie Kawai, who teaches business communications at BYU’s Marriott School of Business, counsels students to know their personal elevator pitch.  “When you get in the elevator with someone, you should be able to tell them your name and three distinctive traits of yours,” she says.  “For example, you should be able to say, ‘My name is so and so, and I possess x, y, and z traits.’”   The ability to pitch yourself quickly and distinctively helps employers get an idea of who you are and remember your characteristics.

Get Psyched Up, Not Psyched Out
Another technique Kawai teaches her students is the exercise of “power poses,” a psychological technique coined by social psychologist Amy Cuddy at the TEDGlobal 2012 conference.  In Cuddy’s TED Talk “Your Body Language Shapes who you are,” Cuddy teaches that standing in a posture of confidence, even when you don’t feel confident, can boost feelings of power and impact your chance for success.  Posing with your arms up and shoulders back, even for thirty seconds, can boost your feelings of confidence.  Combine this powerful technique with positive words of encouragement and affirmation to psych yourself up for the interview!  Mental enthusiasm radiates outward. 

Edit Your Social Media Presence
Polishing your online presence is another form of overlooked preparation.  Keith Lue, Internship & Career Services Coordinator in the School of Communications, says that managing your personal brand online is critical.  “Most employers would check your social media before they would ever invite you to interview,” he said.

Students often don’t realize how much power their social profiles have in the eyes of employers and recruiters.  Examine your social profiles—what kind of message does your Twitter feed send to your potential boss?   Consider trading in your party photos to reflect a more professional online presence.  A simple headshot in your profile picture will make a much better first impression than a photo of you at a party or even a stock photo.  Double check your privacy settings and look through your profiles with a critical eye to ensure that employers see you as someone who could potentially fit into their organization.

Do Your Homework
A well-prepared interviewee won’t only answer questions, but will also research information about the organization ahead of time to have questions to ask.

Shannon Baird, a senior in BYU’s public relations program, said, “Every time I interview I try to ask a lot of questions to show my genuine interest in the company. One of my favorite questions to ask is if the person interviewing me enjoys working for that company and would recommend it to others. It always catches the interviewer off guard and puts me at a more personal level with him or her.”  Careful research helps you formulate great questions.

Researching the company in advance will also help you go the second mile.  If you research the organization thoroughly, you can identify problems within the organization that you are equipped to solve. Your findings will show the employer that you care about the organization, you take the initiative and that you’re a problem-solver.  By investing time into the organization even before you interview, you’ll put yourself ahead of the other candidates for the position.

At the end of the day, preparation pays off.  A good interview validates everything on your resume, so let yourself shine!

After all, you’re so much more than a piece of paper.  Go get that job.

Written by Lindsey Trendler

Zoom in on the syrup: Memes as online marketing strategies

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he average person spends over 100 minutes on social media every day—which means a lot of articles, posts, and pictures are flashing in front of millions of eyes each day as well. BYU PR students are expected to know how to tap into that traffic when they graduate, but it’s not as easy as it sounds.

Memes could be the back door that allows companies to jump right into the popularity frenzy. Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins originally coined the term “meme” to describe a cultural idea or trend that circulates and grows in popularity much like a successful genetic trait.

What’s So Great About Memes?

According to Scott Church, a BYU communications professor, the term “meme” refers to anything that is meant to go viral, whether it’s a phrase, a video, or a picture. Some examples of such include the Grumpy Cat macro (image with bolded text) and the Keyboard Cat video.

According to a study done by Piia Varis and Jan Blommaert from Tilburg University, people find it important to be part of a group that ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ items posted by others. Memes perfectly fit the bill because they are easy to consume, have mass appeal, are relatable to the audience, shareable, familiar, and funny.

What Elements Do Viral Memes Have?

  1. Designed for the masses.

Memes should relate to large groups of people that include the target audience. The more people a meme relates to, the more readily it will be shared. This is a balancing act between getting the meme seen by the target audience, but having enough people in the audience for it to go viral.

An example of this element was posted on a funny dog Facebook page. It appeals to dog lovers, but also appeals to anyone who dreads getting up for work on Monday mornings.


This meme appeals to dog lovers, but also appeals to anyone who dreads getting up for work on Monday mornings.


  1. Easy to consume.

Memes should have clear pictures (or video) and simple text. They should be easy to read, easy to understand, and to the point. Any meme with difficult font or confusing content will be passed over and left unshared.


Since the point of memes is to be shared, memes should be created in the proper format and the proper size for the platforms it will be posted to. The more places it gets posted, the more likely it is to get shared. However, keep in mind that memes may not be appropriate on every platform. If a company has a large, older audience on Facebook, memes might not be the best way to engage with them, and might actually have the opposite effect.

  1. Familiar or current.

Viral memes are often based off of recent happenings. Using current events as a base will make the meme familiar (and relatable) to those viewing it. An example of this was when the power went out during the super bowl in 2013 and Oreo posted this photo:


Using current events as a base will make the meme familiar (and relatable) to those viewing it.


  1. Funny, witty, clever, and smart.

Memes need to be funny, witty, clever and smart so they can catch enough attention to be shared. Businesses are always posting social content, and audiences are constantly being bombarded with it, so creating attention-grabbing content can help a specific brand or company get noticed, even if it’s just for a moment.


Another reason why memes need to be light-hearted is because overly stiff and formal online messaging can alienate the very fans marketers wish to court. It may be necessary to toss the corporate handbook to be able to create an offbeat meme that’s hard to fit into a business plan. That said, don’t get so crazy that the content isn’t somewhat in line with your brand’s identity.

Things To Watch Out For

Everything a brand says or does, even if a little silly, needs to fit with the brand’s identity. If a company has a solemn reputation, memes may not be the most effective marketing tactic.

Even if a brand can afford to be offbeat or a little silly at times, it’s wise to avoid posting viral content continuously just to be funny. Remember—it’s all in the delivery. Fail at this, and audiences will assume the company is trying too hard. Never sacrifice quality or originality for quantity.

How to Create a Viral Meme

According to businessnewsdaily.com, a basic rule of thumb is that companies who want to go viral should probably memejack to get and some immediate attention. Companies that already have lots of loyal followers are better off trying to outshine the competition with their own creative juices (as long as self-created memes have great concepts behind them).


Once a meme has been decided on, there are two options for actually creating it. The first is called memejacking, which is the method that a lot of companies use. It’s taking a viral meme that has already been created and tweaking it to fit the brand. If this method is decided on, there are a couple things to look out for:

  1. Understand the meme, first. If a meme’s origin and meaning isn’t clear, don’t just try it anyway! Use com to read up on it before deciding it’s the right meme to use. Using a meme incorrectly can backfire.
  2. Don’t waste time. Memes have an incredibly short lifespan, so don’t dawdle in putting a good idea into practice. Waiting too long could allow the meme’s popularity to fizzle out before it can be used.
  3. Make sure it’s appropriate. Using memes inappropriately will put a company’s reputation on the line, referring to the content and context of the meme itself, or the situation in which it’s shared. A serious audience would probably not appreciate a humorous meme.

Even if a meme doesn’t go viral, using a well-known macro will greatly increase the chances of it grabbing the attention of the target audience, followers, and customers. A successful example of this is below, posted by the company Barkbox.


Memejacking is taking a viral meme that has already been created and tweaking it to fit the brand.


Creating Memes From Scratch

Remember that memes should be designed for the masses, easy to consume, shareable, familiar (or current), and funny, witty, clever, or smart. Websites like MemeGenerator.net are a great place to start. Sites like this will often put their watermark on a finished meme. Brandwatch.com gives some examples of popular things to use:

  • Animals saying human things.
  • Babies saying or doing adult things.
  • Sayings from popular television shows or movies.
  • Popular images of characters from television shows or movies.
  • Popular or classic quotes.
  • Puns or joke punch lines.
  • That moment when. . .
  • Grumpy Cat.
  • Most Interesting Man in the World.

    Companies that already have lots of loyal followers are better off trying to outshine the competition with their own creative juices.

An image posted by Denny’s is a great example of a larger company creating its own meme based off of current trends.

Written by Kyra Sutherland


What is PR, actually?

Public relations, advertising and marketingwhats the difference?  Here are a few pointers to help you differentiate.

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he public relations profession is one big mystery to most of the world.  Easily confused with marketing or advertising, it’s a field that can be difficult to explain.  If you practice public relations, most of your friends and family have probably been confused when you have tried to explain what you do.  Here are a few resources to help you answer another round of awkward questions at family gatherings this Christmas season.

Q: What do PR practitioners do, in a nutshell?

A:  According to the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), public relations is “a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”  Plainly put, public relations is about using tools like writing, social media and strategy to build trust and reputation for an organization.


Q: Are PR professionals just professional partiers?

A:  Many people believe that practicing PR equates to being a publicist, representing a celebrity, or meeting people at swanky parties for a living—far be it from the truth.  Public relations work can often include special events productions, but every event is created with a strategy in mind.  Public relations work is not all glamorous, and though most professionals do enjoy their work, long hours spent strategizing and planning go unseen.


BYU public relations students met with local PR professionals at a recruiting event to learn from and network industry leaders. Though networking isn’t all that PR professionals do, it, it does play a large role in any PR job.


Q: Is public relations like advertising?

A:  PR is not advertising.  While the two professions have things in common, like elements of design and strategy, the main difference between public relations and advertising is that advertising is paid media, while PR is earned media.  This means that advertisers will pay to push their content forward, while PR professionals will earn their coverage in ways like writing news story pitches to journalists, creating social media posts or putting together brand videos for a client.  In fact, when you read a piece of public relations content, you may not even realize it’s been carefully crafted to persuade you to think about an idea or a brand in a certain way.  PR is discreet, while advertising is more obvious to the viewer.


BYU advertising students prepare a set for a Comic Con video shoot. While advertisers promote clients via paid media, PR practitioners promote clients through earned media.


Q:  What’s the difference between PR and marketing?

A:  While marketers aim to sell products, PR professionals sell ideas.  At the core, PR professionals are storytellers.  Public relations professionals are primarily responsible for managing brand reputation and press relations, while marketers might focus more on market research and sales goals.


Q:  What can you do with a career in PR?

A:  One of the best things about the field of PR is that you can do so many things with the degree.  Some graduates choose to work at PR agencies, which is probably what you think of as a traditional PR job.  However, the options are limitless.  Today, many PR graduates choose to specialize in digital marketing and social analytics and work in PR tech jobs.  Additionally, many PR graduates cross over to marketing or business, or go to law school.  A PR practitioner could be a press secretary, an event planner, or even an entrepreneur and start his or her own firm.


Q:  Should I major in PR?

A: If you’re passionate about writing, creativity and strategy—and you have a healthy tolerance for stress—this may be the perfect field for you.

Written by Lindsey Trendler


Using social media to build your personal brand

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mployers are stalking you, and you may not like what they see. Many hiring managers will take a look at your social media profiles after they interview you to get a snapshot of who you are. “I always look at a few social channels when hiring,” said Brandon Jeppson, Vice President of marketing at EKR. “It helps me get a better sense of who that person really is.”

If the person represented on your social media channels does not reflect the person you want employers to see, you need to step up your game on social media. Get noticed and hired by the right people by taking control of your personal brand online.

1. Stand for something

A good personal brand starts with a solid foundation. Pick a cause, any cause. It doesn’t have to be organized one, or even well-known. You can stand up for happiness, class, art, religion, or science. Choose something you want to embody, and let the rest of your content follow suit. Your foundational principles will shine through to people looking at your social profiles and will be influential in shaping their perceptions of you.

2. Embrace the real you

A common misconception is that to be successful on social media, you should appear to be perfect. People want to see the real you. A hiring manager isn’t going to your Facebook feed to be wowed by your flawless selfies, they’re there to get a glimpse of your reality. Be authentic and relatable, and people will want you on their team.

“Credentials and skills are important, but in the end, you’re working with people,” said Jeppson. “Social media, including LinkedIn, can help me figure out if they’re going to be a good fit for my team”.

 3. Find your audience

Once you find the content that resonates with you, find out who cares to listen. Use platforms like Buzzsumo to monitor what’s trending with your audience, then use that content to fuel your posts. Remember, you’re not building a personal brand for yourself, but for others to be influenced and inspired by you.

 4. Stay consistent

Having a consistent look and feel to your personal brand will create a sense of trust and validity. “You can damage an otherwise impeccable reputation if one of your profiles shows up with content or images that don’t represent you well,” said Sujan Patel, Co-founder of Web Profits and a contributing author to Forbes. This advice is especially helpful on an Instagram account, where a consistent look and feel (including a color scheme) is pleasing to the eye.

 5. Mix up your content

Don’t settle for only one type of engagement with your audience, even if you know it works. Mixing up what you post keeps things interesting for your followers and helps employers see the many facets of your personality. “When hiring, I try to gather as much data as I can about a person,” said BYU student and E-WeddingBands operations manager David Baird. “I want to know what their personality is like and how they handle themselves in all types of situations.”

6. Embrace your work

Your social media pages shouldn’t be a place to consistently gloat about your achievements. They can, however, be a place to occasionally post content you create, like blog posts or videos. Sprinkling your personal brand with original work helps employers quickly assess your skill sets.

 7. Google yourself

Try putting your name into a search engine. How do you feel about the results? Are you ashamed and embarrassed, or happy and proud?  Monitoring your online presence is essential to maintaining a personal brand. If there’s something you don’t like on your social pages, it’s easy to delete. If you’re worried about how you’re portrayed on other pages, try reaching out to the person posting and explain you don’t want to be portrayed in that way.

Just like a business would, you should be aware of where you show up online, who is talking about you and what is being said.

Social media matters when interviewing for jobs. Skills and credentials aside, employers want to make sure you’re a good fit for their team.

“Elevating your personal brand might seem like it involves a huge time investment. But, small steps in the right direction can go a long way” said Kat Boogaard, writer for The Muse and contributing author for Inc.

Rest assured that employers are looking at your social media because you’re already interesting. Make sure you paint the right picture of who you are and who you want the world to see.

Written by Shannon Baird


How to Optimize Hashtag Power on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram

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he #ShareYourEars Disney campaign for Make-A-Wish Foundation in 2016 invited customers to share pictures wearing Mickey Mouse Ears using the branded hashtag. Disney donated $5 to Make a Wish for every post with the hashtag on social media.

Worldwide Breast Cancer foundation surpassed fundraising goals by 317% with the #KnowYourLemons campaign. The playful hashtag spread serious educational information on signs of breast cancer for women.

NASA used #GlobalSelfie to collect photos of people’s posts of their environmental surroundings. NASA put all the photos into a stunning mosaic of the world to inspire enthusiasm for Earth Day.

This little symbol—known as the pound key ten years ago—has become a worldwide cultural phenomenon. Yet some brands and companies haven’t fully mastered or comprehended the power of optimizing the hashtag.

The ten-year-old symbol is now a cultural phenomenon, used to increase organic reach of social media posts. Learn best hashtagging practices to fully maximize its potential.

After extensive research from leaders in social media marketing, BYU School of Communications has gathered concrete answers to the often-deliberated question—how to hashtag on social media.


1.6 million people actively use Facebook every single day. This makes Facebook the most prominent social platform right now. A solid hashtag strategy can increase the organic reach of brands on this huge platform. But with Facebook, there seems to be a love-hate relationship with hashtags for one main reason.

Hashtags on Facebook work differently than other social platforms. Most people set their Facebook profiles to private, making the hashtags on posts less accessible. As a result, hashtag usage is restricted to companies, brands and influencers whose public profiles allow them to be searched and seen.

But when searching a hashtag, Facebook also gives the option to refine results. It’s possible to opt to see only posts from friends or only posts from specific groups. Hashtags can also be searched by location or time frame on Facebook. Neither Twitter nor Instagram have that function, making the Facebook hashtag process feel more organized.

AdExpresso published an experimental set of posts on Facebook, featuring photos of Elizabeth Warren and Kanye West. One had a caption saying, “In an election unlike any other, who would you pick if it came down to these two?” The second photo had the exact same image and caption adding “#RunWarrenRun” and “#RunKanyeRun.”

The results showed that the post including hashtags outperformed the first post. Companies worry about using hashtags on Facebook, due to evidence that hashtags decrease engagement. But, clever hashtags with purpose have proven effective when used correctly.

Recommended number of hashtags on Facebook: No more than one.

Optimal hashtag length: Six characters



Twitter support says, “We recommend using no more than 2 hashtags per tweet as best practice, but you may use as many hashtags in a tweet as you like.”

The verdict?

Tweets with more than two hashtags see a significant decrease in engagement. Track Maven, a marketing analytics software company, analyzed 65,000 posts and found that Twitter engagement was highest among hashtags with three characters or 18 characters. This seems like two opposite ends of the spectrum.

Track Maven, a marketing analytics software company, analyzed 65,000 posts across social media platforms. Studies found that Twitter engagement was highest among hashtags with three characters or 18 characters.

How does that work? Presumably, users like short hashtags because they’re clearer. But, sometimes people need longer hashtags to give necessary context.

Recommended number of hashtags on Twitter: One or two. No more than two.

Optimal hashtag length: Three or eighteen characters


Regardless of length, relevance will always reign supreme. The best way to optimize hashtags is to choose hashtags that are specific enough to be seen by the right people, and broad enough to reach a decent number of people.

BYU media relations manager Todd Hollingshead said, “Great hashtags can create a sense of community.” Hashtags work when people are really using it. “If the hashtag is something irrelevant like #wokeuptooearlythismorning and #mycerealiscoldbutiwantitobewarm, then it’s pointless.”

One of the most popularly circulated hashtags around campus is #BYUBound for incoming students. The day freshman receive their acceptance letters, BYU promotes the hashtag on social media. A couple of years ago, two students using #BYUBound found each other online and ended up becoming roommates.



For whatever cultural reason, (perhaps the same reason someone can get away with posting a bunch of selfies on Instagram but on Facebook that would be considered strange) Instagrammers have a lot more freedom with the hashtag.

Social media users engage with brands and companies that use multiple hashtags on Instagram. This strategy of multiple hashtags proves unsuccessful on other platforms. However, many businesses resort to hiding hashtags in the first comment section of a post, so they don’t distract readers from the real message.

Recommended hashtags on Instagram: One or two hashtags in the caption. Nine to 12 hashtags total.

Optimal character length: 21 to 24 characters.

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Another way to optimize the reach of a hashtag is to use Instagram’s analytics tool which shows the times that are most popular for any business pages’ followers.

Studies used to argue about the best times to post online to get the highest engagement and reach. Now, the debate is officially over—because every Instagram business page has its own “Follower Activity” module. The tool breaks up the day into hours, and shows the typical times followers are on Instagram during an average day. Business can know when followers are most active on Instagram and optimize the potential to see any hashtagged posts.



The evolution of the Pinterest hashtag is both interesting and confusing. Users tried incorporating hashtags, a symbol that functioned similarly on every other social platform. But, they weren’t clickable on mobile devices. In 2015, pinners found that, though hashtags were now clickable on both mobile and desktop, using a hashtag didn’t guarantee that the post would be indexed into a specific, searchable, category. Ultimately, it made hashtags on Pinterest unhelpful and purposeless.

Pinterest finally published an official statement on September 29, 2017 announcing clickable and fully-functioning hashtags on their website.

Tiffany Black, Head of Content Business Development at Pinterest, said, “It is true that in the past, I think that we were dissuading people from using hashtags.” But with hashtags becoming a major language in the marketing realm, Pinterest decided to help brands and users benefit from its power. The company recommends adding no more than 20 hashtags per post and keeping them in the pin’s description.

Recommended number of hashtags: Using hashtags on Pinterest is so new that there’s no proper research for this. The best practice is trial and error, borrowing from what’s been working on the previous platforms.

Optimal character length: See above.


Helpful Hints

Don’t feel overwhelmed looking for the absolute best hashtags. Let free tools like Hashtagify.me help. This website finds the most popular hashtags for any keyword search.

With a recent revamp in interface this month, the free Hashtag Finder makes it easy to search the database of over twelve million Twitter and Instagram hashtags. Hashtags are chosen based on their popularity, associations, influencers and a few other metrics.

But, be careful. Because of the rapid rate at which new social media content is uploaded, popular hashtags can get content buried even more quickly. The solution is to stick with hashtags that range in the 50-75 popularity scale on Hashtagify.me. Get a good variety of both trendy hashtags and more niche hashtags.

Adjunct BYU professor and CEO of Wallaroo Media Brandon Doyle explains, “Best practices in social media marketing are always changing. That’s why I’m reading every single day about what’s happening in the industry. I always want to stay ahead of the trends.”

Though the guidelines listed in this article outline best hashtagging practices, there’s no doubt things will change. They always do. Here are some leaders in social media marketing that would be valuable to keep up with: Social Media Examiner, Social Media Today and the Moz or Hubspot blogs.

All the hashtag talk can be overwhelming. But when it helps people recognize a brand, finds a target audience and successfully drives company campaigns, then it’s time to learn to use it right. Stay updated on all the latest industry news, to continue practicing relevant social media marketing strategies.

Written by Kei Akoi Clark.


NBC’s “This is Us” sets the standard for successful storytelling

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ne of the most important skills in communications is being able to captivate an audience. With the mass amount of entertainment and content being published daily, cutting through the noise is challenging. NBC’s hit show “This is Us has become the storytelling sensation of the season with almost 13 million people tuning in weekly, exceeding viewership of any other season premier this year.

“This is Us” gives communications students some valuable lessons as to how they can be better storytellers. The show has captured America because of its impressive ability to get individuals invested in a story. If you haven’t watched “This is Us”, it’s time to jump on the bandwagon. Grab a box of tissues and be ready for all the feels.

The show follows the life of the Pearson family, Jack and Rebecca and their triplets Kate, Kevin and Randall, through the different struggles of an average American family. The show flashes back and forth from the triplets birth and adolescence to the “present day” adulthood. With these heart-wrenching experiences at the core of the show, “This is Us” showcases three attributes communications students should apply in their storytelling endeavors.

This is Emotional

 There is a very fine line between high impact emotional content and cliché and sappy narratives when it comes to storytelling. Communications students must learn how to appeal to emotion without manipulating or coming across as overly dramatic. “This Is Us” takes the story of Jack and Rebecca and highlights the struggles and joys found in every marriage. It portrays the real pain Randall faces with perfectionism and the overwhelming disappointments of Kate’s weight loss journey. Viewers understand these issues all too well, because in these character’s struggles, they see themselves.

Actor Gerald McRaney, who plays the triplet’s doctor in season one said, “At their core, these (the Pearson’s) are good, decent people. I think a lot of people in the country want to be reminded of the goodness that’s in us.”

Watching “This is Us” can be an emotional roller coaster- but it’s also showcases the best storytelling of the year. Photo Credit: Sarah matheson

“This is Us”fills a deep emotional need in society today. It is reminding viewers that despite the emotional struggles we all face, we can rise up and conquer.

 This is Innovative

Many think that to break through the noise of hundreds of movies and TV shows, you have to reinvent the storytelling wheel. Innovation in storytelling is strongest when it is built on the successful tactics of the past, but with a little twist.

Star Tribune TV critic Neal Justin said, “‘This Is Us’ breaks many rules: Jumping back and forth in time, leaving major characters on the sidelines for entire episodes, making time for long, uninterrupted monologues that a short-attention-span audience isn’t supposed to sit still for.”

Show writers Dan Fogelman, Donald Todd and Kay Oyegun string together the classic stereotypes surrounding family drama, but package it in a way that few have been able to master. Viewers understand more about the Pearson’s lives than the characters themselves do because of the way past and present are brought together. Innovative story telling is identifying ideas and principles that have captivated audiences in the past, and making slight adjustments to create a new kind of story.

 This is Mystery

You never know what you’re going to get in a “This is Us” episode, except for a little teary eyed and a whole lot of questions. The pivotal question that is currently captivating fans is the question of what happened to Jack. Like a classic Sherlock Holmes mystery, characters are constantly on the brink of making life altering decisions, and right at the climax the scene changes, leaving viewers gasping for a resolution. New York Times chief TV critic James Poniewozik wrote, “‘This Is Us’ used storytelling twists as a hook from the first episode, whose ending unveiled the flashback structure in the closing seconds.” Adding a bit of mystery to a story will keep audiences hooked until the end. If there’s one thing human beings crave, it’s a resolution. “This is Us” is slowly bringing together the pieces of the Pearson family puzzle, and people just can’t get enough.

Written by Sarah Matheson