|—||Al Green, Memphis music legend|
By Curtis Jolley
In the summer of 2013, I found myself at a crossroads with my education.
You see, I had spent the last three years as a traditional, on-campus student at the University of Memphis.
But, being from Chattanooga, I greatly missed my friends, family, and all of the networking connections I had made through playing piano.
I tossed around the idea of transferring schools, possibly to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga or Lee University, but neither of those just felt right or would allow me to graduate at a reasonable time (or cost). To make matters more confusing, I had just been offered to be the full-time pianist and organist at a church in the Chattanooga area.
Sounds like a tough decision, right?
Well, that was until I found out about the online public relations degree program offered through the U of M. I had actually taken one online course my last on-campus semester, but I had no idea that could turn into completing my entire degree. I could keep all of my credits, maintain my scholarships, and graduate in three semesters — all while living in Chattanooga.
Where do I sign?
I couldn’t be happier with my decision. The program offers tremendous flexibility and freedom. Many courses operate with weekly deadlines, so I’m able to complete my work when it works well with my schedule.
No lie, I’ve even taken a quiz for my advertising course on the beautiful shores of Myrtle Beach during a vacation. It doesn’t get much better than that.
I must admit, I had nerves about not having face-to-face communication with professors, but they go the extra mile to make me feel comfortable. They also offer guidance and great feedback for the work I’m doing.
One of my favorite parts of the curriculum so far has been the chance to expand my portfolio and knowledge of different areas of public relations. With the PR writing course, I’ve gotten to write a public service announcement, a news release, and even a blog for my mobile DJ service.
The best part is that all of these assignments will be ready to show future employers after I’m done with the course.
I’ve had the opportunity to supplement my online courses with taking a few on-campus courses at Chattanooga State Community College to complete my general education requirements. The credits will transfer back to the U of M and count toward the completion of my degree. This has allowed me to experience the best of both worlds, so to speak.
I’m very happy to report that I took that pianist/organist job at Red Bank (Tenn.) United Methodist Church and am enjoying spending time with friends and family. With my first semester of online courses down, I’m only two semesters away from walking the stage at FedExForum and fulfilling my dream of graduating as a Memphis Tiger.
Without the online PR degree program, though, I don’t think this would be possible.
And, as an added bonus, I still get in free to any U of M sporting event with my student ID.
When I’m not in attendance, though, I proudly sing along to the fight song from my couch 340 miles away in Chattanooga — after all my online homework is finished, of course.
Hi! Thanks for your interest in our program. Please send your contact information to Prof. Darrin Devault at firstname.lastname@example.org so he can follow up with you.
Click here for a complete listing of 2013 homecoming events.
By Joan Stewart (AKA The Publicity Hound)
The hashtag is quickly becoming the most powerful key on your keyboard.
It’s the character #, the hot new search tool that makes it easy for people to find your great content, and vice versa.
Hashtags started on Twitter but are now used by savvy Publicity Hounds on sites like Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and Instagram. If I’m tweeting a link to an article on how to get free publicity, I can type #freepublicity at the end of the tweet. People searching for #freepublicity tips can find my tweet.
Here are six of the biggest benefits of using hashtags in a publicity campaign:
• Tweets that contain one or more hashtags are 55 percent more likely to be retweeted than tweets that do not, according to a survey by Dan Zarrella, a social media researcher for HubSpot. That’s huge!
• Hashtags can help you become instantly more visible. On your Facebook profile or page, for example, hashtags turn phrases and topics into clickable links in your posts.
• They allow your content to be seen, within seconds, by people who don’t even follow you.
• You can use them to find new customers. By monitoring hashtags related to important topics your ideal customers follow, you can find someone who needs help with a problem and reach out with advice on how to solve it. When people reach out and help me, I’m suddenly a loyal follower.
• A hashtag can help you find people unhappy with products or services provided by your competitors.
• They can help you also find people unhappy with YOU. I searched just now for #publicityhoundsucks and didn’t find anything, thankfully. But do a search for #unitedairlinessucks and see what you find.
Reprinted from “The Publicity Hound’s Tips of the Week,” an ezine featuring tips, tricks and tools for generating free publicity. Subscribe at PublicityHound.com.