My Blog

14 Feb

Welcome! Here I hope to share with you insight into the nonprofit communications world through blogs I follow, research I’ve done and even experiences I’ve had working with nonprofit organizations. While there are many blogs on the topic, I hope that I can provide you with a student’s perspective on this part of the communications world. I’m also learning myself, so let’s discover together!

TFA: Appalachia Induction Summary

10 Jun

I wish I could say I’ve been a concentrated blogger and took lots of notes so I could share my Teach For America experience in detail. But alas, I’m afraid I have been so invested, busy, and generally sleep deprived that I haven’t been able to update my virtual readers. So, I’ve made a list of things I’ve learned and done. I hope you enjoy. I’d love to chat about any and all of these things, but a complete post may have to wait until I sleep…so March… 

  • Met 23 awesome people I’m happy to call my corps
  • Got a sweet corps nickname- AppalCorps (haha!)
  • Shared a room with 16 other girls
  • Climbed the Natural Bridge at Red River Gorge
  • Shared my journey to TFA with my fellow corps members
  • Visited Martin, KY 
  • Slept in 5 different beds in 7 days
  • Visited Mt. Union College
  • Interviewed with two schools in my region (keep your fingers crossed!)
  • Made wonderful friends and fellow corps members
  • Invaded Applebees in Jackson, TN
  • Made it to Mississippi and Delta State University

 

That’s all I can think of for now, but I’m sure I will have a post about Institute very soon!

The Civic Apprenticeship: Washington DC Field Experience

29 Jan

Integrative Studies: An Introduction

As part of the Integrative Studies program here at Otterbein University, each student takes courses outside their selected major, following a particular model. Not everyone takes the same courses, and only one Integrative Studies course per semester, but these courses provide students the opportunity to explore other disciplines, gain perspective of the greater world of academia, and much, much more. The Integrative Studies program at Otterbein is one of the main reason I chose to attend the university. Always the curious learner, the idea of being able to dabble int other fields, without getting too advanced or complicated, was and still is a great idea! For more information about the Integrative Studies Program, check out the website HERE!! I have taken 8 of these courses in my time at Otterbein, and they have been some of the most interesting and intellectually stimulating of my collegiate career. Not that the Communications Department doesn’t rock my socks, because it totally does! (Hey, I have a major and two minors from that department, after all!)

Anyway, the reason I bore you with Otterbein graduation requirements is to tell you a bit about my DYAD experience. A dyad is made up of two courses that interrelate to create an academic experience. I chose the Community Leadership dyad made up of a Leadership Course, LEAD 3000 and a Community Service Course, INST 4045. This fall, I took the Leadership course with Dr. John Kengla and learned not only about developing my leadership style, but also how my values, goals and leadership opportunities helped develop me into a future leader. It was a great experience. To see my full leadership story, click HERE!! For J-Term, January Term, I took the second half of the dyad: A Civic Apprenticeship, Washington DC. January Term is an intensive three week time period where students have the opportunity to take one course and immerse themselves in the material. My class spent the first half of the term in the classroom talking about social justice issues, and the following half in Washington DC, mainly working in community service.

My Experience

Washington DC was exciting, exhilarating and exhausting. I’ve never been so exhausted in my life, and after walking 53 miles in 7 days, I’m not sure how I managed to make it to the van to catch a ride home. For the course, I was required to reflect on my experience. What started out as a four page paper turned into a seven page sermon about compassion for others. I’ve linked the entire essay HERE, and please note that I have blacked out the names of individuals I met, to protect their identities. But for those of you with short attention spans, here are a few paragraphs I hope you’ll enjoy.

The Civic Apprenticeship course this J-Term was one of the most exhausting courses I have ever taken at Otterbein, in all the best ways. Reflecting on our time spent together, I experienced a rollercoaster of emotion about what we were learning. In the classroom part of the course, we saw videos of some of the worst examples of what a society can be and the gross mistreatment of others. The genocide in Rwanda, the racism toward Australian Aborigines, and even the plight of the working poor affected by the broken system here in America, were all films that I’m not likely to forget. Even though we witnessed the despair of other human beings thorough the videos we saw and some of the articles we read, the text for the course, Soul of a Citizen by Robert Loeb, provided a new way to think about bringing about change and becoming active members of the solution to the problem instead of just passersby.

One of my favorite quotes from the book is in chapter six. “But we can also see it is a call for courage and wisdom—a challenge to choose our battles wisely as we continue to challenge injustice and to expand our definition of what we can change,” (143). Loeb is talking about carefully considering issues to tackle and bring about change. In our field experience in Washington DC, we saw and discussed so many issues in society today. We got up close and personal with homelessness, poverty, hunger, addiction, abuse, and neglect. It’s overwhelming to consider how many people are affected by these issues, and often in the stories I heard, one or more of these issues causes a domino effect into several others. Always an optimist, the stories I heard carried a common theme of having compassion for others. Some of the individuals I met were able to care for others, even when they were in the bleakest of situations.

And for your reading pleasure, my conclusion is below.

As I review Loeb’s ten suggestions at the end of Soul of a Citizen, I found four that really resonate with this course experience. The first is “Suggestion #1: Start where you are.” With our experience at HIPS, Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive, I was exposed to the idea of meeting people where they are and promoting health and safety instead of a larger issue such as drug use or prostitution. The next suggestion I enjoyed is “Suggestion #5: Enlist the uninvolved.” I’ve already discussed the importance and delicacy of raising awareness about issues and choosing a solution based on what works the best for the problem that needs solved. Suggestion #9 is to think large. I’m a proponent of dreaming big dreams and praying big prayers to help solve big problems. Homelessness is a big problem, and now that I know the extent of the issue, it will be hard not to imagine an end to the fact that is people have nowhere to go and no one to rely on. The final suggestion is “Suggestion #10: Listen to your heart.” I don’t think many social justice issues can be solved or even understood unless there is a significant tug on the hearts of those involved. Just as the issue I became aware of was the power of human compassion for others, I think the heart plays a major role in decision making and maybe even the solution to the problems in society today. All of the suggestions were taken from the book’s Postscript: The Ten Suggestions on pages 355-356.

As I conclude my reflection on The Civic Apprenticeship, the idea that resonates with me is that there are issues. Huge issues of huge importance that society has the means to solve. Also, there are people, average, ordinary, everyday people who are willing to put their hearts into their work to provide a well-meaning solution, no matter how temporary, to help resolve some of these issues. I was not prepared for how emotional this experience was going to be, but I think that’s all part of the experience. I still continue to struggle with how I fit into the puzzle and the apathy that our country seems to have over these issues. But I think I’m doing my best by taking a leap of faith in pursuing educational change through my Teach For America commitment and my commitment to nonprofit organizations in general. I also plan to share what I’ve learned. It is all about the stories. It really is.

I reference Robert Loeb’s The Soul of a Citizen in this essay, and I encourage everyone to pick this book up. Just do it. This experience threw me out of my comfort zone in almost every way imaginable, but reaffirmed my faith in people, in society, and in God. It was a life changing experience, that’s for sure.

Some Photos

Here are some photos from our one day of sight-seeing in Washington. I hope you recognize some of these famous American landmarks!!

The Library of Congress

The Library of Congress

The Supreme Court Building

The Supreme Court Building

The Lincoln Memorial

The Lincoln Memorial

IMG_1242[1]

The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial

The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial

The First Opportunity: A Success!

11 Jan

A New Chapter

I am so happy to announce that I have been offered a position in the Teach For America: Appalachia 2014 Corps! After an exhausting interview day, several online activities and questions, and many hours of preparation and nerves, I am so excited to have this opportunity! Teach For America is one of if not the pioneer for educational progress and equality for all students. Yes, that means ALL students.

I heard about Teach For America (TFA) in a course I took this fall, Nonprofit Management. My professor described the organization as one that thoroughly vetted its applicants, and I learned the truth behind that statement. After speaking to a former recruiter, I learned that more people get into Harvard than Teach For America. No pressure, right? My professor continued to talk about TFA as the spearhead for changing policy while still actively serving communities across the country, something some nonprofits struggle with balancing.

The Decision

Along with my offer into the 2014 Corps, there are lots of factors to consider. First is the location of my placement. The Appalachia region was second on my list of choices, so I am very happy about this factor. The Appalachia region is mostly Eastern Kentucky, with a 12 county area where I may be teaching. Some of these counties include: Knox, Mercer, Pike, and Lectner, for those of you who would like to pull up a map of Kentucky. (I hope to post a map soon, but I’m still working through the area myself.) My family is currently in Southern Ohio, Brown County, to be specific. So the distance to some of these areas is actually less than I travel to get to Otterbein for college. My distance home would be between two and four hours, very reasonable for the holidays, in case of an emergency, or the occasional weekend visit.

The second factor to consider is what I will be teaching. My placement from TFA is Secondary English. At first I was a bit disappointed, as I hoped to teach Pre-K or elementary school. The more I thought about it, though, I realized that my placement really is the best option. Secondary includes grades 7-12 Reading or English. With my Journalism background and love for books, I think TFA knew more about me than I did. Sure, I love children, especially little ones, but I could really make an impact in high school as well. I edit essays for my friends, little sister, and myself. Not to mention my experience as a First Year Seminar Peer Mentor helping out with the transition to writing for college. I offer to edit any essay (24 hours before deadline) to all of my classes. I’ve done quite a bit of writing the last four years. See here for some of my work from college. While these are communications projects, I’ve become really comfortable writing for fun and writing in a journal as well, particularly when I’m stressed. I had some great English teachers in high school at RULH, and I loved my English/Literature courses here at Otterbein. I really think I can make a difference here, and enjoy my work. Sure, I’ll have to grade a couple thousand essays by the end of my time with TFA, I know it will be worth it!

The third factor that weighs on me is what happens after my TFA experience, and how that relates to my long-term career goals. I am struggling with the decision to leave behind what I have worked for in my communications and public relations work for such a long time. The two-year commitment with TFA is reassuring in that I have a direction and purpose. On the other hand, it’s difficult to wrap my mind around standing in front of a classroom teaching English rather than in an office creating campaigns and strategic plans. I am becoming more accustomed to the idea, but I think it’s going to take a little while to get used to. I was talking to a mentor on campus about my decision, and she reminded me of one of the huge advantages of Teach For America, the alumni network. Not only will I be supported throughout my TFA journey, but I will also be connected with thousands of diverse, committed, passionate former corps members in a variety of fields. If I’m still as passionate about education reform in two years as I am now, and I foresee even more of a commitment, then working for Teach For America is high on my list of dream jobs as well. “The sky is the limit!” my mentor exclaimed, and I tend to agree with her.

How It Works

When I explain that I’ve been offered a potential teaching position as a public relations major, I get lots of questions. Hopefully I can answer some of those questions here, but please visit the TFA website for more information about how committed individuals can get involved.

Q. How are you qualified to teach students?

A. As I understand it, I will be certified with a provisional license upon completing my degree, passing the PRAXIS test, following all TFA hiring procedures such as a background check, etc. Even though the provisional license is only for two-years, I will have the opportunity to take courses and workshops and earn my teaching certificate in the state of Kentucky if I choose to do so. Also, this summer I will take part in a five-week Summer Intensive Program that literally shoves me in front of a classroom to teach summer school in the morning and work with curriculum development and lesson plans in the afternoon. It’s nearly everything one needs to know shoved into just over a month. That’s not to say I will ever be prepared enough on Day 1, but I’m going to do my best to soak up all I can.

Q. Why Teach for America?

A. That’s a great question, and one I get most often. I’ll reference my previous post for the response. But I will add that my mom is an educator. She’s been teaching high school mathematics for 26 years, and I have had a unique perspective on the education system my entire life. I know how hard teachers try to do their best, but I know they can only do so much in a broken system that continues to perpetuate more of the same over innovation, success and change. Always one to do my part, I think that my gifts and abilities will allow me to help make a difference both in the community I serve as well as to the education system as a whole.

Q. Isn’t it scary to move into a new place and a new career field?

A. YES! But I’m familiar with it’s like to grow up in Appalachia, and I know I can empathize with a lot of the situations that I may see in the school I am placed in. After four years in a university residence hall, moving out on my own is actually one of the things I am most excited about, and I look forward to living an actual adult life rather than a collegiate adult life. As for the new career field, even though I still go back and forth sometimes, I am so excited for this challenging, difficult, crazy, exciting opportunity. I think I can do this. I know I can do this!

What Now?

It’s all down to the wire. I am to give Teach For America my final decision by January 23rd, and I will definitely update my followers here as well. For my final semester at Otterbein, along with finishing my Honors Thesis Project, one or two courses for my degree, and possibly a couple of education classes for preparation, I will continue to be a Resident Assistant and active in my community. I am beyond blessed to have a phenomenal support system both here at college and at home through my family, friends, and church family. I know that I serve a God that has a plan and will lead me through anything as long as I rely on Him. And I plan to do just that.

A First Opportunity: Update

31 Oct

Thank you for all the love and support after reading my first blog A First Opportunity about applying for Teach for America. I am happy to announce that I have been invited back for a final interviews to take place the first week of December. My application was thorough, and the organization felt they knew me well enough to process through to the final interviews. Though skipping this step bears no weight on my admission to the program, it was a great relief not to have to go through a phone interview process. I’m still completing lots of paperwork, but it sounds like things are really moving along. Nothing is set in stone, but I am looking forward to this final interview day to learn more about the program. Also, even if Teach for America isn’t for me, or I don’ t suit their needs, I can practice my individual and group interview skills throughout this process. Thanks again for all of your love!

 

I hope to send a new update soon!

A First Opportunity

21 Oct

Lots of new updates for the fall of my senior year, and I can barely keep them all straight! I debated whether or not to blog about this employment opportunity, but the more I think about it, the more I agree that taking a step in faith can only be a good thing. Upon graduation, which is May 18th by the way, I plan to commit to two years of service. Now this is pretty silly considering that I owe a truck-load in student loans, and probably won’t make much more than minimum wage, less in most cases, doing some pretty difficult work, and may be away from my family. But I’m oddly okay with that. I’ve been doing missions work for the past three summers, and I’ve been in Westerville at Otterbein University for the last four years. If it’s one thing I’ve learned while I’ve been away at school, it’s that I have a servant’s heart. So I’m going to serve. Now all of the professionals out there are shaking their heads and unfollowing my blog now, but that’s okay. Because I hope that those of you who are still out there are excited about my new adventures in service, wherever they may be.

My first opportunity is with Teach for America, a nonprofit organization devoted to changing the education system in America. You may not know it, but my mom has been teaching high school mathematics for 26 years. (26!) She teaches at the school I graduated from, and I’m happy to say that she is the only teacher I have ever had who kicked me out of her class. That’s a whole different story, but don’t worry, it worked out okay in the end.  Teach for America gives the opportunity to anyone who has a Bachelor’s Degree to give back to a rural or urban community in an impoverished area, mostly in low-income school districts and communities. Thankfully, I know what that’s like. Here is an excerpt of only part of my application:

I grew up in a small town of less than 3000 people, a farming community without many farms, a tobacco town, without much tobacco. The school district I graduated from has more than 70 percent of students on the free/reduced lunch program, and I know several families without running water. In my work through the summers, I have volunteered in the mountains of Appalachia and the desert of Mexico doing missions work in the most destitute of areas in North America. As I graduated and moved to Westerville, Ohio, I learned that even the most suburban of communities often have an unseen need. I spent my final summer as a college student researching summer lunch programs in the United States and dedicated my honors thesis to helping create sustainable, successful sites for children to receive hot lunches for free. I am aware that sometimes, it is the only meal they have access to all day. My experience with predominately low-income communities has been up-close and personal. Thankfully, I have never wanted for much of anything, and I have been blessed to receive a collegiate education. I have learned that while poverty does exist, there is a solution. That solution is education. An education, even through the high school level, acts as a sword and shield in the fight against poverty, and I believe that once students are empowered to change their situation, their circumstance, that education is the logical step toward change in America. Before that change can occur, though, there must be a change in education. I hope to take those first steps in change and work with Teach for America.

I hope that gives you cold chills, because I know it starts a fire in my heart. I am fully aware that the Teach for America application process is intimidating, to say the least. The organization is known for the full vetting of its hires, and I look forward to seeing how I match up. Did I go to school for education? No. Did I want to be a teacher at one time? A little. Do I know anything about standing in front of a classroom of students and teaching? Not particularly. Do I want to impact education and create real change? Yes, of course!  So this is my step in faith. If it’s God’s plan for me to be in a classroom, He will put me there. If that’s not His plan, see my next blog for A Second Opportunity, or maybe A Third Opportunity, etc. I know there is a plan, and because of the fire in my heart, this is how I’m going to chase after it.

I’ll step off of my soapbox for now. Enjoy this beautiful fall evening!

A Momentous Occassion

24 Sep

I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted, but I’ve been busy working on my thesis project, connecting with clubs and organizations, and beginning my SENIOR year! Ahh! So today I did the unthinkable, I applied for graduation. My name is on the page in black, white, and blue. I’m applying for a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations with minors in Journalism Writing and Online Publication Design. Sounds fancy, right? Right now, it sounds terrifying. I was looking at all my paperwork, and I thought it might be beneficial to have a copy of all the courses I’ve taken at Otterbein, and make sure that I don’t lose it. What a better place than the inter-webs?! Okay, so here goes.

General Education-

  • Elementary Spanish I & II
  • Body-Mind Awareness
  • Exercise Walking
  • College Algebra
  • Senior Honors Project I & II

Integrative Studies-

  • Growing Up in America
  • Issues in the Western Experience
  • Psychology and Human Nature
  • Inquiry & Society: Humanities Philosophy
  • CSI: Otterbein
  • Inquiry and Society: Fine Arts Film Studies
  • The Civic Apprenticeship
  • Leadership Practices

Public Relations Major-

  • Principles of Public Relations
  • Introduction to Communication Theory
  • Public Relations Techniques
  • Persuasion
  • Campaign Research, Planning and Stratagies
  • Public Relations Case Studies
  • Fundamentals of Public Speaking
  • Communication Practicum: CCPD
  • Public Relations Management Practicum
  • Interpreting Communication Research
  • PR Senior Portfolio

Journalism Design Minor-

  • Print Production
  • Web Production
  • Audio & Multimedia Production
  • WOBN Practicum (Radio)

Journalism Writing Minor-

  • Media Writing
  • Feature Writing
  • T&C Practicum
  • Media Law

Elective Courses

  • Interpersonal Communicaton
  • PR for Nonprofit Organizations
  • Nonprofit Management
  • Media Management
  • Managing and Organizing Information
  • Junior Honors Project Seminar
  • Thesis Writer’s Seminar
  • The Peer Mentor Experience I-V
  • The Helping Relationship
  • Internship- Living Learning Communities

Nonprofit Public Relations: A Course in Review

15 May

An Elective Course

As a junior at Otterbein University, I have quickly become accustom to the idea that I may very well exhaust the public relations courses that the university offers. The department assured me, though, to have no fear. Thankfully, there are special topics courses that are offered for two to four credit hours that help build on the knowledge gained from basic public relations classes such as “PR Principles” and “PR Techniques” with more specific direction such as “Health Care Case Studies” and “Nonprofit Public Relations.” How lucky for me that I am able to dive right into my passion, even if I am in the classroom for an extra few hours each week.

Be Our Guest

This Nonprofit PR course was taught by a professor I had previously had in basic level classes, but I was very excited to see a new element added: guest speakers! As a public relations professional, networking and making connections are very important aspects of the job, and as a professor, students appreciate being able to hear advice from the real world by working individuals. My professor brought in young professionals from After School All-Stars, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Experience Columbus, and Delta Gamma.

The range of speakers from an athletic organization, health care aspect, travel and tourism organization, and even a national sorority show how nonprofits can range in subject, and all are located in Columbus. Each guest speaker was candid an honest about their past and current work in the nonprofit sector. Even though they came from diverse background and varying duties at their current organization, it was clear that these individuals thoroughly enjoy what they do, even though they make sacrifices working for a nonprofit. I learned that sometimes climbing the corporate ladder stops after just a rung or two, and that when funds are low, paychecks suffer. These facts have not deterred me, though, and I look forward to experiencing some of my own trials and tribulations in the sector following graduation.

Partnering with a Local Nonprofit Organization

My favorite part of the class, and the part I feel that was most beneficial was our assignment to partner with a local nonprofit organization for the semester. My group had a common interest in health care communication, so we went for broke and chose Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Luckily, our professor had a contact at the hospital and we were able to interview Mary Ellen Peacock. Senior Strategist for the Marketing and Public Relations Department, Mary Ellen was instrumental in helping our project succeed.

We were able to use the hospital as a basis for research to create a boilerplate, press release, fact sheet, Q & A, and a profile with the information we learned through talking to Mary Ellen and through the website. Not only was Mary Ellen able to tell us about her position and her hospital, but the hospital industry in Columbus and throughout Ohio. Hearing first hand how hospitals function and the passion Mary Ellen has for what she does was contagious, and made us work even harder on our project.

Our Assignment

As a final project, our task was to complete a hypothetical one-year strategic plan for Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Whoa. At first, my group and I were intimidated at such a lofty task. But after talking with Mary Ellen and creating a SWOT Analysis for the hospital, we were able to see how where our fictional plan would fit into place. We focused on internal communications and spreading awareness of the PR process to doctors, researchers and administration of the hospital and focus on consistent communication between all parties. Here, you can see our final result. Warning: our plan was over ten pages, but received with great comments.

Overall, I found this class worthwhile and a breath of fresh air this semester. With only 2 credit hours, homework and tests were minimal, creating time for speakers and to focus our creative energy on our lengthy project. The real world aspect of the course gave a glimpse into my future and assured me that nonprofit communications is exactly where I need to be!

Soundslides Lab

30 Apr

Always a Student

Learning new software isn’t always the easiest thing to do, but here I’ve created a mini-slideshow using Audacity for the audio, Photoshop for photo editing (The photos are used via Creative Commons.) and Soundslides to put it all together.  Oh, and YouTube as a viewer so you can see my slideshow. Hope you enjoy it!

The Happiest 5k on the Planet: The Color Run

24 Apr

The Color What?

For my 21st birthday, my friends and I decided that we were going to celebrate in a unique and exciting way. One of my best friends, Holly, and I have birthdays that are just a few days apart. What could we do for our 21st birthdays that is awesome and unique and fun? Well, after a short Pinterest session and a call to our friend, Emily, we decided that we were going to run a 5K.

Now, let me start off by saying I am not a runner. I repeat, I am NOT a runner. But The Color Run, is not your average 5K. With considerations for everyone, The Color Run website boasts that participants can run, walk, crawl, or cart-wheel through the course and come out splashed in yellow, orange, blue, and pink no matter how fast or slow you choose to go. Participants are told to wear white, wacky costumes and get ready to be doused in color. The color is just colored corn-starch that is natural and safe. It comes out of  most clothing, though why would you wash your free Color Run t-shirt and headband, I’m not sure.

Preparing for the Run

This sounds like a fabulous idea. Get our exercise on and come out with some sweet pictures and a bunch of free stuff. No problem, right? Slight problem. The Color Run planned for the weekend between our birthdays was in Nashville, Tennessee. Thankfully, a road trip was right up our alley and we started planning the six-hour drive from Westerville, Ohio to Nashville, Tennessee for the weekend.

My friends and I do not frequent 5K events, and honestly, I don’t frequent the gym. Holly found an app for her iPhone called “Couch to 5K” and started training so she could run the route. Emily and I were content to sit on the couch with our besties Ben & Jerry and walk through downtown Nashville instead. We planned to wear flowers in our hair, bought the proper attire, mostly white of course, and set off on our adventure. Check out our route below!

On the Road

So, we’ve got a six-hour drive to kill some time, and I’m sure you’re wondering why we chose to do a 5K for our 21st birthdays instead of the usual celebratory festivities. That’s a great question. Holly, Emily and I are highly involved on campus and live rather conservative lifestyles. That’s not to say we don’t enjoy the spontaneous Margarita Monday, but turning 21 was more about being single, independent women and less about being able to purchase alcohol.

Even though The Color Run is a for-profit event, each run is partnered with a local charity in the city where The Color Run is held. For our run, the partner organization was Amputee Blade Runners, a nonprofit organization located in Nashville. When I first heard about the charity partner for our run during our planning process, I was all in. I knew I wanted to work with nonprofit organizations in the future, and putting together corporate partnerships like this one would be just amazing. The Amputee Blade Runners organization sponsors amputees and provides them with the prosthetic equipment they need to run and encourage active lifestyles.

You Are Here: Nashville, Tennessee

Emily Edwards, Katie McClain (that's me) and Holly Bruner after completing The Color Run: Nashville 2012

Emily Edwards, Katie McClain (that’s me) and Holly Bruner after completing The Color Run: Nashville 2012

When we arrived in Nashville, we were able to visit some really cool tourist attractions including B.B. King’s Restaurant and Blues Club  for dinner and a night on the town on Day One and The Loveless Cafe on the second night, where we ate until we couldn’t eat anymore. I skipped the best part, though, and that’s The Color Run. The run was led by representatives who received prosthetic running gear from Amputee Blade Runners, and it was so heartwarming to see them lead us off.

As officials released all 400,000 runners in waves of 1,000 for the safety of the runners and to spread out the color, we anxiously awaited our turn to go. Did I mention the race was sold out and registration was completely booked? What an encouragement! When it was finally time, Holly took off and ran her first, but definitely not last, 5K. It was a birthday present to herself, and we were so proud of her. Emily and I walked the course together in beautiful downtown Nashville. If you ever get a chance to visit, I’m sure the city would welcome you with open arms like it did for us. It was quite a sight. The course wrapped around through the city and around Titan’s Stadium with five stations of color ready to cover the participants. We crossed the finish line together and celebrated with the other color runners in The Festival of Color long after the run ended.

Why It Worked

So not only did I want to share my experience with The Color Run because it was awesome and fun, but the organization itself does a great job attracting runners, enthusiastically promoting the event and partnering with other organizations. Holly and I originally found The Color Run on Pinterest. Today, many organizations use this resource sharing website to promote their business, but in April of 2012, that wasn’t always the case. I give major props to The Color Run for advertising via social media to gain runners. As we visited the website, we realized this was right up our alley because the site is hilarious. The Color Run all ready looks like a blast, but the sarcastic and witty FAQ page and registration process helps runners feel at ease, and frankly cracked us up. The website and promoters alike were all super psyched about the run. From the emails runners get leading up to the race, to the free stuff they gave away from the moment we arrived until the race began were all ways to get the crowd pumped. And it worked. Loud music and a festival of color rounded out the event, so even if you got color in your eyes, all you remember is dancing on stage with the live DJ.

Partnering with nonprofit organizations could have been a PR move, and I’m sure The Color Run receives more press than it would if it was solely a for-profit 5K. As runners, though, we heard about Amputee Blade Runners all through the process, and the representatives who ran the 5K were treated more like celebrities than charity benefactors. I felt the connection was genuine, and learned a lot about the organization through The Color Run. My passion for  nonprofit organizations may shine through here, but I think this is what makes The Color Run worthwhile.

 

Sound Like Fun?

I never would have imagined that I would take a road trip for my 21st birthday, let alone participate in a 5K event. But not only was the experience a blast, I was really glad I was able to raise awareness for such a worthy cause in the Amputee Blade Runners. Interested in The Color Run? Register for some color-tastic fun across the country, or even in your own backyard. The Color Run has expanded to new cities each year, and are even returning to Nashville in October of 2013.

I’ve taken the liberty of finding some other awesome 5K events that. Some benefit local charities, but others are for-profit events that have themes that look awesome.  Check them out!

  • The Electric Run– Instead of color, try neon lights and electric music! Running in semi-darkness with light shows all through the course, this 5K is next on my list to try. They accept all runners and walkers alike. Similar to The Color Run, a partner charity organization is chosen in each city.
  • The Foam Fest– A self-described mud run and car wash for people, this run is so clean, it’s dirty! First get trampled in a mud run and then get squeaky clean with foam, soap and bubbles! Similar to The Color Run, a partner charity organization is chosen in each city.
  • The Krispy Kreme Challenge– Looking for a road trip? How about to beautiful North Carolina for some donuts! This 5K donates proceeds to North Carolina Children’s Hospital, and runners consume over 2,000 calories a person as they munch their way through the course.
  • Redlegs Run– Are you a Cincinnati Reds Baseball fan? Come out and support the Reds Community Fund in this fun 5K and support your favorite team. Wacky costumes are encouraged, and don’t be surprised to see some Cincinnati Reds players along the way!
  • Night of the Running Dead- Even though this for profit 5K is still in its planning phase, how much fun would it be to chase a group of humans as a Zombie? Or maybe run for your life…literally! This race to benefit the Huntsman Cancer Foundation is sure to leave you breathless as you not only run the 5K course but escape zombie runners or turn human runners into a zombie like yourself!

A Lesson In Crisis Management

25 Mar

Most people outside the world of Public Relations don’t realize the versatility and specialization that some types of PR require. There are experts in community relations, public issues, consumer relations, and even social media. For one of my Public Relations classes at Otterbein, I dug a little deeper into the ever exciting crisis management aspect of PR with a case study. Here’s a little bit of what I learned.

What is crisis management?

Crisis management is usually what comes to mind when someone mentions public relations. Scandals, mistakes and just plain bad publicity can result in a crisis where PR professionals can be called in to help remedy the situation. Examples range from  Johnson & Johnson’s Tylenol tampering incident in the early 80’s, the gulf coast oil spill disaster in 2010, and even the most recent trouble with the Royal Bank of Canada. These issues were each handled by public relations professionals for the good of their organization both in the time of the incident and sometimes for years afterward.

A Case Study: Susan G. Komen for the Cure

One of the easiest ways to learn about crisis communication is by taking a look at an example. For my project, I explored Susan G. Komen for the Cure as a case study.

The Situation

Susan G. Komen for the Cure was founded in 1982 by Nancy Brinker, and is today’s leading breast cancer non-profit and has raised nearly $2 billion for research, medical care and early detection programs. Susan G. Komen for the Cure decided to discontinue funding Planned Parenthood organizations in January of 2012. Investors, both corporate and in the form of potential donors, began to show support to Planned Parenthood leading Susan G. Komen executives to reverse their decision and continue funding the organization just weeks later, inciting reaction from the other side of the debate.

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