Civic Engagement and Social Responsibility with the Big Buddy Program

As public relations professionals our job is to sell an idea or brand of the companies we work for.  We have been taught to only represent clients or organizations that we will stand behind and trust.  How can we get our audiences on board with our ideas if we ourselves don’t believe in the company’s values?  This is where the importance of civic engagement and social responsibility become huge aspects of our careers.   

 

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Image courtesy of Mashable

 

As millennials, we bring new ideas and outlooks to the workforce.  We make purchases based on the social responsibility of companies, rather than just the products they are selling.  We aren’t just looking for a high salary; we also want jobs that will make us feel fulfilled and happy.  The corporate world has taken note, and more companies are taking on nonprofit values to become more appealing to consumers.  

 

“Integrating corporate socially responsible policies into one’s business is perhaps the most effective way for business to increase their profit margins and retain employees, all while improving the lives of their consumers and the planet.”  – Karen Kwiatek

 

Perspective employees are looking to work for companies that have an uplifting environment, ethical standards, and are transparent in business. Being socially responsible is important for all businesses today.  With social responsibility comes civic engagement.  Millennial job seekers also want to work for organizations that make a difference in the community.   

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Image courtesy of Smart & Resilient Cities

It is no longer acceptable for a company to just write a check to a nonprofit. People want to see brands going above and beyond their philanthropic duty.  We want our efforts, and the efforts of the companies we work for, to seem worthwhile. We want to know that we are actually making a difference.  Government entities are no longer the driving force of change in communities.  It is our job as people in public relations to spread good ideas and be promoters of fulfilling actions.  

 

The Big Buddy Program models itself on helping and inspiring the youth of Baton Rouge.  They hope to make a positive difference in the lives of children who don’t have role models to look up to.  Civic engagement is the prime component of the Big Buddy Program.  All of the employees, mentors, and volunteers of Big Buddy devote their time and energy to the community through their various jobs and good deeds.  We at Lagniappe Public Relations are representing Big Buddy and are helping them promote a higher quality of life for the children Big Buddy impacts.  Not one of our efforts is driven by selfishness; it is all out of improving a societal issue.  

The mission of Big Buddy Program is to provide access to positive role models and learning experiences to children who lack these valuable resources in the Greater Baton Rouge community.

For more information, or to contact Lagniappe Public Relations, please email us at lagniapperelations@gmail.com. For more information on Big Buddy Program, visit their website or Facebook.

 

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Caroline Beslin is a senior studying mass communication at Louisiana State University.  She hopes to pursue a career in public relations in the New Orleans area after graduation.  Caroline is an avid runner and enjoys competing in races across the south.  She would love to one day combine her love of meeting new people, hearing their stories, and learning from others to create meaningful work in the PR world- while still having the time to bake the perfect batch of chocolate chip cookies.

 

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Public Relations Professional Values and Competencies

The field of public relations is in the spotlight with the popularity of shows such as Scandal. Dreams of stepping into the shoes of Olivia Pope and doing whatever it takes to help your client fill the hearts and minds of many people across America. The reality is the field of PR is filled with professionals who abide by the values of the profession. The Public Relations Society of America clearly identifies PR’s core values: advocacy, honesty, expertise, independence, loyalty and fairness. It is especially important to abide by these values when dealing with nonprofits. Our nonprofit is Big Buddy and if we don’t abide by our values, the backlash could hurt many of the kids who need the services Big Buddy provides. All of the values are relevant to our campaign but certain ones stand out to me more than others. Advocacy is the most important duty for us during this process. Big Buddy does great things for our community and it is essential that we take our position as a spokesperson very important. The next value that really hit home is expertise. As college students and millennials we possess expertise that older professionals don’t. Our ideas are fresh and our minds are open to best serve our client. Finally, fairness is essential when completing our campaign. We have to walk the line of giving our opinion but also understanding the stances of others (Big Buddy, media, etc.) involved in the process.

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Image courtesy of Word Cloud

         Public Relations requires professionals be competent in various skills and situations. Ten competencies employers look for include action orientation, dealing with ambiguity, creativity, decision quality, problem solving, motivating others, planning, priority setting, strategic agility, and time management. In the short time we have worked with Big Buddy time management seems to be a competency I have had to learn to deal with the most. Senior year is hectic because while school is important, preparing for post graduation takes up a lot of my time and attention. As a group we were able to show how we were action oriented by volunteering at Big Buddy’s Burger Bash. It was great to show our organization that we do more than just come up with great ideas; we back up our ideas with action as well. The competency that I have been most impressed that our group possesses is problem solving. One of the first requests of Big Buddy is that we find a venue that would allow us to use their space free of charge. This task sounded hard to accomplish but when we put our heads together and used all of our resources we were able to come up with multiple options. Values and competencies are crucial in PR and I am already seeing how the campaign is helping us improve in both.

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Image courtesy of Dr. Copple-Moore

The mission of Big Buddy Program is to provide access to positive role models and learning experiences to children who lack these valuable resources in the Greater Baton Rouge community.

For more information, or to contact Lagniappe Public Relations, please email us at lagniappe relations@gmail.com. For more information on Big Buddy Program, visit their website or Facebook.

-Grant Tarleton

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I am a senior mass communications major at LSU. I love to have fun and be spontaneous. My dream job would be to host a talk show but becoming a real estate developer will do as well.

Expertise in field and the Big Buddy Program

Image courtesy of ChucksBlog

Succeeding in public relations takes more than just big ideas and good interpersonal skills. To become an expert, you have to gain extensive experience creating campaigns for a multitude of clients and become familiar with all of the various types of brands out there.

 

PRSA said it best when they pointed out that PR leaders need to be quick, flexible, bold and adaptable to be successful.

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Image courtesy of TheNextWeb

In public relations, both nonprofit organizations and corporations tend to set similar goals. According to PR Newser  nonprofits, like other organizations, are trying to raise visibility for their groups and succeed in their missions.

 

As important it is to create an impressive campaign, it’s the execution that really sets you apart from other professionals in this field. Potential employers want to see that you can not only plan out and organize tactics/strategies, but that you can see it all the way through and prove that the campaign was an overall success for your client.

 

In order to prove your client’s success, you must be able to measure the impact your campaign made. This begins with identifying objectives early on in the planning stage, identifying tangible numbers for these objectives, and providing some sort of survey/measurement tool at the end of the campaign to see if the new numbers match or succeed your goal.

 

This method is something our agency has recently started learning.

 

Although it’s still early in the semester, our agency has begun assisting the Big Buddy Program and developing a comprehensive campaign for this nonprofit organization to follow. In our first attempt to measure our goal of increasing volunteers by 20%, we originally thought distributing a survey to each volunteer at every event would be the most effective way to keep track of our success.

 

Our professor pointed out that simply using a sign in/out sheet would be both efficient and easy.

 

This brings me to my next point—don’t overthink it. Don’t confuse the term “expertise” with having to overcomplicate each task or make things harder than they need to be.

 

Another tip Creativity Unbound  suggests is to “remember all of us are better than one of us.” Collaborate with your team and collaborate with your client. Becoming an expert in this field means allowing others to contribute ideas and suggestions, and you listen to determine which solution is most fitting.

 

Bottom line—there isn’t one set definition of what’s considered an expertise in this field. It’s a combination of skill sets and experience that will make a PR professional successful.

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Ashley Martin

Upcoming May 2016 graduate of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, majoring in mass communication with a minor in business administration. Highly motivated to launch professional career relating to marketing communication or public relations in the New Orleans, LA area beginning summer/fall of 2016. Pinterest enthusiast and proud owner of a yellow labrador retriever.

 

 

 

Service Learning and The Big Buddy Program by Frances Baumler

Well, this marks the first blog post for the Spring 2016 Big Buddy campaigns group, also known as Lagniappe Public Relations or LPR. The semester is off to a fantastic start and we have already hit the ground running with building our agency’s brand and brain storming program improvements for our client.

Over the next couple of months, our agency will be assisting Baton Rouge nonprofit, Big Buddy Program in raising awareness for the program and its events taking place in the community.

Throughout the course of the semester, our group will be engaged in service learning. According to Fayetteville State University , service learning is a “teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities.”

Luckily for us, our client is organizing a lot of exciting events in the next couple of months that will provide us with hands-on service learning experience.

The 26th annual Big Buddy Burger Bash is coming up in February. Catholic High School students will be serving burger meals for $10, and all proceeds will go to providing academic scholarships for students enrolled in the Big Buddy Program.

This March, the Providence Corporate Wellness Cup, a 5k race held in the heart of downtown Baton Rouge, will be our opportunity to create buzz and raise funds for the Big buddy Program. Last year, the race donated $16,000 to the Big Buddy Program. Registrants can sign up individually, or as part of a team. If you are interested in participating in this year’s race please visit here.

The well-known Dancing for Big Buddy 10th Annual Show will take place at LSU’s Pete Maravich Assembly Center in April. Community leaders come together for a fun ballroom dance competition.

Last but not least, the Crawfish King Cookoff Festival will be held in May. Local boilers will compete for the Crawfish King Title. Proceeds will go back to Big Buddy.

LPR is excited to assist Big Buddy faculty in attending and serving these events. We are also looking forward to getting to know those are directly affected by Big Buddy’s extended learning programs: the students and the mentors. These events do more than just raise money for this organization; they inspire local youth to reach their full potential.

We hope that our participation in these activities will provide us with a greater understanding of what the Big Buddy Program needs in terms of mentors, volunteers and donations. These opportunities will help us gain a perspective of what a nonprofit organization, such as Big Buddy Program, needs to successfully raise awareness and fund.