Author Archives: seravirginia

About seravirginia

navigating the new world of public relations...

Instagram + Facebook


Instagram is quickly becoming one of the biggest fads in social media. I’d say I’m much more apt to use Instagram than Facebook these days. I really like Instagram because photography is a major passion of mine, and it combines the two together. I like being able to take, edit and share my photo’s with people I know, and also seeing their photos.

Just this week, Facebook announced it would buy Instgram for $1 billion, leaving many fans worried this combination would hinder their fun with the app. Instagram isn’t nearly as big as Facebook and has privacy controls, which some users are afraid will be revoked with this recent combination.

According to Ragan’s PR Daily, most fans are angry. In fact, via twitter, one in ten tweets are planning on deleting their accounts. While I’m not happy that Facebook is using its money and power to control other social networking sites, I won’t delete my Instagram account. I use it pretty frequently and still enjoy its features, and will continue to until it to turns into another Facebook. But hopefully by then, there will be some new trendy social media site. Who knows what the future holds, but for now, I’m sticking with Instagram.

Interview with a Hula Hooping Missionary


Image Credit: Sera Manubens

Here is a glimpse into the Personality Profile assignment I did for our COMM class this semester. I have the great privilege of working with one of my friends, who is making a difference around the world by spreading joy through hula hoops!

The Hula Hooping Missionary

Hoola Hoops, the beloved child’s toy, are coming back. They’ve quickly become a new trend in the exercise world, but on the other side of the world, in places like Kenya and Brazil, they are making an appearance thanks in part to one young woman who is trying to change the world, one hula hoop at a time.

Carissa Caricato, 25, of Tampa, calls herself the first “hula hooping missionary,” and her goal is to spread joy through the distribution of these fun toys. Caricato founded Hoola for Happiness, a non-profit organization that seeks to share the love of God and spread joy to the world, one hoop at a time, one life at a time.

Caricato started Hoola for Happiness after going on a missions trip to Haiti in 2010. The idea came after she had just begun taking hula hoping lessons, per a friend’s suggestion. A few months later, she was back in Haiti, this time taking three travel sized hula hoops with her. She was marveled by the way this simple toy brought so much joy to the children she was with, many of which had never seen a hula hoop before.

Months later, while at a women’s conference in Dallas, she began to put together her love for hula hooping and missions. This birthed the idea of Hoops for Haiti, and then later expanded to the world, calling it Hoola for Happiness. The idea was simple, taking hula hoops to spread joy and use this as a conduit to share the gospel.

“At the conference they were asking us what makes you excited? What brings you joy? And I realized that hula hooping and sharing God’s love are what I am passionate about,” said Caricato.

In just over a year and a half, Hoola for Happiness has gone from just a dream to a non-profit  501c3 organization. With the help of a few friends, Caricato and her team have taken the hoops beyond just Haiti. She has been spotted hula hooping in many places, from airports in Omaha to parks in London and schools in Kenya. To date, hula hoops have been distributed to over thirteen countries including India, Cambodia, Brazil and Uganda.

“My goal at first was to tell [the] vision to one person a day. And through this I got the logo created, flyers done and we had a launch party in December 2010. I thought it would just be a charitable initiative… I never imaged a non profit,” Caricato explained.

The message of Hoola for Happiness is simple: spread joy. Working with kids and adults in other countries, the hula hoop is used to spread the joy of hooping and from this, Caricato is able to share where her joy comes from, and that being the love of God.

“[It is] The joy of having a walk with God and knowing he makes all things work for good. That’s still my purpose, without the hoops. I get to love them, laugh with them, spread joy and build relationships all through the hoop,” she said.

Coming from a background in Public Relations, building relationships is important to Caricato, not only with the people she meets overseas, but also the local community. She is passionate about seeing more people go on missions trips. Next year, she hopes to have Hoola for Happiness represented in over 50 countries.

“My heart is sharing the love of God with the world and showing it with as many people as possible. I want to lead joy trips and take people all over the world and see their lives changed and the way they live their lives.”

Caricato and her team have gone into many areas where they don’t speak the language.

“When we arrive, there is always an awkward silence and hundreds of people staring at us. In Uganda this past June, I found myself standing in front of 300 children at a medical facility. As I took the hoops out and began to dance and sing, the mood over the entire place changed as they saw what fun I was having. It was such a joyful time.”

Unsure of what is next, Caricato continues to pursue her dream of Hoola for Happiness. She quit her job at a non-profit organization in Tampa to devote all of her time to this new passion God has given her. She now spends her days meeting new contacts, traveling and speaking at conferences and hula hooping wherever she goes. She recently moved out of her house, sold many of her possessions and is living with friends, during the times she is in Tampa.

“God showed me this is where he wants me to do ministry, and opened the door. I left my job on a leap of faith and I’ve been doing this eleven months now full time,” she says.

Caricato’s vision is continuing to expand. Recently, she and volunteers have been making their own hoops, which they are calling “wordless hoops.”

“The hoops are made out of piping and different colored tape. The colors white, gold, black, red and green symbolize the Gospel story, which we have been using to spread the Gospel.”

Caricato recently returned from taking 30 wordless hoops to Haiti, where she and another volunteer visited orphanages, schools and organizations, leaving the hoops behind a few at a time. She’s looking into beginning manufacturing the hoops in Haiti, to provide jobs to locals.

“What’s Next? I’m heading to India later this month and then we’ll see what happens. I’m praying about leading a small team throughout Southeast Asia and filming a joy documentary over the summer.”

“This has changed everything,” she says. “God has changed my heart and I have grown so much, and he has rescued me from so much. That’s what life is worth living for, glorifying him and spreading his goodness to the ends of the earth. Hoola hooping may be part of it for awhile, but it’s one day at a time.”

For more information, check out the Hoola for Happiness website.

TOW 13: Writing an Introduction


So, you’re giving a speech and someone else has been assigned the task of introducing you. It’s your job to write out the introduction and make sure the person giving it does so in a way that connects with the audience and is a good transition to your speech. OR you’re the one giving the introduction…

Image Credit: Talk Nerdy 2 Me

Here are a few tips on how to give, or write an engaging introduction…

1. Communicate with the person giving your speech. If you’re able, make sure you speak beforehand, with the person who will be giving the introduction. Be sure to tell them how you want the introduction given, what kind of body language they should use and what things they can emphasize. Taking this step will allow the person giving the speech to understand what you are looking for, and help you feel more at peace about it.

2. Don’t give away too much information. It’s good to highlight some biographical information about yourself, maybe where you grew up or went to school, but don’t allow the introduction to tell the audience all about who you are. Save some of the information for your speech…maybe use some in a story that can segway into your topic.

3. Think about your audience. Who are you talking to? What kind of things will your audience be interested in hearing about you? First impressions are key…so what is something you can write in your introduction that will allow the audience to make a connection with you before you begin speaking.

4. Be enthusiastic and use body language. Even if you are giving an introduction for someone else, be sure to use enthusiasm and good body language to get the audience excited. It’s this first step that will get the audience engaged in the speaker, so this is a key part.

For more information and tips on writing a good introduction or giving one, be sure to check out Lisa B Marshall’s blog.

TOW 12: Podcasts


I think podcast’s can be especially helpful for all students who are working in the field of PR. They’re especially helpful for new PR students who are trying to learn and seeking advice from the experts. Although, I must admit, they can be a little confusing if you’re listening to one that features commentators who are “in the know” and well, you’re not quite there.

I chose two by Marketing Over Coffee. Why? I’m an avid coffee lover. It’s true. But also, I like the fact that their podcasts are never too long. I have a short attention span, so I can’t listen to some podcasts that go on for 45 minutes-1 hour.

During the first podcast, Wall and Penn discussed the fact that Pinterest is worth $1 billion dollars. That’s interesting to me since it just became popular and look how much money it’s worth. Same as Instagram. They talked about how different companies have been bought for different amounts of money including Myspace, Xynga and others.

There were other “techy” things talked about…but they lost me during that time.

They also talked about Titanic, and how there was an uprising on Twitter about how several people didn’t know it was real. I’m sorry, what? Some people apparently haven’t been reading their history books recently.

The second podcast I listened to talked about new iPad, Apple “techy” news. I told you they were really in the know about technical stuff. They also discussed the Facebook cover photos for Timeline, and how there are “rules” for what you can post as your cover photo. It seems unlikely that they will have the “force” to keep up with all of the users’ cover photos. And, moving into the technical/digital age the Encyclopedia Brittanica will no longer be published in print form–it’s all going online. This would make sense since they need to be able to keep up with sources like Wikipedia. Students are much more likely to search for information on Wikipedia than open a huge Encyclopedia, so this is probably a good decision.

Personally though, podcasts are just not for me. I have about 30 podcasts (they’re sermons, mind you) on my iTunes right now, and I’ve only listened to one or two. Not sure why I keep them on there…maybe it’s the hope that one day I’ll become interested and listen to them. This is just my opinion, but I realize that I’m much more able to retain content by reading it than listening.

If you’d like to hear more about Marketing Over Coffee, click here.


TOW: 11 The Info on Infographics


Infographics have quickly become a popular reality in the social media world. In a world where people only want to look at and read fast-paced things, infographics are a great way to visually capture people. They take hard facts and information which previously would be read, and turn them into an illustrated picture. Honestly, I think they are genius. I am much more apt to look at an infographic with arrows and letters and pictures to further the thought being described, instead of reading an article which gives the same idea. They give a clean, fresh outlook on new material being delivered. The way social media is continuing to change, it’s no surprise to see something like the infographic taking off.

Image Credit: Marketing Julep

What is an Infographic? It’s a new way of telling information, in a new media. Infographics share information, including strategies and formulas, in a visual way. It’s kind of like a graphic essay. The key to creating a good infographic is to make sure all of the information is covered, and your audience can take one look at it and understand what you are trying to convey. This requires the creator being objective with how they design, using the right information, wording it correctly, using pictures, not too many symbols and proper placement.

Image Credit: SEO hatch

The best way to go about creating an infographic for your business or client would be to hire a designer, unless you are quite experienced in digital designs. If you’re feeling artsy, there are several simple “how to” guides available online with a quick Google search. I myself, have no idea how one would go about creating one, though I’d love to figure out how.

Personally, for my client, I’d love to create an infographic which shows the supporters of Hoola for Happiness, how their funding puts hula hoops in the hands of children overseas. I think it’d be a great way to help our supporters feel more connected and involved with what is going on in our organization. We already have a blog and youtube channel, but infographics are the new way to share lots of information.

Here are a few popular infographics…I picked the first two because they deal with hipsters and geeks, which I find the most funny to look at.

Image Credit: Salty Waffle

Image Credit: Daily Infographic

Hoola for Happiness


One of my favorite people in this world is my friend, Carissa. She is probably the most joyful and exuberant person I know..always leaving some of her joy wherever she goes. I met her through one of my best friends, last year and was quickly drawn to her not only because we quickly became friends, but we also share the same passion: missions. But what’s cool is that Carissa combined her love for missions with another of her passions, hula hooping and started a not-for-profit organization last year called Hoola for Happiness. Carissa calls herself the first “hula hooping missionary” because she takes hoops overseas on missions trips and uses them as a way to meet people and share the Gospel. In the last two years, Hoola for Happiness has taken hoops to over ten countries and multiple cities around the US.

Right now, Carissa is in Haiti working with a few different ministries, putting on hooping performances, playing with kids and sharing the Gospel. Every where she goes, she leaves a hula hoop behind with the local people she has met or with an organization. This trip in Haiti is extra special because it’s the first trip she’s been able to share the new hand-made Gospel “wordless” hoops. Each hoop was handmade with different colors, symbolizing the Gospel story which can be shared with children and adults around the world.Part of this trip also involves exploring the possibility of moving production of the hoops down to Haiti, to provide jobs and training. In missions, it’s important to be leaving people with the help they need, alongside giving them the fruit of life.

Last year, I took hoops to Cambodia and Liberia, representing Hoola for Happiness. It was so exciting to see the reaction on the kids’ and adults’ faces as they came face to face with a hoop for the first time. There was so much joy and laughter as they each tried out the hoop, not realizing how difficult it can be at first. Most of the kids in Liberia picked it up right away, probably due to the fact that they are great dancers! I love being able to work alongside Carissa and seeing her heart and passion for this organization continue to develop. She has a heart not only for the world, but mobilizing those here locally to make an impact in their communities and beyond.

Check out this video below to see some of the adventures Hoola for Happiness has taken around the world this past summer:

TOW: 10 Twit Twit Twitter


I actually needed someone to explain to me what a Twitter chat is, because I had no idea. I’m still relatively new to the world of twitter, and seldom use it. I enjoy reading tweets from other people, but I usually have to remind myself to tweet, because I will forget.

This week we were supposed to participate in a public relations twitter chat. I think twitter chats are especially useful for people heavily involved in using twitter.  They can also be good for students like myself who are interested in learning more about PR and this is a fun way to do so.

I participated in one, but was so confused I didn’t end up saying anything, and actually didn’t stay long through it. The twitter chat went super fast and I had a hard time keeping up with it all, especially since I came in late. The one I participated in was #blogchat with Mark Collier. Tonight’s topic was about blogs and how to make the most of yours. This was interesting to me especially since I have a blog that I’m keeping for my PR class and I want to make sure it isn’t boring. There was some good information shared like changing up your blog every once in awhile to give it a fresh look, having an “about me” page that is especially unique to fit with your personality and of course, building up relationships with other bloggers. It was cool to see “how it all worked” but I didn’t find that I especially benefited from the chat. All of the information shared was stuff I already know that has been taught to me in either I know a lot, or my professors are doing a good job. That’s good either way.

For me, I just didn’t enjoy the twitter chat as much as I thought I would. It’s all about what each person likes, and for me, I’d much rather read someone’s blog then participate in a fast-paced chatting experience.


NOTE: This is a TOW for week 7, but posted on week 10.