Category Archives: COMM 4333–PR Connections

The ‘How To’ on Social Media News Releases


In our PR class, we have been learning about the in’s and out’s of writing in this field. We’ve written news releases, personality profiles, learned about and made infographic’s and even written PSA’s. For our final project, we’re describing the content of a Social Media News Release.

What’s a Social Media News Release?— They’re very similar to traditional press releases, but contain more digital information. SMNR’s contain links, tags and RSS feed so journalists can read them quickly and distribute them fast. SMNR’s are much more visual than traditional ones which contain mostly text that journalists, often times don’t have the time to read through. For a world that keeps getting “faster,” SMNR’s are especially important. With SMNR’s, companies can use the online tools to track potential clients and reach the right people.

An SMNR allows you to keep up with a hungry social media world driven by fast paced access to information! It’s kind of like choosing to get a coffee at Starbucks the traditional way by walking up to the counter and ordering it, whereas an SMNR would be like pulling up to the drive-through. They both have the same goal in mind, but an SMNR would be slightly faster.

Here’s a great video which tells all about SMNR’s:

RealWire says of SMNR’s, “The content of the SMNR can either be produced in the “traditional” narrative style or be deconstructed so that the core facts, quotes, contact details and boilerplate are all individually segregated to allow users to disseminate its various elements. It can be company branded and can accommodate images, audio and video (including embedded social media video including YouTube) as well as links to relevant websites and coverage of resulting online conversations.”

According to INC, a SMNR involves these key elements:

1.    Headline: exactly as it says, focus on brevity. Get to the point and don’t try to be too creative. A few keywords should get the job done.

2.    Secondary headline (optional): If you have an extremely important nugget of information that you think will get users to read on, put it here. Otherwise, skip to the overview.

3.    Overview: A brief summary of the release and what you’re covering. This is where you will hook the reader or lose them, so keep it under two paragraphs, use keywords and put real thought into every single sentence.

4.    Body: The so-called meat of the release, this should be the news. Don’t scatter bias in here; just lay the facts out for what you are pitching (think about it like a journalist would, and cover the who, when what, where, why and how).

5.    Facts: You need some statistical data or bullet points to back up your claim from above. This information should be easily shareable so if someone wanted to pull this right out of your release, they could.

6.    About the Company: Very brief company bio with a link to your website, Twitter feed and Facebook fan page.

7.    Multimedia links: The social aspect of the release, this should include videos on YouTube, images, RSS feeds and more. You don’t want people to be driven away from your message, but you want to be seen as a useful resource.

8.    Relevant links: This is a good way to promote your company and what you’ve done a bit more. If you have related releases, include links to them here. While this particular product might not be a fit, if you’ve kept someone’s interest this long, they may find your other products of use.

9.    Tags: Recommended sharing methods, whether via social bookmarking sites, Twitter hashtags or Facebook fan pages.

10.    Contact: This may sometimes be overlooked, but don’t forget to include your name, email, Twitter alias and more. If you are willing to put all of that info out there and stand behind your release, it lends it a bit more credibility.

Kathryn Vercillo says of this, “The reason that you’ll want to use a social media press release instead of a traditional press release is because it offers benefits to the online reader. For example, you can use keywords to optimize the SMPR and make it more noticeable to search engines which will get it more attention on the web.”

Here’s an example of a template Kathryn Vercillo uses:

Image Credit: Kathryn Vercillo, Hub Pages

Advantages of using a SMNR? More people can get your news faster, and share it with others. Your clients and journalists want information as fast as possible, in as little words and they want it to be catchy. The quicker you are able to do this, the more likely your chances are of getting your information published. Social Media Training offers these tips on the advantages of SMNR’s:

  • Optimised for search
  • Optimised for conversation
  • Optimised for sharing
  • Tells the entire story through multimedia
  • Provides context on complicated stories
  • Makes a better impression, visually, than a wire release

Disadvantages? There don’t seem to be too many except that SMNR’s cannot be published and distributed. For a company that is not as up to date with social media, they would be more difficult to reach.

When should you use an SMNR? An SMNR should be written anytime you have news that needs to reach a large group of people, fast.

How do I do this? There are several different online tools available to help you make your own SMNR:




Examples: Here are a few examples from big companies like Cisco and Southwest Airlines and what their SMNR’s look like.


Centrum Vitamins


Southwest Airlines

Rolls Royce

Tips: Here are a few tips for writing your own SMNR:

  • Lou Dubois of INC , says you should remember to include keywords in your SMNR saying, “It will help your search engine optimization and get your point across quickly yet effectively.”

Also, SEO Services Groupadvises:

  • Use bullet points and Numbering it makes the viewers to understand the points easily.
  • Use SEO tactis for certain keywords so the press release moves up in search engine.
  • Use links within your text to direct people to your site and to articles about your site.
  • Use multimedia links like audio files or embedded videos.
  • Use “Share with” plugin for popular bookmarking sites like Digg or
  • Use additional inforamtions like logo,maps,charts and photos of your product,events,website location and contact numbers.
  • Use Attractive Headline and Sub Heading, it helps to grasp people attention.

Got Eye Troubles?


I’ve never had eye problems in my life. I have only ever needed reading glasses, which I would only use when spending more than half an hour reading something. But since I have been in college, my eye sight has definitely caused me more problems. I can’t spend more than ten minutes in front of a computer screen without my eyes and head hurting.

Ragan’s PR Daily posted a great info graphic on how to maintain healthy eye sight while using electronics. I found it especially helpful, and glad I am not the only one who feels like their eyesight is slowly being decimated each time I log onto the computer….

I found the 20/20/20 rule very helpful, and will definitely need to implement this during my long nights spent in front of the computer, writing papers for my English professors. 18 days of that left…Praise the Lord.

My solution? Warby Parker glasses….check em out! I love their vintage themed glasses, and when you buy a pair, they give a pair to someone in need. Warby Parker works to help optometrists and eye clinics in developing countries like India and Cambodia. It’s a great organization..if you wear Toms, you should have some Warby Parker’s too.

And here’s that info graphic I was telling you about…

Image Credit: Daily Infographic


Ho Hey


This is completely off-topic and not PR related…

but wait, doesn’t PR encompass people working together, relating to each other and using social media to do so?

I guess it fits then.

I’ll do a little “publicity” for The Lumineers.

Really in love with this song…

PR and Gendercide


This blog is an assignment for one of my classes this semester, where I blog about various PR things, but am also able to share my own thoughts and perspectives. It’s my blog, I’ll share what I want. What do PR and Gendercide have to do with each other? Well, at first glance, it may not seem like it…but it has everything to do with each other.

Let’s back up.

What exactly is gendercide? As you know, due to the influence of technology and social media, people are becoming more aware of what is going on around the world. Suddenly, India and China are no longer two countries very far away, they’re brought closer by the presence of social media. And as we’re learning more about these countries and their cultures, we’re beginning to see things that we would rather not see. Call it cultural norms or tradition, but what is happening to the women in these countries cannot be ignored. Over the last 50 years, more than 250,000,000 women have been eradicated. They’re gone. Not here. Due to social pressures, families are being pressured for sons, and daughters are becoming expendable.

I recently came across a documentary trailer for an organization that is trying to tell the world a message. Will you take a few minutes and listen?

This is a big issue to me. Two of the most precious people in the world to me were victims of gendercide.

Esther and Emma Grace

Image Credit: Kate + Kris Photography

Image Credit: Kate + Kris PhotographyEsther and Emma Grace

These are my baby sisters.

They were both abandoned after their birth in China by their parents because they were both born, girls.

Two little girls.

Two different sets of birth parents.

Two different reasons.

Both abandoned.

Both, girls.

My family and I first became aware of the many little girls in China in need of families, and in 2003 we began the process of adoption. In August 2004, Emma Grace was placed in our arms and 18 months later, we traveled back to China to bring Esther home. (18 months after that we brought my sweet brother Asher home also; though he is not a victim of gendercide, but he was also a victim of abandonment.)

In China, tradition says that boys are favored over girls. For one, boys care for their parents in their elderly years, while a daughter will care for her husband’s parents. Since there is no retirement system in China, parents rely on their children for this. This became an issue when China decided to start dealing with population concerns by enforcing the one child rule. This has left many couples having to make a difficult decision, of wanting a daughter, yet needing a son. With the prevalence of ultrasound technology, many couples can find out the sex of their baby and choose to terminate the pregnancy if they desire. Ultrasound technology has been outlawed, but it’s still going on. And for couples who don’t have an ultrasound and have a daughter, the options become more difficult. Many couples will feel pressure from their families. Some may deal with the pressure. But others will have to find another option, and somehow get rid of the daughter. Because giving up a child for adoption is not allowed in China, couples have no choice but to abandon their daughter. And then try again, hopefully for a boy. For the lucky girls, parents will abandon their daughter in a place where she can be easily located, such as a market, train station or hospital. For the ones who are not so lucky, many little girls have been found drowned in rice fields or rivers. It’s very sad.

(I should add that boys are also abandoned in China, most of the time due to birth defects. But this isn’t as prevalent as girls being abandoned because of their gender.)

Esther and Emma Grace were amongst the lucky ones. My sisters were both abandoned by their parents and found and transferred to an orphanage where they were cared for until we adopted them.

I’d like to think that my sister’s birth parents loved their daughters, and abandoned them because they wanted to do what was best. Esther was born with some medical needs that required surgery, and we can assume that her parents were unable to afford the medical costs. Whatever the reason, we know that God worked their lives in this way so that they would become apart of our family. This is why I love adoption, because God can take a seemingly hopeless situation and turn it around to make something beautiful. I often wonder about their birth parents, and I hope that as my sisters grow, we will have educated them enough that they will not hate their birth parents, but love them for the sacrifice they made. Sometimes we often forget of what a sacrifice adoption is, for the families. Their loss, our gain.

This video makes me cry every time I watch it. It’s told from the perspective of the birth mother, who’s story is rarely told.

But Esther and Emma Grace are the lucky ones. And it’s because of them that it’s my responsibility to educate others about their past, what they came from…which is something that is still going on today. Little girls in China are still being abandoned, still being murdered simply because of their gender. While China has started realizing the problem and making small steps to combat it, it’s still a problem. Today, 118 boys are born for every 100 girls. This is a huge imbalance. Even now, there are many men without wives. And the problem will only continue to get worse.

And then there’s India. With families living in poverty and a caste-system, though outlawed, still governs their daily lives. If you watched the video, you could see how one couple has given birth to seven daughters…killed and buried each of them.

This is all so very difficult, and there’s really no one solution that will cause all of this to stop. We’re dealing with cultures so very different from our own, and social pressures we couldn’t imagine. But we can educate. We can teach women that they have value, that they are loved, cherished and desired. And also, teach the men this. That having a daughter is just as wonderful as a son.

So how does PR intersect with this issue? By spreading the word about the documentary. Show your friends the preview, tell them about it. Telling people through facebook, twitter, youtube is the best way we can show people to what is happening in our world. Just look at how KONY 2012 has swept the world. I believe Kony is just the start of people becoming more aware of the issues our generation faces. If you’re a woman, you have even more of an obligation…

Can you imagine being forced, or feeling like you have to kill your daughter, to honor your husband, family and society by bringing a son into the world? I can’t help but feel for these women who are forced to do the unthinkable because their culture has told them they aren’t worth living.

Let’s do something about our fellow sisters who are disappearing in the world…

It’s pretty crazy to think that the three most deadly words in the world are,

Its a Girl

Here are a few more articles on the prevalence of gendercide in the world:

Baby’s death in India blamed on father’s anger she was born a girl

The Afghan girls who live as boys

Its a girl: the three deadliest words in the world

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.

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: