Thursday, February 6, 2014

FGCU PR Honors Student + FPRA Professionals + Nonprofits = #Success

By Vanessa L. Fernandez
Senior, Florida Gulf Coast University

As a student in the Florida Gulf Coast University Honors Program, I was presented with the opportunity to study my area of interest, public relations, more in-depth during this past Fall 2013 semester. In order to gain a deeper understanding of public relations in the nonprofit sector, I set out to explore how local nonprofit organizations (NPO) utilize social media to engage with their target audiences.
Taking notes from Heather Mansfield’s Social Media for Social Good: A How-to Guide for Nonprofits, I researched the social media best practices for NPOs. I then surveyed local PR practitioners about their NPO’s online habits both at an FPRA chapter meeting and via email. After organizing the responses, I found that certain practices were commonly overlooked, though they may be instrumental in building social significance. Using information I learned from local FPRA members while attending meetings, I created an infographic to share basic information and highlight some general areas that need improvement across the board (search engine optimization, for example).
Putting together my final project—titled Using #SocialMedia to Create a #SocialMovement—helped me gain knowledge of the industry (both at large and locally), allowed me to practice research techniques utilized in the field, and taught me how 140 small characters can incite huge change within our community. With the help of my professors—Pamela Nulman and Michael Kennedy—along with insight from FPRA members, I have a new excitement for public relations research and the nonprofit sector.

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