Belle Public Relations celebrates successful campaign with Connections for Life

By: Margaret Price

 

Greetings friends, family and followers,

It is a bittersweet moment for Belle Public Relations as our campaign officially came to a close this past weekend following the conclusion of our “Fashion for a Cause” fundraising event on Friday. We had approximately 100 people come out to support Connections for Life at the event, and with their help, we were able to raise $14,785! This number more than doubles the fundraising goal we had set for the event back in February and we could not be more grateful for the efforts and contributions of all involved.

For those of you that were unable to be with us at the event, the fashion show was the highlight of the night as models from all walks of life joined together on stage to raise money for Connections for Life. These models were not only friends and family of Belle Public Relations, but also Connections for Life residents and program graduates. It was heartwarming to see women once abused and immersed in drugs and alcohol walk across the stage as completely new women full of pride, strength and beauty. To further recognize the tremendous strength of the program residents, Air Blow Dry Bar and Poise ‘N Ivy helped the models look the part by donating hair and make up stylists as well as gorgeous outfits for the models to wear for the show.

After the show, models were able to join the rest of the guests for a special video presentation showcasing Connections for Life and its mission to empower women in the community. The video shown was an original Belle Public Relations production, created and edited by Clare Gleeson. The video captivated the audience and several hearts throughout the room as it incorporated testimonies from Connections for Life program participants, both past and present.

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Models pose together smiling after a successful fashion show. Photo taken by Connections for Life staff.

Hearing these stories really reinforced the reasons why Belle Public Relations has spent countless hours alongside Connections for Life over the past three months. To our group, this has been more than just a class project and an opportunity to practice all we have learned at LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication. This project has allowed us to engage in community efforts and become a part of something much bigger than ourselves. Together we have been able to apply concepts from previous mass communication courses, demonstrate civic engagement and social responsibility in the community and create professional communications all while maintaining a positive client relationship. We also learned how to work in a group, how to pick each other up and how to remain focused on our goal, which has always been raising awareness for the tremendous women of Connections for Life. As we now must say goodbye to the organization and its remarkable leader Karen Stagg, we look back on the work we were able to accomplish and smile, for we know we did exactly what we set out to do; we made a difference.

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Belle Public Relations (from left to right: Alexis Nicaud, Megan Gibbs Talley, Erin Boyd, Clare Gleeson, Allie Jarreau, Bren Calhoun, Margaret Price). Photo taken by Karen Stagg.

Margaret Price is a senior studying public relations at the LSU Manship School of Mass Communication. Check out her Facebook and Twitter.

Connections for Life Secures Models and Auction Items for “Fashion for a Cause”

By: Bren Calhoun

After a week-long spring break, Belle Public Relations hit the ground running to handle any and all last-minute details for “Fashion for a Cause.”  We knew that planning and executing a successful event in such a short period of time would be a challenging task, but we are very excited for the event this Friday and feel that it will not only be successful but also a lot of fun.  We confirmed our list of models this week, and we will have 14 women walking the runway.  The models will include women from the Connections for Life program as well as local women from the Baton Rouge community.  A dress rehearsal for the models will be held on Thursday to ensure that the event runs smoothly.

On Tuesday morning Connections for Life’s director, Karen Stagg, and our event director, Margaret Price, were featured on WBRZ’s “2une In” with John Pastorek to discuss “Fashion for a Cause.”  Having this feature on WBRZ was a great way for our agency and Connections for Life to get the word out to the Baton Rouge community before the event.  Establishing relationships with local media stations is very beneficial for nonprofit organizations like Connections for Life because nonprofits need strong roots in the local community in order to thrive.  Karen and Margaret did a great job on WBRZ and we hope we reached an even bigger audience to attend Fashion for a Cause that did not know about it previously.

Over the past few weeks, Karen and Belle Public Relations secured a number of very exciting items for the silent auction. A few of these items will be used as door prizes that “Fashion for a Cause” attendees will get the chance to win.  We found that even though we faced rejection at times, many businesses and organizations in the Baton Rouge community were more than happy to help and donate to a a great cause like Connections for Life.

Being a part of this campaign with Connections for Life has been such a valuable learning experience for me.  While it has been a fast-paced way of learning by doing, it has been an experience that I will never forget.  One of the learning objectives that we are expected to master after completing MC 4005 is strategic agility.  Strategic agility and thinking ahead have always been a weakness of mine, but after this campaign I have a much better outlook on ways to improve my strategic ability.  Participating in this campaign has also shown me that I need to improve at time management if I want to work in the public relations field.  These last few months have been a whirlwind experience, and our agency is thrilled to see all of our hard work pay off this Friday night at “Fashion for a Cause.”

Bren Calhoun is a senior studying public relations at the LSU Manship School of Mass Communication. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Connections for Life approaches businesses for auction items

By: Allie Jarreau

This Saturday, Belle Public Relations approached Baton Rouge businesses to gain items for the silent auction table. Connections for Life’s director, Karen Stagg, handled sponsorship donations, but also helped Belle PR with getting auction items. Our team broke up into three separate teams in order to maximize our options. From the beginning, we all knew this would be a hard task, but I am proud of the support we received. Before we contacted each business, our agency’s event director, Margaret Price, compiled an auction item GoogleDoc for the entire team. This document was used as a reference when approaching businesses, so each team didn’t pitch to the same business twice. This organization method was very effective while prospecting potential donors. Each team targeted specific shopping centers in Baton Rouge. Alexis Nicaud and I chose Towne Center because we knew many of the stores’ shoppers were women.

 

 

In MC 4005, students are expected to learn and use professional values and competencies. This includes “thinking critically, creatively and independently.” This is something I remembered before going into each store. It was important that we handled each meeting professionally, but we also used our creative minds to target each possible donor.

Before I met Alexis, I created ten folders with a flier, donor form and sponsorship package inside. On the way to Towne Center, Alexis and I decided who would say what and who would speak to each specific store. We were both pretty nervous at our first meeting, but we both left feeling confident because of how well everything went. After that, we felt like pros. It became fun picking out which businesses we would visit next, and we encountered something different at each store.

 

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Flier created by: Megan Gibbs

 

Although our team only secured two definite auction items, we met and talked with a lot of great sales associates. The main problem was not being able to talk to the store managers, but we made sure we left a packet and got their business cards. After each meeting, I would detail how the meeting went in the GoogleDoc so the other teams could see our progress. On Monday, Alexis and I emailed every store manager we did not speak to and sent them additional collateral.

One thing I have learned throughout this process is persistency. Alexis and I could have easily not followed-up or just dropped off our packets, but instead we asked questions and stayed in contact. It is okay to hear “no.” It’s important not to feel discouraged when you face rejection but instead, you should learn from it and move forward.

Allie Jarreau is a senior studying public relations at the LSU Manship School of Mass Communication. Check out her FacebookLinkedIn and Twitter.

Belle PR uses Technology to Connect for Life

By Megan Gibbs

Today’s world is overcome with technology. A simple walk down the street, dinner in a restaurant or shopping trip at the mall will prove this. Almost everyone has their cellphone glued to their hand. While almost 84 percent of people can’t go a single day without their mobile device, almost 75 percent of people ages 25-29 sleep with their phone. No matter how one may feel about today’s technological dependence, technology has helped us all in some way. For Belle Public Relations, it is an essential aspect to our everyday operation.

Because Belle PR consists of seven public relations pre-professionals, managing communication could easily be difficult. To combat this, we employ technological means to ensure we all stay working on the same page. Since we need to constantly communicate with one another to share ideas, approve client materials, finalize event plans and discuss tactics, we use GroupMe on our mobile devices so that we can all be contributors to the various conversations within our agency. This smartphone app does wonders for managing group communication. Moreover, because we are all working on various projects for the client or our agency, we must be able to easily share those files with one another for review. Instead of hassling with sending emails back and forth to the team, we use Dropbox to store all of our files in the cloud. This technology helps us share, store and see all of our important stuff. We can even have everything in the palms of our hands with the Dropbox smartphone app.

While technology helps us stay connected, it also helps us do our job. Because we strive to produce quality deliverables for our client, such as the event flier, tickets or donor form, we use technologically advanced computer programs, such as Adobe InDesign and Photoshop. Although these programs do have a learning curve, we believe the final products prove their worth. To help drive awareness about our nonprofit client, Connections for Life, and the fundraising event we are planning, Fashion for a Cause, we also rely on social media. Since social media is such a powerful tool in connecting people, creating conversations and building brand loyalty, this simply makes sense for us.

Technology is communication and results. In the public relations industry, these two things are of vital importance. When a client wants something, they want it now. When a crisis strikes, it won’t wait. To be able to respond quickly and deliver whatever is being asked relies on strong communication and trustworthy means. For Belle Public Relations, we rely on technology for our success.

Megan Gibbs is a senior studying public relations at the LSU Manship School of Mass Communication. Check out her website or connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Belle Public Relations and the glue that holds the agency together: Teamwork

This gallery contains 2 photos.

By Clare Gleeson If you ask a public relations practitioner what the No. 1 quality is of any employee, the most common answer is “teamwork” or “team player.” According to Forbes magazine, the ability to work in a team is the … Continue reading

Belle Public Relations conducts primary research for Connections For Life

By: Erin Boyd

A big part of our public relations campaign consists of conducting our own primary research for our client Connections For Life. Our class has finally gotten IRB approval, so Belle Public Relations is now able to distribute our surveys to our key audiences. We have decided to target three churches, Christ the King Catholic Church, St. Alban’s Episcopal Church and Healing Place Church, to conduct our research. Last week, Alexis Nicaud and I went to Christ the King on Louisiana State University’s campus to hand out our surveys. Every Thursday at noon, the church gives out free lunch to students. Our group agreed that this would be the ideal time to hand out surveys because it would give us more responses and a better representation of how the LSU community feels about Connections For Life.

When Alexis and I arrived at Christ the King, we were overwhelmed by how many students had turned out for lunch. We decided that the best way to get started would be to walk up to different tables of people eating lunch and politely ask them to take the survey for our class. We briefly explained what Connections For Life is and what it does for the Baton Rouge community. As an added incentive to take the survey, we also brought cookies for those who completed it. We were able to hand out all of our surveys and the majority of the surveys were returned by the end of our time there. It was a successful first outing for Belle Public Relations and we look forward to interacting with parishioners are at St. Alban’s and Healing Place.

When it comes to research, the importance of personally handing out surveys cannot be diminished because it gives the community an opportunity to voice their opinions about your client. According to an article by Snap Surveys, there are four main reasons to conduct research with surveys:

  • Uncover answers
  • Evoke discussion
  • Base decisions on objective information
  • Compare results

At the end of the semester after “Fashion For A Cause,” Belle Public Relations will administer the survey again to the same three churches. Our hope is that through the event, awareness of Connections For Life will have risen throughout the community and will be reflected in the survey results.

PR Campaigns is a service-learning class and going out into the community is at the core of the curriculum. By working with the public, we gain a greater knowledge of the community and reinforce what is taught in class with real world experience.

Erin Boyd is a senior studying public relations at LSU Manship School of Mass Communication. Connect with Erin on LinkedIn.

Midsemester reflection on professionalism and meaningful partnership with Connections for Life

By: Alexis Nicaud

Source: Belle Public Relations

Source: Belle Public Relations

We are now a little more than a month away from “Fashion for a Cause,” and Belle Public Relations has been working daily to produce a cohesive and organized event for Connections for Life. Just this week, we met with our client twice to establish goals, objectives, marketing tactics, budgets and a realistic timetable leading up to the show. These are just a few of the many, many tasks that are involved in the event planning stage, and it’s safe to say that it’s been a little difficult to think this far in advance.  However, these are the steps that must be taken in order to ensure a fun, organized and successful fashion show.

Aside from all of the strategic planning and event coordination that’s taken place, this semester has been an educational whirlwind. In the classroom, we’ve discussed the ins and outs of what it takes to become a motivated and successful public relations professional. Our lectures have focused on the significance of building trustworthy brands, networking in our local communities, problem solving within our organizations and sticking to deadlines in order to complete any and all tasks at hand. We have also delved deeper into the undeniable importance of professionalism in the workplace, and our class welcomes the fact that our campaign project addresses the competencies that employers look for in communication professionals:

  • Action orientation
  • Dealing with ambiguity
  • Creativity
  • Decision quality
  • Problem solving
  • Motivating others
  • Planning
  • Priority setting
  • Strategic agility/thinking ahead
  • Time management

Learning by observation is the best way to become skilled at any task, and Belle Public Relations can think of no better professional leader to emulate than our very own client contact and Connections for Life executive director, Karen Stagg.

From the start, Karen has been an ideal client to work with.  She is a passionate, responsive and devoted administrator who contributes her all to this organization.  Working side-by-side with Karen, we have seen how committed she is to this nonprofit, and it is clear that she is a dedicated and hands-on director.  Because Karen has established personal relationships with many of the Connections for Life women, she has been able to provide us with some incredible insight into not only the struggles that these women face on a daily basis, but also the strides and accomplishments they make with the help from the program.  With that being said, she is also more than willing to step back from her personal involvement to carefully examine and address the problems that the organization faces.  She openly discusses any and all weaknesses that the nonprofit struggles with and is direct in her approaches to fix these ongoing flaws.  Overall, Karen works with integrity and determination to do what is best and most beneficial for Connections for Life.

Through our one-on-one encounters with Karen, we have learned how crucial professionalism is in a real world setting. Belle Public Relations faces a unique task of working closely with Karen to integrate all of the skills we have learned in the classroom to fully represent the nonprofit to the best of our ability. Teaming up with Connections for Life and seeing the impact of our labor is what makes this service-learning course worth it in the end.

Alexis Nicaud is a senior studying public relations at LSU Manship School of Mass Communication. Connect with Alexis on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Belle Public Relations moves forward with Fashion for a Cause

By: Bren Calhoun

Since our last post, Belle Public Relations finalized our campaign research report draft and made strides with the organization and planning of our fundraising event. We recently sat down with Karen Stagg from Connections for Life to begin the initial steps toward making the fashion show a success. We now have a list of goals to complete before our next meeting, and we are already very pleased with the progression of our planning stage.

After some brainstorming, we all decided to name the event, “Fashion for a Cause.” While the event goal is mainly to raise money and increase awareness for Connections for Life, we also want it to be a fun and memorable evening for those who attend and participate. Considering that some of the women from the program will be walking as models in the show, this will be a great opportunity to showcase a sense of community between these women and the rest of Baton Rouge.

One of our first tasks as a PR agency is to create marketing deliverables for potential sponsors and donors for the fashion show. Creating a press release, fliers, brochures and other items will make potential sponsors and donors feel more comfortable about contributing to this event. Another task that we will be tackling this week is to create an event page on the Connections for Life Facebook page.  This will allow us to invite colleagues and friends to the event via social media. Because the show is only two months away, our team wants to start advertising as soon as possible.

Our agency also began the primary research process of our campaign for Connections for Life.  After much discussion, we came to the conclusion that an online survey would be the best way to gain any additional information that we are trying to obtain. Increasing awareness and donations are Belle Public Relations’ main goals for this campaign, so the use of a survey will help us gauge levels of awareness in the community. Once this is determined, we can then decide on the different strategies and tactics to use in order to gain donations. This survey will be distributed to our target audience of Baton Rouge churches, and we have narrowed the survey to three local establishments: Healing Place Church, Christ the King Catholic Church and St. Alban’s Episcopal Church. We are hopeful that this audience will provide us with some informative data that will assist in the creation of a great event.

Belle Public Relations is thrilled to continue working with Connections for Life, and we look forward to “Fashion for a Cause” in April.

Bren Calhoun is a senior studying public relations at the LSU Manship School of Mass Communication. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Belle Public Relations discusses future event with Connections for Life

By Allie Jarreau

Belle Public Relations recently sat down with Karen Stagg from Connections for Life to discuss fundraising event ideas. In the past, the local nonprofit hosted a golf tournament, but Karen explained it was time for something new and fresh. Our agency brainstormed ways to create an event focused more on the women of the program. After much thought, both organizations agreed that a fashion show for a cause would be perfect.

At this fashion show, guests will not see the typical, size zero model as the Connections for Life women will be the ones strutting their stuff down the runway. Belle PR wanted to create something that would empower the women, but also allow the community to interact with them. We understand that most people in our community might not know what Connections for Life does, so Karen is going to ask a woman in the program to give her testimony at the show.

As a PR agency, our role is to generate ticket sales, secure sponsors and advertisers, create public awareness, encourage media to attend and plan the overall event. Since we are in the beginning stages, our team is focusing on the goals and objectives. At our meeting, we discussed creating email blasts, social media pages, brochures and other creative deliverables that will get our target audience interested in the event. Our target audience is Baton Rouge churches, parents, boutiques and sororities. We will also contact Baton Rouge print, broadcasting and radio companies in order to reach a larger audience.

Because one of our main concerns is raising money, Karen suggested the idea of a silent auction. We will have numerous tables lined up with different items such as art, jewelry, spa packages and more. Our agency wants the night to be trendy and fun, so we plan to have live music, a photographer, food, nonalcoholic drinks and a business casual dress code.

Because boutique fashion is so popular in Baton Rouge, we are going to ask local fashion stores to sponsor or donate clothes for the models to wear. This will not only give the women confidence, but also get local businesses involved in a great cause.

Even though we only have two short months to plan, Belle PR is confident that the show will be a success. Once we secure a venue, date and name for the event, our team will hit the ground running. The event will be free and open to the public. If you would like to volunteer or learn more about the show, please email Margaret Price at mpric23@lsu.edu.

Allie Jarreau is a senior studying public relations at the LSU Manship School of Mass Communication. Check out her Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.