An LSU senior's year of service learning, SCVNGR, AP quizzes, and media releases

PR Lesson 101: Why it is important for our PR group to be professional and ethical during our SVNGR service-learning event for Bywater CDC

My mom has always had a special sticky note above her sink. It reads,

“Doing what is right isn’t always easy, but it is always right.”

It really defines ethics. Weather in a profession or just life in general. She has been telling me this since I was a young girl. This saying, though short and simple, has made a big impact on my life. As a child, when I would think of doing something sneaky, this saying came into my head. Even in my college years, weather pertaining to work or school, I still hear my mom telling me this. Her morals and this saying have truly shaped me and solidified my ethical ways.


Photo credit to the Zachary Dept. of Engineering

Being ethical seems like it would be easy, and just doing what is right from wrong. I think there is more to ethical behavior than that. Professor Freeman, in my media ethics class last semester, showed me that sometimes what is ethical, does not always seem right. He would always open up the floor for discussions and debates to duke out the “best” answer. I learned through this that a lot of things go into being ethical in mass communication professions. It can deal with legalities, culture or social norms. It is sometimes hard to pin point what is exactly ethical. It sometimes can take a lot of discernment. What I have learned though is that even if it takes a long time to figure out, it is always safe to be ethical. This is very important to remember in the PR world!


Photo credit to the Institution for Ethics and Emerging Technologies

The three words above sum up ethics perfectly. Without these three different, but important, qualities an ethical decision cannot be met. Which leads me into my next topic, professionalism.


If you have ever seen the show, The Office, you know that Michael Scott is the exact opposite of a professional. Although he is entertaining, some of the things he does makes you cringe. I think to myself, “Can a professional really act like that?” He snoops in everyone’s business, talks about inappropriate things to clients and co-workers, and never focuses on the task at hand. He has basically taught me how to be a professional by all of the things he does wrong. Being a professional is the key to success in my book.

I was the account liaison for our service learning project with Bywater CDC, and professionalism was important from day one. I needed to sound intelligent and prepared in my emails and phone calls to our contact. I wanted to show her that she was getting the best, which is what BR PR has strived for since day one. I think that throughout our project we were professional, even when times were hard. It would have been easy to pitch a fit or to give up, but since we are professionals, we trudged through the hard times and made a positive impression on our clients.

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

Also check out Bywater CDC’s Facebook.


Course learning outcomes, service-learning and professional proficiencies: BR PR’s work with Bywater CDC and SCVNGR


The picture above explains it all, “we are all in this together”. This is exactly what our service learning course has taught me. I learned the importance of having in a well-rounded group. I truly learned that every member is just as important as the other and that everyone must put forth the same effort. As mentioned in past blogs, BR PR’s client was Bywater Community Development Corporation. We had to work as a group to meet all of our goals toward our SCVNGR event during St. Claude Open Studios. I feel very fortunate to have been in a group with Leigh Fairey, Samantha Rebowe, Jayme Tumminello and Rachael Stanton. Please follow them on Facebook, as well!

Professionalism, what exactly does that mean? According to, being a professional means to be engaged, connected and appropriate to the occupation. I believe this is a great definition. Professionalism is not just about wearing the best clothes, or having the best letter head, or having the best business. It really is about the person’s character,how they carry themselves and how they interact with others. Would you rather work with a big corporation who was rude or never followed up, or a company that was smaller, but more professional? I would choose the latter. I have seen throughout our work that professionalism goes a long way. Also, it does not matter how old you are, you must always act like a professional.

Not acting appropriate in a work setting can have negative effects. People will not want to work for you, nor want to be your client. It also doesn’t matter if you are in Lafayette or New York. Word travels fast and your reputation follows you wherever you go. My best advice is to always act like a professional, even when things are tough. You never know when that one time you didn’t act like your best self will haunt you or your company.

 — Enjoy my little rant about professionalism.

I have really gotten a lot out of the course, I tell my family all the time that I feel like I learned more in this class than all of my classes! Although it was challenging at times, this class has prepared me for the real world. It has taught me a lot about time management, professionalism, group projects, AP style and everything else public relations. I feel very confident going into my last semester and my campaigns class! Without Dr. Moore’s MC 4001 class, I would not feel as confident as I do now!

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook and instagram @ thirsti_o

Check out Bywater’s Facebook page, too!

Welcome to the PR world: Our SCVNGR service-learning experience for Bywater CDC

Everyone always says, “ Once you graduate, you enter the real world.” I completely agree with this statement, but BR PRessworks is fortunate enough to have already had a glimpse of this world. Our work with Bywater CDC has given us first hand experience with an actual client. Not only working with an actual client, but also putting on our SCVNGR event.


Our client is even more unique because we worked directly with Cindy Denney of High Hat Management. She was hired as Bywater CDC’s public relations consultant. She worked with us on planning, promoting and being the liaison between BR PR and Bywater CDC. Since I was the account liaison, I spoke quite often with Denney. She has worked in every facet of PR, from celebrities, to crisis management, to alcohol products. She was a great role model to BR PR and offered many “PR life lessons”. I think my favorite thing Cindy talked to us about was her time as the Spice Girls PR rep. The 10 year old in me died, I will always be obsessed with the Spice Girls!


Photo credit to

Enough about the Spice Girls, I could go on all day.

Our event was held November 10, 2012 from 12p.m.-6p.m. at the Open Studios on St. Claude in New Orleans, La. Our treks and challenges were finalized through a collective effort from BR PRessworks. Every checkpoint was a registered art location. We planned so that every completed challenge, a participant would receive points. This resulted in one winner.

Photo Credit: Michael Martin

BR Pressworks has learned a lot through this service learning experience. Some things we learned the hard way. Our group has always said is that, ”PR is a full time job”. It is unlike others that are 9-5. It is constant, around the clock. One never knows when a crisis will happen or when thinking on your feet is a must. It is a fast paced, real time field. There is no, “I’ll get back with you”, it has to be present and done right then most of the time. If not, it will get forgotten about or lost in translation. It is also important to have a good dynamic with your group (BR PR was fortunate to have this). Communication must be clear in order for everything internally in the group to work. If communication is not clear internally, how will it be carried out externally? This is something I often thought about, but didn’t realize until I was working in a group for a client. We also learned that even though technology makes life easier, when you are in a different city it could be a source for problems. This was probably BR PR’s biggest struggle through our SCVNGR service-learning project. Luckily, our client was willing to come in often, but we know not everyone gets lucky like this.

My view of PR has not changed; it has just expanded with more knowledge. I believe every Manship School of  mass communication student at LSU should experience a service learning class. If students aren’t interning, and they don’t have a service-learning opportunity, how will they be prepared for the real world?

I feel very fortunate to have had this experience and BR PR is grateful for Dr. Moore’s class and for the SCVNGR grant. I feel more prepared for my life after graduation!

To learn more, visit Bywater’s facebook page and twitter account. Also check out St. Claude and High Hat Management on facebook.

Follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @thirsti_o

A tale of how social media & technology have changed social norms and benefitted Bywater CDC

Photo credit to:

About 5 years ago, if you were typing on your phone in class or at a public event, you were getting glared at. This would be deemed as rude, impolite and uninterested. I will never forget my mother shouting the words, “how rude”. As a traditional woman, she still feels this way. Aside from my mother, who still asks me how to send an email, times have changed tremendously. Social media and the technology used has completely changed social norms, in the most drastic way possible. It has become one of the most important things in everyday life to many people. These people do not only include teenage girls anymore. Social media has outburst in the professional world. It is at its peak and is used for communication, marketing, public relations and sales. It has completely revolutionized this generation, and the way business is conducted.

Social media is not just Facebook anymore; it’s Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and  Four Square (just to name a few). These social mediums have increased in popularity tremendously over the last few years. As mentioned before, it is not just for young girls, or teenagers. The business and professional world now see this as one of its most important aspects.

I’ll admit, I am one of those people who jumped on the bandwagon late. I was the last of my friends to join Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I am extremely stubborn and I guess it took me a while to see the importance in it. Once I realized, my life was changed! It not only makes things easier, but it is the best way to stay connected to people socially or professionally. I still stay in touch with my boss from my internship this summer and our main line of communication is through Facebook messaging. My best friend is also studying abroad this semester, and we Instagram each other pictures daily. It is the best way to keep close ties. I honestly cannot imagine life with out our easily accessible social mediums.

Photo credit to:

The reason this new generation of social media is so convenient is because of one word, smartphones. These devices have completely revolutionized our daily lives. Whether you have an Iphone, or a Droid, you are constantly using social media. These phones put everything at your finger tips. Pretty much anything you could do with a computer, you can now do on a phone. This makes life easier in some instances, but it also takes away from personal interaction between people now. People are becoming comfortable with not being face to face, which is a negative effect of this social media boom.

Many things recently have happened, that truly made me realize how times have changed because of social media. At my internship this summer for William Morris Endeavor Entertainment in Beverly Hills, Calif., we had an all company meeting with hundreds of people. During the meeting, they played funny videos made by different departments and had influential speakers. While all of this was going on, people were not looking at the speakers, they were tweeting! A long time ago this would have been rude, but now, it is completely acceptable.

Another example is at my PRSSA meetings. When speakers come, we tweet during the whole session. This is called live tweeting. I also do this for my PR case studies class. We live tweet for groups presentations on case studies. I think my PR, my major, has turned into majoring in social media!

As part of our work with Bywater Community Development Corporation, social media is going to be a big part of our promotion. Their target audience mostly uses Facebook, so that will be our main medium. After we met with our contact Cindy Denney, we realized a Facebook event page would be the perfect outlet for our SCVNGR event. We will be able to reach more people in an efficient way.

Where would Bywater CDC be without social media? They would not have been able to promote their events like Mirliton Festival, Fringe Festival, St. Claude Arts District and Novac. Although social media has been the main promotional tool for the Bywater area, I believe we can do even more. This would mean adding more social mediums, rather than just Facebook. The SCVNGR event and application will be a great tool to get people involved.

Find me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, and look me up on Instagram @thirsti_o for updates!

Also visit High Hat Management for more information on Bywater CDC.

A PR look into Bywater CDC’s stewardship, civic engagement and social responsibility

Just like a real life situation, BR PR’s client has changed from North Rampart Main Street to Bywater Community Development Corporation. Although we were very eager to work with North Rampart, we are ecstatic to be working with Bywater CDC! They are a very young, fresh, hip, and “artsy” organization. This organization fights to preserve the history and tradition of the Bywater neighborhood. They hold events in the Bywater area like Mirliton FefstivalPhotoNOLA, and Chaz Fest just to name a few. They even hold parades, art walks and partner with St. Claude Arts District where they provide venues.

Mission Statement

“The mission of the Bywater Community Development Corporation is to promote the safety and well being of all New Orleans’ Bywater residents by nurturing a sense of community through strong support for the arts, commerce, home ownership, and education.”

Bywater Community Development Corporation has many duties to the Bywater neighborhood and the city of New Orleans. One is to bring residents to the area to participate in events. They also want to see history and tradition continued. Their final duty is to fight for preservation of this area.

This organization is a great example of civic engagement in action. All of the festivals and events that are put on are done with purpose. It is to bring the community together on a different level. These events strive to give the community a sense of family, while keeping history at the forefront. One small thing the organization does is post old pictures of the neighborhood. This shows how things have changed and how they have not. Although they want to preserve tradition, they do this in a fun, relatable and modern way. Social media is a main factor, and it helps them get the word out more than any other medium.

This is a video of the Bywater Fringe Festival from 2010


As for BR PR, we want to aid the Bywater Community Development Corporation and the Bywater Neighborhood Association. These two organizations go hand in hand; they have the same goals and objectives. We hope that our SCVNGR event will help the organizations with their plans of stewardship, civic engagement and social responsibility.

Visit Bywater Community Development Corporation’s Facebook page, and Bywater Neighborhood Association’s Facebook page. Please share and like with your friends!

Follow Bywater Neighborhood Association on twitter! You can also follow my twitter account, Kirsti Ortego.

Visit North Rampart Main Street in New Orleans!

As part of my MC 4001 Public Relations Writing class at LSU, my team and I have been partnered with North Rampart Main Street in New Orleans, La. This is such an exciting time because we will get hands on experience with a real organization and an event! North Rampart Main Street is a historical street between Canal and Esplanade. After Hurricane Katrina, the street fell deserted. Shops, bars, and businesses either closed down or were never visited. Now, North Rampart Main Street Inc. wants to make their historical area prosperous again.

This is where the team I am apart of comes in. We call ourselves, BR PRessworks. This team is made up of myself, the account liaison, two strategy directors; Samantha Rebowe and Jayme Tumminello, design director; Leigh Fairey, and writing director; Rachael Stanton. Our team is diverse, creative and we have a great dynamic. Although we all have our specific duties, everyone puts forth help. It is the true definition of a group effort.

We have been fortunate enough to partner with SCVNGR, an online interactive application for our event! It will be much like a scavenger hunt, but keeping track of it through “treks” on the application. For instance, one of the treks will be to take a picture on the second floor of Mary’s Ace Hardware shop. Another will be to take a picture inside Brad Pitt’s favorite bar, Tonique!  Then my personal favorite, to pretend to play a saxophone in the famous Armstrong Park! It’s a fun and interactive way to get the community to come back to North Rampart. Our goal through this event is to encourage people to return to the street for entertainment or shopping needs. This street has so much historical depth; it would be a shame for it to not get the attention it deserves!

The event will be held Saturday, Oct. 20, 2012 around 6 o’clock p.m. We will start first with a sign up table at the North Rampart Main Street Inc. office. This is where players will pay the fee to play and the money will go towards the after party.

There will be two winners; the team with the most creative pictures and the team to complete the most tasks. Prizes for the winners are still being discussed. The night will end with a roof top party on North Rampart Main Street and a local band will entertain guests.

We are so excited to be working with such a great organization and we hope there is a big turn out for this unique event!

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