Brand Yourself

Brand Yourself is a website that helps you to control and find out what comes up when others search your name. You can then go through and verify if the items that come up about you are “positive”, “negative” or “not me.” After verifying your first ten search terms that come up you get to view your score:screen-shot-2017-01-31-at-6-03-30-pm

VerStrate S, (February 2, 2017) Brand Yourself Report Card Screenshot (JPEG) Retrieved from

There was actually a lot of results that came up about me that I didn’t even know existed and was pretty pleased about, items like being on the Deans list and my Varsity tennis results. There are a couple of items that I was confused that they were marked as harmful. A lot of the results were not me but other Shelby’s or other VerStrate’s in my area which I thought was interesting to see. There was really nothing that came up that I found could hurt me to get a job which I found was really reassuring to know. I thought overall it was really helpful to know this information about yourself, and I think it will be especially useful when I apply to a job or internship and I can keep checking up on it to make sure everything that comes up about me is valid and positive.

After learning my score it then provides you with ways to improve that score and to pretty much better your brand on all social media sites. The 3 recommendations that I went through and did was: Boost your LinkedIn, Submit another link to the web and publish a brand yourself profile. I thought boosting my LinkedIn website was really helpful, because I am pretty new to LinkedIn and I was sure what qualified as a good profile so it made a lot of recommendations for me to do. I then went on and posted my LinkedIn link to the web so hopefully it will be one of the first items that comes up when possible employers are searching me. I also posted Brand Yourself to my Twitter. I thought this website was very helpful and it made me aware of things that I wouldn’t have thought to do.


About Me




my name is Shelby VerStrate and I am a Junior at Grand Valley and I am majoring in Graphic Design and minoring in Advertisement and Public Relations. I am apart of the AIGA club at GVSU which I’m hoping can help me to find more intern opportunities and learn new skills from other students in the field. My dream job would to work for a magazine and design layouts for them.
My biggest gofullsizerenderal in the future is to own a French Bulldog, along with many other dogs. I also have a huge interest in making jewelry with metals, I would love to do that as a side job in the future. I would also like to get a job somewhere far away from Michigan so I don’t have to experience these harsh winters anymore. I would like to do a lot of traveling to figure out where that destination will be.


PR Reflection:

This was the first class that I had taken that had anything to do with public relations, which was pretty scary when stepping into this class. I really didn’t understand what a PR person did besides from what I saw on TV which is pretty sad. When I read my first blog post I realized that I thought that PR people just handled scandals that celebrities caused and pretty much fixed mess ups that people caused. This is partially true, but I now realize that there is a lot more to PR than just handling problems. I also didn’t realize how much work it is to be a PR person. However, I did have some of the ideas about PR right when I mentioned “this can also be a very rewarding career when you promote the image of an aspiring small business or help the image of a good person” which I think would be true in the PR field.

Now I have realized that PR isn’t about just making a call and fixing a big scandal. PR involves strategic advertisements, research, communication and lots and lots of writing. I have really grown to like it which is something I did not think I would be saying at the beginning of this semester and it has helped me to become a better writing and researcher which will help me tremendously in my graphic design career where research is a huge part in it. I have also loved using doing thing that would be used in the real PR world like these blog posts rather than writing research papers, it is a great way to get introduced to the PR world.

Another reason why stepping into this classroom was a little intimidating was because of the plan book. Reading the rubric on the plan book made me question if I signed up for the right class. It was pretty much scary just to look at the plan book and I tried not to stare at it as much as possible because of how much information was in it. However, after breaking down the plan book step-by-step it really made it a lot simpler and made the big picture more to the point. It also helped when we turned in each paper and at the end it pretty much turned into a plan book. I can now look back at my plan book and be proud of all the work that I put in it, I never thought this day would ever come!

This class has done a great job of making me see what working in the PR field would really be like which kind of makes me happy that graphic design is my major. However, the skills I learned in PR will be very helpful for me in the future and will help me with the promotional aspects of graphic design. This especially goes for the research aspects that is included in public relations because in graphic design research is a vital aspect when researching the client. Overall, I am very happy with how this class went and all the real world lessons that it taught me.

ROI/Evaluation Blog

Return on investment is to “measure the distribution and acceptance of messages and demonstrate a return on investment (ROI) to clients”(Watson,2013, p.2). ROI is something that can be difficult to figure out when it comes to public relations because it can often times be hard to say whether the audience purchases something because of PR, since PR a lot of times is through word of mouth, which is a communication method that can be difficult to measure. Watson says, “In reality few PR programmes can be measured in such a way because of the problems involved in putting a realistic and credible financial value to the results achieved”(2013, p.3).

For companies and clients, having employees that are exceptional PR people is a necessity to stand out amongst the rest. However, sometimes these PR efforts have to come to a halt or they may need to fire their agencies when there is not a sufficient ROI (return on investment) (Burke,2015, paragraph 1). This can result in public relations people to be less successful in getting the message out to a potential audience as well as they may have hoped. However, to improve a business’s ROI a company must choose appropriate tactics that are right for the type of business the client owns, and by choosing different strategies the business will really start seeing improvement in their return on investment (Burke,2015, paragraph 6).

Public relations and ROI go hand-in-hand because it is through PR people that we do what we do and buy what we buy, it isn’t because of looking at advertising commercials on the television but rather through word of mouth. PR strategist and blogger for The Huffington Post, Molly Borchers says, “Brands are built on what people are saying about you, not what you’re saying about yourself. People say good things about you when (a) you have a great product and (b) you get people to spread the word about it”(2014, paragraph 3).

Return on investment is a factor in PR that can become difficult to really measure, to help better the understanding of this, Borchers lists what experts have said are their best practices on PR measurement (2014).

In the beginning, ask “Why?”: Shonali Burke says, “Ultimately, your PR efforts should support your business objectives, so don’t stop asking, “Why?” until you get there.”

Agree on measurement goals upfront: Shonali says, “her biggest challenge in measuring the ROI in PR is that some companies sometimes think of measurement as an afterthought.”

Don’t just analyze outputs: Aaron Brown says, “This approach requires analysis against key competitors within target strategic areas in a defined set of media.”

Break down the silos: Deirdre Breakenridge said,”When you break down the silos you can show a more accurate picture of ROI.”

Use social media for a two-way dialogue: Jennifer Dulles says, “When brands need to measure sentiment or gauge whether opinions changed, they can simply ask.”

Give it time: “Julie Wright said the best measurement tool she ever had was a line out the door at her client’s store after an article hit on their product.”

The above expert advice can help to measure the ROI in relations to PR in ways that are simple, efficient and to the point. It can sometimes be a very difficult task but when done right, it will be worth the time and effort.




Borchers, M. (2014, March 26). Measuring the ROI of Public Relations: Five Experts Weigh In. In The Huffington Post. Retrieved November 24, 2015, from

Burke, L. (2015, June 30). Is Your PR Campaign Resulting in the ROI You’re Looking For?. In Did It. Retrieved November 23, 2015, from

Watson, T. (2013, March 7). ROI or evidence-based PR: The language of public relations evaluation. PRism, 3(1). Retrieved November 23, 2015, from

PR and Social Media

Public relations and social media really go together hand-in-hand, and it allows companies to instantly connect to their audience. Social media has made connecting to an audience faster than ever before.

Social media has really played a huge role in changing the way that people see and understand public relations. Public relations is all about communicating to a target audience, and with social media, communicating to them has really never been easier and more convenient. In the past PR people would have to always find ways to interact with their audience that would usually have to be face to face but with social media it can all be through a companies website. In a blog written by Dave Folkens, on ways that social media is changing public relations says, “Human connections made possible by listening and replying via social media bring the audience closer to a brand and softens the barrier that exists when people feel as if they’re talking to a company that views them strictly as a potential sale”(N.D, para. 3).

Social media can also help to promote political figures and can help them to be seen as more relatable and easier to connect with when they are seen on social media outlets as well. This can also help for these figures to connect with their younger viewers in ways that weren’t possible in the past. Political figures have used social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook and Youtube, plus its own blog powered website that is run by the White House (Warren, 2010).

Companies are trying to find new ways to communicate with their target audience, rather then just having a website. They would like to have long term relationships with their costumers rather than a once-off sale relationship (Papasolomou, 2012). Currently, it is almost impossible to have a successful company when it’s only form of social media is a website, these companies need to go above and beyond when connecting to a potential audience for them to standout amongst the rest. When there is a creative person on the public relations team, it is now more possible to constantly share that with an audience through rapid fast social media. Papasolomou talks about how using social media in public relations can help the audience and the client to connect and states,

“Social media creates an environment that encourages a two-way conversation that corporations can capitalize on it in a way that can benefit their business and their customers” (2012, p. 325).

Overall, social media is a fantastic way to connect the audience in a way that is authentic and personal. People can now share how they feel about a client or company and that client or company can instantly respond to that or make changes from the audiences feedback.


Folkens, D. (n.d.). 3 Ways Social Media Is Changing Public Relations. In Top Rank Blog. Retrieved November 9, 2015, from

Papasolomou, I., & Melanthiou, Y. (2012). Social Media: Marketing Public Relations’ New Best Friend. Journal Of Promotion Management, 18(3), 319-328. doi:10.1080/10496491.2012.696458

Warren, C. (2010, March 16). How PR Pros Are Using Social Media for Real Results. In Mashable. Retrieved November 9, 2015, from

Social Media and Public Relations

Social media is an outlet that is constantly changing, and in public relations, they must keep up with these social media changes when communicating to the media. Social media is also one of the greatest ways for people in PR to communicate to a mass audience in a quick and accurate way. They are also able to target one particular audience, for example if they want to target children, they could put an advertisement in the APP of a child’s game. There are a majority of ways to communicate through social media which is why it’s such a popular source for PR people to use to communicate to people.

Social media continues to change and therefor public relations has to change along with it. In a book called Social Media and Public Relations written by Breakenridge, he expands on the idea of how social media is such a huge part of public relations and said, “Public relations will continue to transform, and the changes you see are monumental. For better or for worse, a career in PR means handling communications in the public spotlight because of the increasing use of social media”(2012, p.1). People in the PR field must therefor conduct research to keep up with the ever-changing social media and it also benefits if they are tech-savy so they can better communicate to their target audience.

In a book written by Brian Solis and Deirdre Breakenridge is about how social media is reinventing public relations. This is because of how social networks are booming and putting social outlets like the newspaper out of business. Nothing else can communicate to a mass audience as fast as social media can. Solis and Breakenridge talk about how PR firms are always looking for experts in this area of communication, they said, “These highly sought-after New Media PR practitioners include those who blog, run a podcast or video show, communicate in popular micro-media networks such as Twitter, create profiles across several social networks and actively cultivate their social graph, customize pages with an understanding of “lite” HTML, and participate in the communities that are important to them (whether professionally or personally)”(2009, p. 2). With social media constantly changing, this means people in the public relations field need to change how they think or even hire people that have better experience with the examples listed because social media is changing before their eyes.

Public relations and social media are almost the same thing except social media is used online and public relations isn’t always used online. In a blog post written by Falls he talks about the important of social media on public relations and says, “To be effective in social media, whether as a marketer or just an ordinary participant, you must, first and foremost, communicate well”(2008, 3). This blog really focuses on how social media and public relations depends on one another.

PR and social media really go hand-in-hand, and communication to a particular audience usually isn’t successful without the other. By social media being one of the greatest communication tools, it is imperative for public relations specialists are comfortable with using social media to deliver a message to people.


Breakenridge, D. K. (2012). Social Media and Public Relations (p. 1). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education Inc. Retrieved from

Falls, J. (2008, July 18). Social Media is the Responsibility of Public Relations. In Social Media Explorer. Retrieved November 2, 2015, from

Solis, B., & Breakenridge, D. K. (2009). Putting the Public Back in Public Relations: How Social Media is Reinventing the Aging Business of PR (p. 2). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education Inc. Retrieved from

A PR Crisis: Hillary Clinton Email Controversy

When working in the public relations field, I think handling a crisis is one of the key attributes to being successful at your job. Being able to handle a media crisis is something that one must know will probably happen when starting a public relations job, and I think the key to handling a crisis is to stay calm, cool and collected. In a book about public relations issues and crisis management it talks about how to cope with a crisis and says, “Practitioners should therefore ‘operate as an organization’s “antenna”, constantly scanning the organization’s environment and alerting management to new threats and opportunities, and helping frame appropriate responses to emerging issues.'”(Galloway, 2005, 10) This is basically saying that public relations should always be alert and searching for new problems that could occur to their clients and should always brainstorm appropriate ways to handle the crisis. However, this is not the way the public relations people handled the Hillary Clinton’s Email crisis.

In a post written by David E. Johnson he talks about the crisis explaining that, “the media has been saturated with stories of how Hillary Clinton used a private email and server when she was Secretary of State thus avoiding freedom of information requests.”(2015, 2) The media has made this a huge story, big enough that when people think of Hillary Clinton often times they will think of this email scandal. Johnson says that this scandal makes her appear a lot like Richard Nixon and really takes away the publics trust of her. (2015) I think that her public relations team could have really helped by making the media not make this such a huge scandal, and they could have also gone with a different tactic when answering questions regarding the scandal in interviews, she pretty much avoided answering questions involving the scandal which made her seem like an even bigger liar. Johnson thought a better way to deal with the scandal was to show, “emotion and acknowledge that while it was legal there are valid reasons why people are suspicious and she understands that in this age of distrust of government.” (2015, 5) Trust is the biggest way to gain the respect of the public, which is a huge reason why Donald Trump is ahead of her in the polls.

Usually interviews make the public respect you for answering allegations with truthful answers but this can also have the opposite affect, especially when you are not truthful and a terrible liar. This occurred in a recent interview of Hillary Clinton where she appeared very transparent in the interview, avoiding almost every question that the journalists were asking her. Her public relations team had obviously not prepared her well enough for these questions, even though she had five months to prepare for these questions, she still appeared very transparent and made the matters worse. (Phillips, 2015)

If I was apart of her public relations team I would first choose our key messages to address, so I think she should first address that she made a mistake and be very honest with the public to gain their trust back. I would then decide on the overarching objectives, which would be gaining the publics trust back so she doesn’t look like every other lying political figure. I would then choose the target audience to focus on and the types of communication to get her message across. By doing these tactics she would’ve been better prepared in interviews so she didn’t appear to be a liar, I think her PR team went with the denial tactic which made her look even worse than she did before the interview. Gaining the publics trust is the greatest way to get the public votes and with the way her PR team is dealing with the crisis as of now, it doesn’t look good and they should’ve been more prepared for something like this to happen.

Galloway, Christopher. & Kwansah-Aidoo, Kwamena. (2005). Public relations issues and crisis management. Southbank, Vic : Thomson Social Science Press

Johnson, D. E. (2015, March 10). Hillary Clinton Email Controversy: Crisis Management Tips. In Retrieved from <;.

Phillips, B. (2015, September 2). The worst media disaster of August 2015. In Ragan’s PR Daily. Retrieved from

Why is Research Important in Public Relations?

When I think of Public Relations, my initial thought doesn’t instantly shoot to research, I always thought this was a minor part in this field. After day one of class I realized that I was very wrong. Research is a way to help you understand what audience your client is trying to reach and to gain a better understanding of them. It can also help you to gain trust with the client as well, showing that you know the audience well and that you always have a reason for promoting with a certain tactic, or for example, choosing one advertising agency over the other because you know one will appeal more to women than men.

In order to become successful in the public relations field I believe you must gain trust from clients, the public and from other people you work with. I think gaining the trust of others is important in every field but especially in public relations. One of the ways that people can gain trust is by doing research on the clients and their views on certain components that are important to your campaign. In a newsletter written by Michelle Hinson she talks about how trust and research effect public relations, she said, “Trust and ethics are both business currencies. Being ethical or having ethics can help build trust. Trust, in turn, can help build an ethical foundation”(2014,12). Being trusted in the field can help lead you to be seen as an ethical public relations person which I think this would be the key to landing jobs and clients in this career. Having done your research will show clients that you know your stuff and will in-turn gain your clients trust.

C.V. Narasimha Reddi informs us in the book Effective Public Relations and Media Strategy, “Research is the first step in public relations process to elicit the public opinion and their reactions towards organisational goals and programmes. Research is also called the listening phase of public relations”(2014, 137). This is saying that research happens before developing the final product, it is when we hear what the public is saying or doing. Some tools that Reddi listed to listen to the public include: personal contacts, interviews, advisory committees, the call-in telephone line, media monitoring, etc. I believe that research can be one of the most important aspects of public relations because you are hearing what the public thinks and feels about certain ideas and by listening to the public you can then avoid campaigns that may be seen negatively toward your target audience. For example some stores may be seen negatively with obvious Photoshop body rendering, so some stores like Aerie have made it known that they use REAL women instead of giving women unrealistic body standards. This can be a way to help women relate to your store by having women in the advertising that actually look like real women.

In a blog post written by Elena she says that “Decisions you make on your PR campaign needs to be based on data and not plain instinct or “a hunch.” Where data is available, use it to better understand your market and competition”(n.d, 10). She then gives examples on how researching can help you to become better in public relations. One example she gave was if you saw an increase in social media activity when you released your news. Knowing the data about certain results can help to improve yourself in PR and you can then change what you have done wrong by researching your results after putting out a campaign.

In conclusion, without research you would not know anything about the audience that your client is trying to target, and you couldn’t produce any strategy’s to promote the client. Research plays a huge role in public relations, it allows you to be known as a reliable source which is the basis of the media’s and client’s trust. Having the trust of the client and the media is imperative in public relations.

Elena. 5 Elements of Strategic Public Relations (n.d.). In PR in your Pajamas. Retrieved from

Hinson, M. Trust Me, I’m Ethical! The Relationship Between Trust, Ethics, and Measurement. the Measurement Standard, 1-2. Retrieved from

REDDI, C. N. (2014). Effective Public Relations and Media Strategy (Second ed., pp. 137). N.p.: PHI Learning Pvt. Ltd.

Pre PR Reflection

Coming into this class I didn’t really have much of an idea of what advertising and public relations was REALLY all about besides what I saw on Mad Men. This show showed me that there is a client and pleasing the client is pretty much the most important part of the business. You need to listen to the clients needs and objectives that they are trying to show to the public, so any advertisement is important because it will be the image or slogan that the public will think of when they hear about that client. I’m sure that the vast majority of what happened on that show was not what working at an Ad agency would be like but it helped me get a little idea of what the stress level and the creative thinking involved might be like. However, I am looking forward to learning more in depth about advertising and public relations than what I saw on Mad Men.

As an art and design major that is trying to get into the graphic design program, I thought advertising and public relations would be a good field to minor in and gain some insight about. Since my graphic design work will have to appeal to the public, it would be helpful to gain some understanding of the interests and concerns of the publics and how to relate to them.

When I think of public relations my mind instantly thinks about celebrities and scandals. People in the PR field try to do anything in their power to promote their client’s image. Sometimes this can be good things and other times not so good. For example, when celebrities get in trouble with the police, PR people try their best to keep everything under wraps so the public hopefully won’t hear much information about it. They also help with giving celebrities a positive image like when they go to a charity event they will usually notify the paparazzi to the location of the celebrities. PR people’s main job in my mind is to pretty much protect and promote their clients image, so the public will see the celebrities the way the celebrities want to be seen to the public.

I feel that people in the public relations field can be seen in a negative way. This can happen when they promote bad people or bad business’s. If I decide to pursue a career in public relations I would like to stay true to myself and to not try to fix the image of celebrities that I know is a terrible person or promote a business that I know will do nothing but bring harm to the public. For example in Mad Men when the main character decided to end all relations with clients that sell cigarettes because he knew they were bad for the public and he also wanted to gain other clientele.

This is a business that I think can be easy to get involved in challenging situations and may involve changing a bad person’s image. However, this can also be a very rewarding career when you promote the image of an aspiring small business or help the image of a good person that was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I obviously have a lot more to learn about public relations and I can honestly say that I am excited to actually learn NEW information in this class no matter how challenging and frustrating it may get. I am also excited to get to promote real clients and to have assignments that I will really be achieving in the future.