PRSSAgency Handbook Spring 2010

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This a handbook I created to outline the goals, objectives, roles and policies of PRSSAgency, BU's student-run public relations firm.

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PRSSAgency Handbook Spring 2010

  1. 1. PRSSAgency 2010 Handbook
  2. 2. Contents Welcome to PRSSAgency .............................................................................................................................. 3  Our Mission................................................................................................................................................... 4  PRSA Code of Ethics ...................................................................................................................................... 4  Organizational Structure............................................................................................................................... 6  Agency Roles and Positions........................................................................................................................... 6  Vice President of Public Relations and Director of PRSSAgency............................................................... 7  Account Director (AD) ............................................................................................................................... 7  Account Executive (AE) ............................................................................................................................. 7  Getting Started.............................................................................................................................................. 8  Services and Clients ...................................................................................................................................... 9  Contracts and Billing ................................................................................................................................... 10  Communication Policy ................................................................................................................................ 11  Evaluation ................................................................................................................................................... 12   
  3. 3. Welcome to PRSSAgency Dear Staff Member, Welcome to the BU PRSSAgency team! PRSSAgency is an opportunity for you to gain real public relations experience. For many, it is difficult to secure an internship without any experience, but how can you gain experience without an internship? Your time with PRSSAgency is a chance for you to add something significant to your resume to help you when you begin applying for internships. As a member of the PRSSAgency team, you are responsible for providing professional, high quality work for your clients. PRSSAgency has built a strong reputation around providing excellent service to all of its clients. It is part of your job to help maintain the promise of high quality work. Your commitment to this work essential to the success of the team and the agency. I hope you come away from your time with PRSSAgency with real skills and experience that can be applied as you move forward in your career. Sincerely, Emilie O’Toole Director of PRSSAgency
  4. 4. Our Mission PRSSAgency aims to provide real public relations experience to our members and quality work and strategy to our clients. Staff members will learn important professional skills, including team work, leadership and the ability to handle multiple tasks. PRSA Code of Ethics As a nationally recognized chapter of PRSSA, we adhere to the following Code of Professional Standards set forth by PRSA in all of our activities. It is essential in order to promote high quality service and ethical conduct from our members. Please review this code before you begin client work. 1. A member shall conduct his/her professional life in accord with the public interest. 2. A member shall exemplify high standards of honesty and integrity whole carrying out dual obligations to a client or employer and to the democratic process. 3. A member shall deal fairly with public, with past or present clients or employers, and with fellow practitioners, giving due respect to the ideal of free inquiry and to the opinions of others. 4. A member shall adhere to the highest standards of accuracy and truth, avoiding extravagant claims or unfair comparisons and giving credit for ideas and words borrowed from others. 5. A member shall not knowingly disseminate false or misleading information and shall act promptly to correct erroneous communications for which he or she is responsible. 6. A member shall not engage in any practice that has the purpose of corrupting the integrity of channels of communication or the process of government. 7. A member shall be prepared to identify publicly the name of the client or employer on whose behalf any public communication is made. 8. A member shall not use any individual or organization professing to serve or represent an announced cause, or professing to be independent or unbiased, but actually serving another or undisclosed interest. 9. A member shall not guarantee the achievement of specified results beyond the member’s direct control.
  5. 5. 10. A member shall not represent conflicting or competing interests without the expressed consent of those concerned, given after a full disclosure of the facts. 11. A member shall not place himself or herself in a position where the member’s personal interest is or may be in conflict with an obligation to an employer or client, or others, without full disclosure of such interests to all involved. 12. A member shall not accept fees, commissions, gifts or any other consideration from anyone except clients or employers for who services are performed without full disclosure of such interests to all involved. 13. A member shall scrupulously safeguard the confidences and privacy rights of present, former and prospective clients or employers. 14. A member shall not intentionally damage the professional reputation or practice of another practitioner. 15. If a member has evidence that another member has been guilty of unethical, illegal, or unfair practices, including those in violation of this Code, the member shall represent the information promptly to the proper authorities of the Society for action in accordance with the procedure set forth in Article XII of the bylaws. 16. A member called as a witness in a proceeding for the enforcement of this Code shall be bound to appear, unless excused for sufficient reasons by the judicial panel. 17. A member shall, as soon as possible, sever relations with any organization or individual if such relationship requires conduct contrary to the articles of this Code.
  6. 6. Organizational Structure VP of Public Relations and Director of PRSSAgency Account Directors Account Executive Account Executive Account Executive   Account Directors Account Executive Account Executive Account Executive     Account Directors Account Executive Account Executive Account Executive    
  7. 7. Agency Roles and Positions Vice President of Public Relations and PRSSAgency The director of PRSSAgency is there for all staff members as a resource and mentor. The director is responsible for attracting new clients, maintaining the functionality of the agency, writing client and staff contracts, in addition to a variety of other administrative tasks. The director is also the main point of contact if any problems or questions arise while working with a client. All staff members are responsible for keeping the VP informed of any conflicts or issues throughout the semester. Account Director (AD) Each client or account has two account directors, who are responsible for leading the team to accomplish the goals set forth by the client. Account directors must conduct themselves responsibly and professionally. They are in direct contact with the client. Account directors must hold weekly meetings with their account team to ensure that each staff member is participating and responsible for their work. Responsibilities of the account director include the following: • Serve as the main point of contact for the client • Seek approval of projects from the client and update them on the team’s progress • Develop goals and objectives for the client • Communicate with account executives in regards to expectations and duties • Schedule staff and client meetings • Update the VP on account progress • Keep account executives motivated and involved in the account   Account Executive (AE) The account executives are the heart and soul of PRSSAgency. Each client team is assigned four to six account executives. These staff members work together to brainstorm, plan and execute any strategies and tactics for the client. They are responsible for keeping the account directors informed of projects and any issues that may arise. As an account executive, you will be responsible for specific tasks as delegated by your account directors. These tasks will vary depending on the needs of your client. Responsibilities of the account executives include the following:  • Brainstorm ideas for accomplishing the clients goals • Execute ideas as agreed upon with the client • Take charge of their specific tasks, as assigned by the account directors • Keep the account directors and the rest of the team up to date on their individual projects • Attend all client and team meetings
  8. 8. Getting Started Once you have been assigned a role within the account team, there are many things you are required to do. Semester Deadlines At the beginning of each semester, the account director will distribute a calendar with specific dates and deadlines. This will be your reference guide for work and operations. Initial Client Meeting Account directors are responsible for setting up an initial client meeting for the team. All team members should be present if possible. The meeting must take place within a week of client assignment. At this first meeting, the account team should work to outline three main goals for the semester with the client. These should be written out and agreed upon with the client. Important questions to ask the client include: • What are the client’s needs? • What has the client done in the past? • What are the client’s goals? • Does the client have room for a budget? If so, how much? • What is the deadline for completion of the work?   SWOT Analysis When an account team begins working with a client, they are required to complete a SWOT Analysis form. By identifying the client’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, the team will be better able to create a plan and proposal to meet the client’s needs. The purpose of this form is to facilitate discussion around how to best achieve the client’s goals This form should be completed at the first team meeting and is included in the appendix. PR Plan Once you have established the client’s goals, it is time to construct a solid pr plan for the account team to accomplish during the semester or year. The plan should be written out and presented to the client. This will serve as a way for them to follow a general outline of the semester and visually see how their goals will be accomplished. It should be laid out in a simple format and include the client’s three main goals followed by potential strategies for achieving each goal. Planning is essential to the success of any good public relations campaign. Remember, this plan should serve as a guide and may be altered as the semester goes on. The plan should be created together with the entire account team.
  9. 9. Services and Clients PRSSAgency works with a variety of different clients. These include non-profits, local businesses, musicians, website startups and student groups. Client needs are as various as the clients themselves. Services We offer our clients many different services to fit their needs and communication goals, which include: • Media Relations • Special Events • Creative Design • Community Relations • Op-Ed/Editorial/Feature Writing • Social Media Our services are not limited to these. If a client has something else in mind, the project can be discussed further to determine how the agency staff can fit their needs and accomplish their goals. Past Clients PRSSAgency has worked with a variety of different clients throughout its short lifespan. These include: • BU Hug Don’t Hat • BU MLK Jr. Peace Concert 2008 • InternshipRatings.com • The Middle East Restaurant, Cambridge, MA • The Mike Lombardi Trio • New England Eye Commonwealth, Brookline, MA • PleaseDressMe.com • Wiggio.com    
  10. 10. Contracts and Billing Since PRSSAgency is a student run-firm, our client contracts are not legally binding. They simply function as a working agreement between the account team and the client. A contract outlines the goals of the client and the work products they would like to see at the end of a working period. The director of PRSSAgency is responsible for writing and presenting the initial contract or working agreement for the client. Billing PRSSAgency does not charge any service fee for working with our clients. Clients are responsible for any costs that may be associated with any agreed upon campaign plans. These costs must be discussed with the client and agreed upon before any action may be taken. Client Contracts Clients of PRSSAgency are required to sign a contract or “working agreement” at the beginning of their partnership with the agency. This agreement outlines the agreed upon services, expectations and terms of the client relationship. It is essential to remind clients that while the contract is not legally binding, it is to their advantage to provide PRSSAgency with the most information possible in order to successfully complete the work for them. Staff Contracts All staff members are required to sign a staff contract. This contract is used as a working agreement to ensure that all staff members are committed to their work for PRSSAgency. The contract is not legally binding. If a staff member does not abide by the terms established in the contract, they may be asked to leave the agency. 
  11. 11. Communication Policy  Successful public relations practices are all about communicating. As public relations practitioners, we are first and foremost communicators. Keep this in mind as you work with your client to achieve their goals successfully. Weekly E-mail Updates Each week, the account directors are responsible for sending an email update to the director of PRSSAgency and their client. The e-mail update for the director of PRSSAgency should include: • Details of all client communication from the week • Completed tasks and a progress report on any on-going projects • Goals to be achieved in the next week • Questions, comments and concerns regarding the client or agency policy The e-mail update for the client should include: • Completed tasks and a progress report on any on-going projects • Goals to be achieved in the next week • Questions regarding client work and requests
  12. 12. Evaluation Client Evaluation It is important for clients to see that our efforts have produced results at the end of the semester or year. Account teams will be required to work together to create a final report for the client, including a summary of the overall strategy and tactics, measures of the success of the campaign and any work products that were created. It is advised that account teams continually work on collecting information and materials for this report throughout their time working with the client. Clients will also be required to fill out an end of work evaluation form to be given to the account team. Information from this evaluation will be used to improve future client service and agency operations. Team Evaluation All staff members must work as a team throughout the semester in order to achieve success for the client. Each staff member will be required to complete an evaluation form at the end of the semester to assess and evaluate their individual performance and their team’s performance. Personal evaluation is essential for PRSSAgency to make future improvements to client service and agency operations. Presentation of Results At the end of the year, each account team will be required to give an informal presentation about their campaign and client at a general PRSSA chapter meeting. The presentation will involve a review of successes and failures to evaluate the team’s work and to teach other members about agency work. The purpose of the presentation is to share agency work with other PRSSA members. Presentation skills are also essential to succeeding in any agency setting. This will give staff members the opportunity to improve their skills early on in their career.
  13. 13. SWOT Analysis Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats

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