The Do’s and Don’ts of Infographics

My persuasive infographic on childhood obesity
For a strategic writing course, I created an infographic using Piktochart illustrating the dangers of childhood obesity. I chose to focus on childhood obesity because it is a growing issue in the United States that I am passionate about. I also chose childhood obesity because it is the platform of First Lady Michelle Obama, one of my role models. She began a campaign titled “Let’s Move!” to fight this rapidly growing problem that partially inspired my infographic; however, it is intended for use on the Centers for Disease Control’s website.

My infographic aims to educate parents about the growing rate of childhood obesity, health risks associated with the condition, and mechanisms for prevention.

Why an infographic?

Infographics are a growing trend in public relations. They are a great way to convey important information in an engaging format. In a world where people are becoming less and less interested in reading a page-long article, infographics communicate messages through design and, when used effectively, can prompt action.

Creating an infographic requires balance, patience and creativity. Through the process, I learned a lot about what you should and shouldn’t do to capture your audience’s attention. I’m excited to share what I learned; the five “do’s and don’ts” of infographic design.

Don’t overwhelm the viewer.
Infographics require a delicate balance between exciting design and too much design. Limit yourself to no more than five colors and two fonts. If you think you might have too much on the page, you probably do.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
If you are new to graphic design, building an infographic from scratch might be overwhelming. As a beginner, consider using Piktochart or a different template-generator for your first infographic to learn the ropes. If you are committed to using InDesign, there are hundreds of online resources where experts give tips and advice. A quick Google search will point you to websites that can help with color swatches, graphs, images, and everything in between. For example, check out Kuler, a free tool that generates color swatches for InDesign.

Do research the topic.
A good infographic consolidates a topic and conveys only the “must know” information. Thoroughly research your topic across a variety of sources, so you can be sure that your infographic includes the best and most important information available.

Do have a plan.
Before you open Piktochart or InDesign, put some thought into the way you want your infographic to work. Look at examples of infographics for inspiration and then draw out a rough sketch of the way you want your infographic to look. Think about the overall feel of the message you want to convey and pick fonts and colors that match it.

Do be patient.
They didn’t build Rome in a day, and you probably won’t build your infographic in one either. Give yourself enough time to play around with different fonts, colors, images, and designs until you find the perfect ones. I recommend beginning your infographic at least a week before it is due to avoid frustration and create a product you can be proud of.

Four Steps to Successful Social Media

My group and I with Jan Bohman, community relations director for the City of Eugene after our social media audit presentation.
This quarter, I had the opportunity to work with two fellow PR majors on a social media audit and conversation analysis for the City of Eugene. Our job was to look at the city’s current social media practices in comparison with two other cities and to generate recommendations for improvement. At the culmination of the project, we had the privilege of presenting what we learned about successful social media to more than a dozen city officials and workers. This is what we told them.

Use Analytic Tools

Professional social media requires more than composing tweets or posting on Facebook. There are hundreds of websites and applications designed to analyze influence and success on social media. Use these tools frequently to track progress and measure success. This will help you decide which of your media tactics are working and what needs to be changed. My favorite tool is Edelman’s TweetLevel, which scores a Twitter handle based on engagement, trust, influence and popularity. See how your Twitter handle is doing now for free:

Know the Platforms

Every social media platform exists because it offers users something unique that they cannot get anywhere else. For this reason, it is crucial that you have an understanding of each social media platform you use. Know what people look for when they check a particular social media account and tailor your content to that platform. Encourage social media users to follow you on every social media account by offering unique content on each channel. Never directly share content from one social media platform to another. Your content will be altered along the way due to differences in message length requirements, and your message will change, as well.

Join the Conversation

It is impossible to control what people say about your organization or brand on social media. But thanks to social media analytic tools, it is possible to understand them. We used an online tool called Social Mention to see what people were saying about the City of Eugene. Social mention shows you top hashtags, sentiment ratios, authors and other information about a key phrase. You can use this information to become an active member of the conversations going on about your brand or organization.

Engage, Engage, Engage

The most important lesson I learned through our work with the City of Eugene is the importance of engagement. Once you have identified the ongoing conversations that exist outside of your own social media accounts, join them. Replying to, sharing and liking followers posts show that their opinions are valued and important. Boosting engagement will increase your influence and popularity on social media. This will improve your overall presence and trustworthiness as a brand. Check out @travelportland to see a great example of engagement on Twitter.

I would like to thank my group members, Brad Sheets and Ryan Lundquist, and Jan Bohman at the City of Eugene for this opportunity.

Five Ways to Be Hirable

I recently had the opportunity to have a conversation with Rachel Koppes, a 2012 SOJC grad who now works as an account coordinator at SHIFT Communications in San Francisco. SHIFT is an award-winning agency that most PR majors, myself included, would feel lucky to work for.

As I soon learned during my interview with Rachel, luck had nothing to do with her post-graduation success. These are the top five tips I learned from Rachel about how to get ahead in PR and make yourself hirable in the industry.

Make the most of your classes
In the words of Rachel, “Life is a group project.” Her first piece of advice to me was to take advantage of every project and assignment during my time at the SOJC. Engaging in her group projects helped Rachel learn to get along with different personality types and how to be a leader in a group setting, which has helped her get ahead at SHIFT. Plus, you never know what assignment will be a strong portfolio piece and which group project will land you powerful connections. Working hard now will impress potential future employers later.

Create opportunities for yourself
A huge turning point for Rachel occurred her sophomore year, when she persuaded the Humane Society of Eugene to let her do some social media work for them. This was her first internship experience and helped propel her toward other internships and build her resume. Opportunities won’t come to you; you have to come to them. Build your resume by looking for people and places who could use help with their PR and offering your help free of charge. Eventually, you’ll gain enough experience that people will come to you.

Be interesting
Develop interests outside of school and PR and be prepared to talk about them in an interview. Showing that you are curious about a range of topics indicates the type of intellect and resourcefulness that agencies seek. Remember, people hire people, not resumes. Agencies want to hire people who will charm their clients and contribute positively to the workplace environment. Find ways to show you would be a hardworking and fun member of an agency’s team. In Rachel’s words, if an agency doesn’t care about this, it might not be the agency for you.

Be humble
During Rachel’s internships, she set herself apart because she was both hardworking and humble. Never be afraid to ask for help or admit when you made a mistake. Take the initiative to volunteer for projects and tasks that aren’t part of your role.

Build connections
Rachel decided she wanted to work in agency PR through the connections she made in PRSSA. When I asked her about her job search, Rachel’s biggest piece of advice was to make connections. Reach out to people at agencies you think you would like to work at early, and they will remember you later. Look for opportunities to make connections with anyone and everyone in agency PR. Eventually, you’ll connect with the person who will lead you to your dream job.

I’d like to thank Rachel for taking the time to give me such great advice.

Follow Rachel:
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Hello there…

And welcome to my blog! My name is Nellie Maher, and I am a senior at the University of Oregon studying public relations. This blog is part of a course I am currently enrolled in here at the UO called Strategic Public Relations Communication.

Over the next 10 weeks, I will explore the world of public relations through the lens of the topics we cover in class. For those seeking blog posts related to DIY projects, fashion trends, and new music, I recommend you go elsewhere. And, although I consider myself to be an expert on pugs, you won’t find any adorable crinkled faces or curled tails on the pages of this blog.

If PR is your thing, then I invite you to join me as I enter the world of blogging and expand my knowledge of public relations.

And fine, here’s one picture of my pugs. Just one, I promise.