Goodbye LSU, Hello World!

 The end of the semester is approaching. Not only is our campaigns class ending, but my entire undergraduate career at LSU is as well.

            That being said, everything is wrapping up. Very quickly. You would think by now I would have learned to pace myself throughout the semester, but it never works out like that. Today I realized that I have fourteen days left until my last final ever, and I have a million things to do. Despite being overwhelmed, I’m, for the most, part very excited and proud to get my diploma.

            Thankfully, 6+ Solutions has been extremely proactive in our campaign. We decided ahead of time that we would have our book completed early, in an effort to relieve the stress we knew would come along with graduation, finals, etc…That was definitely a good idea.

            Last Monday was our third and final fundraising dinner for our nonprofit, Gaitway. The fundraiser was held at Mestizo’s, a local Mexican restaurant here in Baton Rouge.

Jim, the manager of Mestizo’s was extremely accommodating to our event. We were allowed to promote GaitWay directly to customers. We set up an easel with our flier enlarged, and we had Gaitway brochures and had a donation box stationed at the bar.

While we haven’t gotten the official numbers back from our events, I would definitely say that we met our goal. We had customers supporting Gaitway at all three events. In addition, we had Gaitway representatives at each dinner who were present spreading awareness and information about Gaitway to patrons. It’s quite challenging to designate target audiences and to choose proper mediums to achieve maximum outreach for a company that doesn’t truly even have an audience. Their awareness was practically nonexistent when we started this campaign.

This campaign has taught me so much about what public relations is. I have had a couple internships before, but this was my first experience working on a public relations team throughout the entire campaign. I’ve learned that each member is necessary to be successful. Research strategy, design, writing and planning are all key to a PR campaign, and it’s very rare that one person will be an expert in all of these fields.

Even though we’ve had many challenges arise during these past few months, I have to say that what I’ve learned has outweighed our struggles. In my career, I’m going to have difficult clients, and I am going to have to learn how to deal with them efficiently. This campaign has definitely given me a head start on this, and for that I am grateful. Working for a nonprofit is very rewarding, and with this being my second nonprofit client, I’m almost certain that’s what I want to do upon graduation! I’m extremely anxious, excited and anxious to get to the next point in my life 🙂

 

Until then, help support a great nonprofit!

Twitter: @gaitwaybrla

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GaitWayBRLA

 

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“Just Say Gaitway!”

One of my classmates recently made me realize that we only have nine days of class left. This is actually around five weeks, but saying I only have nine days of class left is really good for my psyche. After the excitement wore down, the bittersweet feelings kicked in. Over the past four years I’ve grown to love everything about LSU, especially the Manship school. I’ve realized that I’m sincerely going to miss this place.

As for our campaign, it’s starting to wrap up. In less than a week our restaurant call we named, “Just Say Gaitway” begins. At Reginelli’s and Mestizo’s, 10% of patrons bill will go to Gaitway. At California Pizza Kitchen, 20% will go to Gaitway. At all of these restaurants, the customers will have to either present a flyer, or “Just Say Gaitway.”

We’ve been working hard to create flyers, donation cards, and revamping brochures so that we have material to hand out at these events. We plan on spreading awareness and showing people who Gaitway is and what exactly it is that they do for our community. Since not many people really know, I think this restaurant crawl is going to be very effective.

I think the rest of the team will agree that this crawl is where we’ve had the most impact on Gaitway. The ribbon cutting was great, and turned out wonderful, but the board took a lot of control over that particular event. The restaurant crawl is the first part of the campaign where we’ve had complete control. We contacted the restaurants, made the copy and design for all of our materials, secured the times and dates and are spreading the word using our own methods.

We chose the restaurants carefully, targeting certain audiences. Each restaurant has a different target to ensure that we reach the maximum amount of people. For Reginelli’s, we’re targeting of college students. It’s a cheap, fun place on campus, and we’re hoping to use the fact that college students appreciate feeling involved and giving back to the community. We chose CPK because it is so centrally located, and always busy. Perkins Rowe is an easy, effective way to tell people who are shopping, seeing a movie and dining out about Gaitway. Finally, Shelley and the rest of the board are close with the owner of Mestizo’s, and frequent the restaurant. They are all planning on attending this event, and are helping us spread the word to their friends and family.

Now that all of these fundraisers are secured, it’s smooth sailing. All we need is attendance, which we are working on right now via social media and word of mouth.

Follow our Facebook here- http://www.facebook.com/GaitWayBRLA

Twitter- @GaitwayBRLA

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Successfully cutting the ribbon!

 

Last Wednesday, Gaitway had their first ribbon cutting, where they celebrated the opening of their new location. The whole day was successful, and thankfully everything went smoothly. The barn looked fabulous. We had bouquets of roses in cowboy boots, burlap table clothes, and lots of streamers.

 

Ryan Grizaffi of Bayou Boys graciously donated an abundance of jambalaya and shrimp and corn soup, which was served to the board and all of the attendees. As for the attendees, our goal was to have 30-40 people attend…our turnout was almost 60!

 

Kip Holden generously attended, even giving an inspiring speech about Gaitway and all that the organization has to offer. After Shelley cut the ribbon, the audience got to enjoy the children actually riding the horses, which gave everyone, including myself, a better understanding of Gaitway’s positive impact on our community.

 

WAFB, Channel 9 did a great piece on the event, which was featured on the six o’clock news. Baton Rouge’s The Advocate and InRegister were also present. The Baton Rouge Post also did a piece on Gaitway. Overall, we met all of our goals and got some great pictures that Gaitway can now have to remember the start of their new property.

 

Now that our first event turned out great, our next fundraising campaign is in full swing. Our three restaurant fundraisers will take place each week in April. We’ve been working hard designing copy, brochures and informational pieces that we can hand out to everyone who attends. I’m looking forward to this. Since we chose restaurants that have a big clientele in the first place, this is going to give us a chance to promote awareness of Gaitway to people who have no idea what it is. Plus, among the board, us and Gaitway’s clients, we will be able to promote these events to our own friends and family.

 

Now that my own internship is coming to an end, I’m looking forward to be able to dedicating even more time to promoting this nonprofit in any way that I can. Currently I’m revamping their FAQ sheet, and helping compile a newsletter for their board and clients.

 

The only complaint I have in this campaign is how hard it is to reach my contacts at Gaitway. They all have other jobs, and when they’re not working they are always busy with something else. This turns into us being reached last minute and expected to meet their 12 hour deadline. It’s frustrating, but we have been working around it and most importantly, our client is continuing to be happy with our results.

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Averting Potential Crises

Never expect an event to go smoothly. You will be crushed. Be prepared for every single detail to go wrong. Always have back up plan. These are all lessons instilled in us at LSU from the earliest of public relations classes, and I am not taking them for granted. My dad always told me, “A good man learns from his own mistakes, but a wise man learns from others.” I definitely do not want to learn the importance of these lessons the hard way. Since we have so many events going on in this particular campaign, we are definitely utilizing everything we’ve learned.

I can’t believe the semester is halfway gone. We still have so much more to do with our campaigns, but now we can look back and see that we’ve already accomplished so much. Our first event, the ribbon cutting is right around the corner. All of the details are solidified down to the centerpieces and color of the balloons. The invitations are going out today, and we have media and Kip Holden secured. We’re extremely grateful to have a friend of mine, Ryan Grizaffi, donate his product and time to cater the event. Check out his up and coming business here. 

The event in May is a different story. After a lot of planning and meetings with the board of advisers, Gaitway has decided to change the entire event. What was going to be a carnival at Gerry Lane Enterprise at with hot air balloons, food, bingo and more has been cancelled. Instead, Gaitway wants to have a skeet shoot for the families involved with Gaitway. We have slightly different opinions than the board on how successful this would be for Gaitway, so more to come on this later…

Since we aren’t involved in the event planning for the May event as it is after our April 27 deadline, we are stepping up on the fundraising. Instead of only having three fundraising dinners, we have decided to have one a week for the month of April and possibly some of March. To get maximum outreach we will target a different audience for each restaurant. So far we have secured Mestizo’s and we are working on California Pizza Kitchen, BJ’s Brewhouse and Reginelli’s. We’re working on creating comment cards and a media kit to hand out to customers. We are promoting these events through word of mouth and social media.  Now that we have more time to work on fundraising, I think that we will be extremely successful in our endeavors.

At the beginning of the semester when I found out I would be account liaison, I’ll admit I was extremely nervous about the responsibility. But with the help of my team, and a very detailed planner, I am really growing passionate about the success of this campaign. 

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Cutting the Ribbon

6+ Solutions has already made so much progress in such a short amount of time. Now that we each have plenty to work on in regard to our individual roles, I am realizing how well we work together as a team. In my opinion, we’re doing an outstanding job in combining our areas of strengths and creating an effective campaign.

On top of working with each other, 6+ Solutions has had the opportunity to meet the entire board and advisors for Gaitway Horsemanship.  At first I was worried we would have communication issues due to the busy schedules of those involved at Gaitway. But they have managed to make our team a priority, and get back to us efficiently. They are all amazing people with amazing ideas. We are helping them bring these ideas to life.

As account liaison to Gaitway’s director and board, I have really gotten to appreciate the work that goes into a nonprofit organization, particularly Gaitway. Gaitway not only has to maintain their clientele, but they have to physically, running only on volunteers, maintain barns, stables, horses and pastures. In constantly having to communicate with those involved with Gaitway, I am realizing how passionate they are about this organization. This makes me want to learn even more about the operations of a nonprofit.

Our first event is right around the corner, and so far everything is going smoothly. In fact, it’s turning out even better than I’d anticipated. We’re throwing a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of Gaitway’s new location. Here, they will have bigger pastures, more horses and most importantly be able to provide therapy and hippotherapy to more people, every day of the week.

We decided to mainly target those already involved with Gaitway for this particular event. We are sending out personalized E-vites to all of Gaitway’s current clients, as well as the board of advisers.

As for media attendance, Louisiana’s mayor, Kip Holden, will be present at the ceremony, and this attracted local news outlets. I’ve yet to compile the full list, but so far we have a couple of outlets, which is what we’d hoped for.

To make the actual ribbon cutting a success, we have met with Gaitways’ director, Shelley Rose, the board of Gaitway and many volunteers involved. Brittany, our event coordinator, has acquired us giant scissors to cut the ribbon. A friend of mine has generously offered to donate his time and company’s products to cook a jambalaya for all of the attendees.

The ribbon cutting is in little over a week. There is still much work to do, but since each of us has our own part in the event, I know it will be successful. I hope the rest of the campaign runs as smoothly as it has so far.

Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/lindsey-miller/2b/911/99

Twitter: @yourlinzness

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/GaitWay-Therapeutic-Horsemanship/144712965595857

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Blog 1: The Initial Meeting

Today, 6+ Solutions met with Gaitway Horsemanship, a nonprofit organization that provides therapeutic horseback riding to those with disabilities, mental or physical. I’d never heard of this new client before, but upon further research I’m learning that it’s an extraordinary cause; one that I can’t wait to gain publicity for.

Upon our first meeting with Shelley Barry, who is in charge of training the riders on the horses as well as organizing events for Gaitway Horsemanship (GH), I started to get really excited about the project. The rest of my team feels this way as well which is really hyping us all up and enabling us to come up with some extremely good ideas.

Our main goal for this campaign is to successfully plan three events: A Ribbon Cutting ceremony for GH’s new location, a fundraising dinner at a popular, local restaurant, and finally a huge gala at the end of the semester. Planning three large events in one semester sounds like a lot to handle at once, but I’m completely confident that my team will be able to handle it. We have a research director, designer, event coordinator, strategy developer, a writer and then myself, the account liaison. Combined, we have already come up with a plethora of ideas that will enable our campaign to be the best it can be.

So far, we plan on inviting all of GH’s current and prospective clients to the grand opening of their new location in hopes to show appreciation to their patronage. We are currently speaking with different restaurants in Baton Rouge that are both well-known and popular to see if we can organize a percentage of their proceeds to be donated to GH. We are hoping to target popular restauraunt’s that are fairly busy with middle to upper class families. We are also targeting college students, since they typically enjoy giving back to the community and feeling like they are making a difference. To get the word out about these first two events, we are creating a media kit, a hype video, brochures and social media.

I know from experience that working with a nonprofit organization is one of the most rewarding jobs you can find. These days it’s rare to find such good organizations that aren’t just in it for the money. I can already tell that working with GH is going to be an amazing experience.

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