Division D
Category 4 - Computer-Generated Communication
“Official Blog of Student FPRA: Capital Chapter” Summary Paper

Research/Situation Analysis: At the start of our term as FPRA Student Executive Board, we realized there was no existing method of obtaining information about our organization’s current and past activities for our student members. Additionally there was no place for potential members to visit and learn more about joining our organization. While we had a presence on Facebook, the platform has limitations and Facebook is primarily used to raise awareness rather than educate. Rather than inundate our members with emails about events, internship opportunities, meeting recaps and announcements we needed a central location or one-stop place to connect all of our information sources.  

With an abundance of information covered in the meetings, we were aware that members may not catch all of it. Also, with only 50% of dues-paying members attending meetings, half of the members were missing out on the information and events we announced.

After assessing the member’s needs, we decided a website was the best solution since it would provide a centralized location for members to obtain pertinent information and also provided a means to reach our target audience – Tallahassee area college students with an interest in Public Relations.

With no budget in place for a website, the platform had to be little or no cost. Additionally, we required easy customization, a means to evaluate the success of each entry and the site as a whole and organized and pleasing appearance.

We researched the different platforms available us and keeping in mind our list of requirements we found that Wordpress.com was the best site to use. According to Mashable.com, a top 3 technology blogging site, Wordpress was rated #1 in “Top Blogging Platforms” http://tinyurl.com/ybv6alz According to Blog Services http://tinyurl.com/ygl8akd Wordpress was #1 with an overall rating of “Excellent.” Wordpress had “Excellent” promotion and tracking tools, “Excellent” help/support, “Excellent” design tools and “Excellent” ease of use.

Objectives: In 2008-2009, we had a total of 60 dues-paying members with an average attendance of 42 members per meeting. Using those figures we established the following objectives: 1.) To increase our social media presence by obtaining 50 Facebook Fans and 50 Twitter followers by January 2010. 2.) To obtain 100 monthly Web site hits, for a total of 500 website hits between September 2009 and January 2010. 3.) To increase the number of FPRA Student members in the Tallahassee Area by 20% by Jan. 2010.

Implementation: At the beginning of the Fall 2009 semester the FPRA Student Executive Board reached out to an active FPRA student member with an extensive knowledge of blogging and social media who volunteered to develop, set up and launch our blog at http://fprastudent.wordpress.com. We organized our blog into seven sections: Home Page, Featured Member, Internship Opportunities, Meeting Recaps, FAQ and Tips, Proseminar and Upcoming Events. These sections were the best way to organize pertinent information for our target audience. The Featured Member page was implemented as a way to promote both active and distinguished members and encourage members to visit the site after we announced the honoree at our bimonthly meeting. We implemented grassroots techniques to spread raise awareness of the new blog each of the five FPRA Executive Board members went to communication classes on the FSU campus to promote the FPRA student chapter meetings and the website. We created a Twitter account and a new Facebook fan page which both served as a means to promote new uploads on the blog and reach out to members on those social media platforms. We also housed a Twitter feed on the blog and a Facebook badge to promote the student chapter on these two sites. Finally, we sent an email blast out to our existing FPRA contacts to announce the new site and included a link to the website on the email signature for the FPRA primary student email account.

Evaluation: 1.) In January we reached a total of 131 Twitter followers exceeding our goal by 162%. In addition we engaged those followers by receiving 60 total retweets and mentions with a potential 123,698 views. On Facebook we reached a total of 108 fans. 2.) To evaluate the successes of the FPRA student blog, we used statistics from the dashboard of our wordpress.com account and found the blog received 682 hits in Sept., 375 hits in Oct., 291 hits in Nov., 226 hits in Dec., and 1580 hits in Jan. This provided a grand total of 3,376 total hits, exceeding our goal by 475.2%. 3.) Finally in the 08-09 membership count FPRA had 60 student members in the Tallahassee area increasing membership by 94%. As of Jan. 2010 there are 136 dues-paying members, which exceeds our goal by 106%.

Budget: There was no budget for the development of the blog and there was no dollar amount needed to create and implement the website on Wordpress.com. No cost was needed for implementation and maintenance, as the blog posts were a direct contribution of voluntary Executive Board member time and guest contributors. However, we spend a total of 57 hours on design and implementation, 106.5 hours on maintenance and 17.6 hours on promotion.