Away for the day // 10.07.2017

After a week of tests and yearbook deadlines, I knew I needed to get away for the day. My friend, Levi, and I spent the day in Mountain View, Arkansas. The overcast skies and low 80-degree weather made for a really great day, and I have some pictures to prove it.

Today I’m thankful for a break from school and for friends.

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-K

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Back in the saddle // 08.23.2017

Almost two weeks ago, I packed up my over-abundance of shoes and clothes and moved 25 minutes back down the road to Harding University.

People often ask me what it’s like to be that close to home when I’m at college. To be quite honest, it’s the best of both worlds. I’m experiencing my own little college world here on campus, but my loving family and a free-of-charge washing machine is just a hop down the road. I’m thankful for that.

I moved back into Armstrong Hall, a place that I didn’t even want to live my freshman year. Yes, that’s right. On my housing preference form, I listed that I wanted to live in Keller Hall. HA! That just proves that what you want isn’t always what’s best for you. I’m starting junior year back here in Armstrong Hall as a resident assistant, and frankly, it’s the best job I’ve ever had.

 

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Armstrong 126 // Come visit me in Armstrong 126, and I’ll tell you why this place is so special to me and why community is so important.

 

In this stage of life, people always ask you what you want to do when you graduate college. For the longest, I’ve not really known a for-sure answer to that ever-present question. But as last school year wrapped up and I begin working with college students again (as an RA and in Student Publications), I’ve realized that the answer to that question is getting nearer. And I think it involves college students.

Today marks day three of classes, and despite their challenge, I think I’m really going to benefit from my classes this semester. I’m thankful to be back in a routine where I’m excited to learn and to know more.

It’s good to back in the saddle and starting my junior year here at Harding University.

I pray this school year brings knowledge, foresight and chicken nuggets. If I can get those three things, junior year will be another great one for the history books.

-K

In Malibu // 06.30 – 07.04.2017

When my roommate Nathan told me that he’d be living and working in Malibu, California, this summer and that he had an open bed, I started making my plans to be there. One way or another, I’d be in California for a couple days this summer.

I strategically planned to take a long weekend off from work in conjunction with the Fourth of July. My planning paid off, and I got to spend three full days and two half days there.

Here are some highlights from my trip.

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Flying Southwest because flying Delta was too expensive. As always, I grabbed the window seat and didn’t complain. The Arizona landscape provided for some great scenery. Southwest, can you just sponsor me now?
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One of our Saturday locations was Santa Monica Pier where we people watched and ate hotdogs.
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Looks like an ad for a freaking surf shop. Geez.
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Nathan’s girlfriend, Peri, was also in town, so I happily took the backseat. Truth is, I like Peri more than I like Nathan.
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We spent Saturday afternoon at Venice Beach where we watched skaters for a solid 20 minutes. Mad props to them.
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A pier view of Venice Beach.
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A pier view of Venice Beach.
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Ok – how could I not stop and take a picture of these guys?!
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Much to my surprise and delight, Malibu is just as mountainous as it is beachy. I was thankful to spend more time in the mountains than on the beach.

We visited many more places than I have pictures of — Hollywood Boulevard, Malibu beaches and towns in the mountains. When I left, I was kind of upset that I didn’t get as many pictures as I had planned. But it also reminded me the importance of being in the moment when I’m visiting somewhere new. I was glad to be in the moment every minute I was in Malibu.

Malibu reminded me that humans are really incredible. In the midst of a sucky summer and longing for the start of the school year, it reminded me that relationships are important and can change your attitude completely. I saw the role of a loving community in my friend and the pure joy that comes from it. I’m thankful for the selfless and sincere people that I met in Malibu, and I hope I’ll see them again soon.

For now, I’m reminded that those types of people and communities are everywhere. And knowing that makes things a lot better.

-K

Enough

For high school and college students, it’s summertime. For me, that means catching up on Netflix hits and making a dent in my reading list. Summertime finds me at home or at work. Occasionally it finds me hanging out with some new friends or making a quick trip to Little Rock to see old friends.

For several other of my friends, though, summertime is finding them walking through vineyards in Italy. Or maybe swimming in the Aegean Sea in Greece. For some, their summertime home is on the California coast or in the big city with a killer internship. No matter domestic or abroad, their summertime is dope.

And as excited as I am for these friends and their successes, it sucks a little bit. I love being home, and I love being with my family. I wouldn’t trade that for the world. But I’m not going to lie — seeing what others are up to sucks sometimes.

When you’re spending your summer back in the place where you’ve lived for 19 years doing the same, relatively easy and mundane job you did last summer, it’s easy to slip into the trap of feeling inadequate.

And if there is one word that I think is going to be the summation of summer 2017 for me, that word is inadequate.

I know, too, that I’m not alone. And that helps. I know that this feeling of inadequacy comes in different stages of life, no matter if you’re a student, a recent graduate or retired. It’s easy to feel inadequate when you compare yourself to other people who are doing really cool things.

But the other night I stepped out onto the front porch during a commercial break of The Bachelorette. (Yeah, whatever, judge me. We’re not perfect people). I’ve always loved the sunsets from our front porch. And this wasn’t even the most stunning one that I’ve seen. Honestly, it probably wasn’t even in the top five or 10. But it was the circumstances that made it memorable.

In my feelings of inadequacy, I watched as the clouds and sky, with what seemed the stroke of one giant paint brush, moved from blue to orange to pink and then dark. And I don’t know what it was really, but something in that 20 minutes that I spent outside watching that setting sun told me something.

It felt as if God was telling me where he has me is enough. With that beautiful, everyday feat of nature, it felt like God was telling me that my feelings of inadequacy can be real, but that where he has me is enough.

There’s no doubt that this summer is still going to be hard. It will and it is. But I hope that God keeps sending me those small messages — that this is enough. And I hope next summer or whenever might bring bigger and better plans than I can ever imagine.

But for now, this is enough.

 

 

Commanding crisis communication control

The public relations tactics class at Harding had the unique opportunity to experience crisis communication in action on Wednesday, April 19.

For the last decade or so, officials at Harding University, in partnership with local agencies and organizations, have hosted a disaster drill on campus that tests the university’s and community’s preparedness for such a situation. In past years, drills have involved simulation of a pipe bomb, active shooter and dorm fire.

This year, the simulation tested preparedness for a bus accident carrying 60+ student-athletes in another state. The scene mimicked a car accident with two Harding vans and one Harding bus. Theater students acted as the injured students, nursing students practiced triage work and university officials practiced their readiness.

For our class, we watched from the sidelines as Harding’s Director of News Services Shelby Dias walked us through the communications and marketing office’s response.

The first response

According to Shelby, the first response comes within 30 minutes to an hour of the university’s knowledge of the crisis. The brief statement outlines what police and university officials know at the time. As a note of courtesy and professionalism, sometimes not all information is given due to sensitivity and notice to families. At this time, a script will go out to campus switchboard operators and office managers.

Hannah Owens, Harding’s director of digital media, added that control of the university’s social accounts is crucial in the first moments of the crisis. An email will go out to all social media managers letting them know of the situation and what to do with their social accounts.

The second response

The second response is more involved — more media and more information. Often times, police will give the initial statement due to the sensitivity of the crisis. Harding would give a follow-up statement regarding the university’s response, control and thoughts.

According to Jana Rucker, Harding’s vice president of communications and marketing, the more severe the crisis, the more important Harding’s spokesperson would be.

The basics of Crisis Communication 101

  • Never release information that is unknown or is sensitive (deaths, severe injuries, etc.) until proper channels (family, friends, etc.) have been notified.
  • Law enforcement should be the official source of casualty and injury count.
  • Social accounts related to the organization should be secured, and one account should be releasing information.
  • The crisis doesn’t end when everyone goes home. Be on alert for media and social mentions and develop a plan for restoring things back to normal post-crisis.
  • Control is everything. The more control you have on the message your brand is sending during the crisis, the better it gets handled. You never want to lose control and have multiple messages being dispersed.

 

Photo courtesy of Harding University

United lost control

Unless you’ve had your head buried in the sand for the last week, you probably know that United Airlines is in chest-deep hot water.

On April 10, a passenger aboard United flight 3411 tweeted a video of another passenger being forcibly removed from the flight. The passenger was removed because the flight was overbooked, and no one had volunteered to leave the flight with waivers.

Obviously, that’s bad, bad, bad, bad customer service. But it’s an even worse public relations crisis.

This situation was avoidable. 

This situation should have never gotten out of hand in the first place. When passengers didn’t volunteer to leave the overbooked flight, United employees should have simply kept upping the ante.

Sure, a $1,000 flight voucher might seem a little ridiculous. But it’s sure better than the stock crash and brand crisis they have on their hands now.

Corporate public relations is all about having as much control on the message and brand as possible. United and its employees lost control when they failed to secure voluntary passengers to leave the flight. They surely lost control when security forces had to be called aboard the flight.

A simple employee training could keep employees in the mindset of message and brand control so that the next time a situation such as this arises, employees are prepared to keep control.

No one was aware of the phone video. 

One of the flight crew members should have easily thought how out of hand social sharing of this situation could have gotten. They really should have anticipated that when they saw multiple passengers take out their phones to video.

Again, it’s about control. The employees couldn’t control the passengers’ videoing, but they could have taken control of the situation so that video wasn’t necessary.

Don’t be so cold. 

It’s no doubt that corporations can be seen as cold and stand-offish. United surely lived up to that stereotype in their first statement regarding the situation.

Instead of taking full blame and promising to fix the issue in a short, concise statement, United CEO Oscar Munoz made no appeal to the humanity of the situation. He simply apologized for the “overbook situation.”

Heads up, Oscar! No one cares anymore that the flight was overbooked. They care now about how the passenger was treated. That was clearly the case by the disgust in the remarks from other passengers in the tweeted video.

If a situation goes awry, the corporation or organization must be willing to take full blame. United simply didn’t until a later statement. That hurt them — big time.

In my humble opinion —

Right now, this is the big issue. Rightfully so. However, when this leaves the news cycle, people will still fly United. If someone is presented with a $400 ticket from Delta and a $275 ticket from United, you bet your bottom dollar that passenger is going to fly United. I know I would.

Yes — this has hurt United. No — United won’t go out of business. But they do have some work to do.

The United brand is hurting, and they’re going to need some big BandAids to fix the issue.