All posts by Avery Connections

I'm Karen Avery, a Midwest public relations practitioner who enjoys life, adventure, and good times with friends and family. My greatest adventure to date is skydiving! I love writing about things/people that inspire me and humor me. I may from time to time also write about what's going on in the business. Thanks for stopping by. Please come back soon!

Why IUPUI School of Journalism Students Should Take #J560 Online Public Relations

I really believe J560 Online Public Relations through the IUPUI School of Journalism should move from an elective status to being a required class.

This class is for all students, even those who think they have mastered social media because they are already active on multiple platforms. I was one of those students and realized halfway into the semester that I really did not know it all. I still don’t, but realize we should always be students, even after graduation.

Being a lifelong student is critical to keeping up with the ever changing world of online public relations. So here is what you can learn over 12 weeks in 12 simple statements:

  1. It’s the best environment for learning how to brand oneself in the age of social media.
  2. If you don’t know your personal brand, this class will bring you many steps closer to figuring that out.
  3. It will challenge you to step up your social media game in a real world environment.
  4. You will learn how to have meaningful online conversations with people you don’t know.
  5. You will learn that video is king and needs to be a regular part of your social media posting schedule to increase your influence online.
  6. You will learn how to integrate many different social mphoto (1)edia platforms into your personal branding experience.
  7. You will be a huge step ahead of your peers who have not taken this class.
  8. You will have created some new professional habits that you will want to integrate into your daily life going forward.
  9. You will groan at the social media postings quota at the beginning of the semester, but be excited to keep up the schedule when the class is complete.
  10. You will increase your social media clout. Be sure to sign up at at the beginning of the semester to begin measuring your social media influence. Karen's Klout score image
  11. You will learn why Google Plus is becoming the “it girl” and how it is important to your personal branding adventure.
  12. You will have a great time and meet some great people along the way!

A get-in-your-face public relations strategy that works

I love a good success story, especially when the story comes from my own experiences.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, I work for a membership-based association. Over the past couple of years I have been contemplating ways to inspire engagement among our less active members.

As I noted in my blog post, The value of face-to-face meetings: They never grow old, I have been studying participation data from things like member surveys, event attendance, etc., and have been integrating the findings into the overall public relations plan for my association.

gomer pyleLast year I studied participation data for a very important survey that a certain segment of our membership (we’ll call them Group A) uses to plan their budgets. The problem has been that Group A must rely on another segment of our membership (we’ll call them Group B) to complete this survey. In that previous blog post I mentioned, we used our spring district travel season to visit those Group B members who had not been filling out the survey from year-to-year. And those visits worked because some of those Group B members did end up filling out the survey.

Fast forward one year later.

We are in the midst of spring district travel season again, and I analyzed a similar set of engagement data. This year we specifically were looking for members that have not routinely attended association events. Once again we are in the process of visiting those members as we head to our district meetings (we have six district meetings in which we provide association updates and hold officer elections).

Guess what happened? Some members who had not previously registered for those district meetings showed up at the meeting after we dropped by their offices on the way to the meeting. Face-to-face really does work!



A kindergartner’s guide to public relations

I’m about to finish my master’s degree in public relations from Indiana University (I say that proudly despite what follows in this post). But, I often wonder that perhaps I could learn all I need to know if I could just go back to kindergarten for one day.

Never hog the toys

When I was in kindergarten we had a rule: whoever got to a toy first during play time got to play with it. Sure, our parents taught us to share everything but in kindergarten that was NOT the rule. It was every child for themselves.

This is welcome to kindergarten graphic
Courtesy of Google images

I do remember being traumatized when a girl named Deanna W. framed me and said she arrived at the play kitchen first when, in fact, I arrived first. The incident led me to a very embarrassing visit to the principal’s office (for the record that was the ONLY principal’s office visit during my entire academic career).

What I learned from that experience was invaluable: No one likes a bully. You see, Deanna W. wanted the play kitchen all to herself, and that is what she got. No one wanted to be with her. She hogged the toys but she did not make friends. As a wise PR professor of mine once said, “choose people over stuff.”

When you are planning a public relations campaign, especially if it involves crisis management, the needs of people should outrank your organization’s concerns over profit. Never forget the lessons of Deanna W. who chose stuff over people.

Who knew you could be your own show-and-tell

When I was in kindergarten I broke my collar bone. Because I was in kindergarten during an ancient time in medicine they put a cast on me that was like a shirt vest. When I went back to class, with the cast beneath my shirt, my teacher said I should be my own show-and-tell object. At 5-years-old I was quite shy, and remember being mortified about the prospect. What followed was even more embarrassing. My teacher had each student line up and one-by-one each kid in the class was allowed to come and knock on my cast, which meant they were knocking on my chest.

The PR lesson here: Never exploit people even if it seems like a good idea at the time. Just don’t do it.

How to know when to say ‘yes’ and when to say ‘no’

Perhaps you are like me in that you quickly seize good opportunities that come your way. Props to you if you do! If, however, you find yourself somewhat indecisive about whether to say ‘yes’ or to say ‘no’ when opportunities arise, this post is for you.

This is an image of yes man movieI have taken on a number of new roles lately and to the casual observer it may seem a little excessive. Yes, I have a very busy full-time job as a public relations director. Yes, I’m a PR graduate student. Yes, I am now a foundation board trustee, and, yes, I’m a part-time executive director of an association that has partnered with my primary employer, a membership association with a related group of members. I have said ‘yes’ a lot lately but I’m a big believer in saying ‘no’ when the opportunities do not fit in a framework of deliberately planned objectives.

Why, yes, to so many things at once? It’s really a matter of thinking long-term. Will saying ‘yes’ to this opportunity fulfill an important personal or professional goal? Will saying ‘no’ prevent future opportunities from coming my way? Will saying ‘yes’ challenge me enough to make it worth my time? Will saying ‘no’ prevent me from networking with people who could help further me along with my future objectives? This is a picture of dice with yes no maybe on sides

Perhaps an even more important question is this: Do I see myself developing a passion for the work with which I would be involved? If your answer is a definitive ‘no’, say ‘no thank you’ and move on.

While this is not a simple check list I hope I have provided some questions to get you moving in the right direction. Go now and seize the moment!



Four reasons you should volunteer in your community

Over the last several years I have had many occasions to serve in some kind of volunteer capacity, some using my public relations skills and others that involved just a listening ear or hands-on work. Giving back to your community is just a good thing to do but if you need some reasons, here you go:



  1. Your life will be enriched by new friends. Several years ago I volunteered my public relations skills to help raise money and increase volunteers for a soup kitchen in my community. There were a lot of late working nights, and sleepless nights as we sweated through all the details to ensure the success of our campaign. We did see success but the biggest payoff for me was the development of really good friends who I cannot imagine not having in my life.
  2. You may gain valuable work experience. That same soup kitchen campaign gave me hands-on experience planning and implementing a public relations campaign that saw much success with not only earned media placement, but also exceeding our fundraising goal. It was great for the resume.
  3. You just might change someone’s life for the good. I have volunteered as a youth mentor for various organizations over the years, and there is nothing more rewarding than seeing a young person find inspiration to be the best they can be.
  4. You will be a better person. Following the public relations work for the soup kitchen I decided to do some hands-on work for the organization and volunteered to cook and serve. Over the course of the next year I ended up getting more than I gave. I met people who I never would have been exposed to had I not spent time in the kitchen. I also learned that I’m not “all that.” I never considered myself a prideful person but deep down I did see myself a little farther up the food chain than the patrons who frequented the soup kitchen. During that year, I realized how much I had to learn from the people we served.

One final thought about volunteering: It’s important to try out different organizations and give yourself freedom to fail. I’m not saying you should do shoddy work or skip around to different organizations every week. What I mean is that you should give yourself freedom to step down from your volunteer role if you have given all you can give. Remember that there is a season for everything, and this includes both work and rest.

Is there a connection between dementia and post-anesthesia confusion?

For this week’s post I am departing from the norm and am writing about what’s consumed my thinking this week: my dad’s crazy health scare. If you are looking for a communication connection, please hang with me until the end. You’ll be glad you did. Alzheimers Concept Horizontal

The emotional roller coaster began eight days ago when my 75-year-old dad woke up from a routine surgery in a confused and agitated state. I know this can be normal for some people and had happened to a lesser degree with my dad during a previous procedure. I’m not looking for comfort or reassurance. What I am looking for, however, is some kind of connection. My mind typically wanders into exploring connections between all kinds of ideas, oddities, etc., and perhaps doing so brings me comfort.

Anyway, as the week progressed my dad was in and out of a confused state, at times thinking the hospital was an apartment building where he and mom were looking to move. At other times dad was having angry conversations with people, some he had known and some who were total strangers. During one of his more lucid moments this week he said he knew everything going on in reality but was also having “crazy dreams” about people who had been dead for many years. He slept very little this week so these were not sleeping “dreams.”

The scary part is that my dad sounded just like his dad did when he had been suffering from severe dementia for many years. The interesting part, to me, is how he could remember being simultaneously in both worlds: reality and the visions. Since his symptoms mimic dementia, I have cause to wonder how much people who have suffered for years with dementia understand about their present reality. Perhaps they understand more than we think but just can’t communicate what they understand. What makes me sad is how many dementia and Alzheimer’s patients are ignored in nursing homes, or at home by frustrated family members.

I asked my mom to write down everything. Who knows? Maybe my dad’s situation and others who have dealt with post-anesthesia confusion could be used to help better understand dementia.

Amazing breakthrough with Alzheimer's patient
Amazing breakthrough with Alzheimer’s patient

It is situations like dad’s and the lady in this amazing video that show me the importance of keeping the communication flowing with family members suffering from this terrible disease.

Top Ten Reasons to get a Pinterest account

  1. You love bulletin boards but don’t exactly want a gazillion pins in your walls.
  2. It has pretty pictures.
  3. You can revolutionize the way you cook.
  4. Finding your tried and true recipes is just a couple of clicks away. Pinterest Cooking light board

5. Not sure if you have the ingredients for that tried and true recipe? Simply open your phone’s Pinterest app at the grocery store!


6. You can learn how to dress properly.


7. Pinning is more productive than seeing who produced with who in the grocery store line.


8. You can pin all kinds of great remodeling projects that you know will never happen in your house.

Pinterest remodeling

9. You can show your husband all of your pipe dream projects, and then say, “But, honey, all I really want is this wall painted before we are too old to enjoy it.” He will surely make it happen then!

10. And finally, it’s yet another place to show off your skydive video!