Reverse Mentoring: Should your Client Utilize Tik Tok?

Reverse Mentoring: Should your Client Utilize Tik Tok?

By Anna Nelson (Washington State University)

TikTok is the up-and-coming social media platform, taking the digital world by storm. If you are involved with the app, you know that it centers around dancing, humor and how-to videos. I was hesitant to download TikTok myself, for fears of it becoming distracting. Nonetheless, I downloaded and dove into the world of TikTok to determine: is this a platform your client should be utilizing? First, let’s discuss its pros and cons followed by a how-to to navigate the app.


Using any social media platform can come with a lot of positives for your clients, but a few are highlighted by using TikTok specifically.


Having your client utilize TikTok is a great way to get more exposure. As a fairly new and popular platform, many TikTok stars claim it is relatively easy to become famous on TikTok, making it a good potential opportunity for a client. @Jera.bean posted a TikTok explaining how she gained over 10K followers in a month — she currently has 403.1K followers and 4.2 million likes. She explained the most important steps to achieving TikTok fame were: finding a niche — posting content that is consistent and similar, staying trendy — using popular music and following challenges and hashtags, trying new content — pushing your own boundaries outside of your regular content, posting everyday — at least once a day, but up to three times a day and being interactive – replying to comments by your followers and interacting with them.

Fast and Easy

It is moderately easy to create content for TikTok. All you need is a smartphone and a basic understanding of social media, such as hashtags. With multiple options for video creation, such as using a photo compilation, uploading a video or recording a short video with the app’s camera, you can have content uploaded in as little as a few minutes, as long as you have an idea ready.


TikTok’s general audience is the younger generations, so if your client is trying to reach the millennial, Gen Z and Gen Alpha audiences, this is a great platform to utilize. According to Statista, 37.2% of U.S. users are ages 10-19; 26.3% of U.S. users are between the ages of 20 and 29; and 16.7% of U.S. users are ages 30 to 39. Quora cites that the most popular categories on TikTok are food, humor, travel and celebrity and entertainment, so if your client has any overlap in any of these categories, it could be a good option for them.


The cons of TikTok are similar to the cons of all other social media platforms, so being overly critical of TikTok might not be completely fair, because it shares concerns of other popular social media sites. However, it is important to recognize the potential downsides of the app.


The app is incredibly fast-moving and viewers can swipe up in a second if they are not immediately entertained by your video, making it potentially difficult to generate a following.


Users of TikTok can be as young as 13, but even though the app requires users to disclose their age, this does not mean that there are not still users younger than 13 on the app. Although there are young users on virtually any application or platform, advertising to a young and impressionable audience brings up some questions of ethics. Additionally, there is plenty of bullying generated through the app, which I witnessed myself with videos that made fun of individuals with developmental disabilities. It is a platform that enables intolerable behavior. Lastly, like other platforms, it is relatively simple for other users to copy your content without citation, presenting potential issues for your client.


Logging into the digital world will always compromise some aspects of your privacy in one way or another. However, TikTok is owned by ByteDance, located in Beijing, China, which results in different data protection and privacy laws. In fact, according to the Washington Post, in early 2019, TikTok was fined for illegally collecting email addresses, locations, names and pictures of children under 13 years of age. It is possible that TikTok continues to data mine information from its users.

Navigating the app

When you download the app, you will be taken to a screen that gives you categories you want to follow, like Pinterest or Reddit. I chose typical categories, including Humor, Food, Travel, Beauty, Health and Wellness and Animals.

The home screen takes you through video after video, similar to how Facebook Watch works. From each video that pops up, you can view the creator’s profile, “heart” (like) the video, view and/or post comments and view the music/audio used in the video — this button will also show you other videos that use the same audio. To change videos, you simply swipe upward.  

The “discover” tab allows you to look at what is trending today through hashtags and view the videos from those categories. Many trending categories include the TikTok challenges that you have likely seen leak into other social media platforms, such as “#tiktokprom,” “#bedroomcheck,” “#poseathome” or “#yearbook2020.”

The inbox works like any other platform’s direct messaging option, which displays any messages you have.

The “Me” section contains your own profile, similar to Instagram, where the videos you upload yourself appear and allows you to view the videos you have liked (only you can view the videos you have liked). Your username is displayed with your profile picture, along with your number of followers, the number of people you are following and the amount of likes you have. You can add a short profile bio, like Instagram’s.

Making a profile and uploading content

Making a profile is similar to any other platform, you simply need a username and login information. Once that is established, it is up to you if you want to embellish your profile with a bio and a profile picture – if you want to be successful on TikTok, you should develop these pieces. Next, to upload content, you will need to press the plus sign in the center of the menu console on the app (it looks just like how you would upload a picture to Instagram).

There are different templates you can choose from, comparable to filters, but for video. Some of these template options include: “Morph,” “Photo Flow,” “Double Exposure,” “Countdown,” and “Beatdrop.” For these templates, you select photos that you would like to use to fill the template. You can also choose to make a video that is either 60 seconds or 15 seconds. The TikTok camera has different camera options, comparable to Snapchat, such as: camera flip, speed (slow motion or sped up), beauty mode, filters, a timer and flash. You can also choose to upload a video instead of making one through the TikTok camera.

TikTok also has a donations option, through a partnership with Tiltify. This allows content creators to request donations from their videos and viewers to donate to a selected charity. During my time on TikTok, I saw fundraising for No Kid Hungry, Centers for Disease Control and the National Parent Teacher Association. TikTok was matching donations made to certain organizations, such as the ones listed above, up to $10 million through May 27.

The Takeaway

So, should your client be utilizing TikTok? As with most strategic planning, it is completely dependent on what your client does. If they are a company that dabbles in food, fitness, travel, music, entertainment or any other relevant categories, I would say give it a go. Or if your client’s target demographic is the millennial or younger, TikTok is a great app for widespread reach.

If your client’s work resides in more technical areas, it is probably not worth putting time into the app. If your client is already using Instagram and seeing general success on that platform, it is likely that they will have success on TikTok because the platforms share many similarities. Serving as your client’s PR professional, guide them through the pros and cons of using TikTok to determine if it is the right fit for them.

If your client already has a social media team, whether through your agency or in-house, it can never hurt to get a little bit of additional exposure, so it is probably worth the download; if it is not seeing success, then it is best to delegate that time in other platforms.


A Personal Message From President Brad: Join him in his pledge

A Personal Message From President Brad: Join him in his pledge

A Personal Message From President Brad: Join him in his pledgeThis is a personal statement from Brad Hilliard, APR. Brad is the current President of the PRSA Oregon chapter. He is making a personal pledge and asking fellow communications professionals to join him.


2020 PRSA National Chair, T. Garland Stansell, APR, recently provided a heartfelt commentary to members on the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. He, like many of us, realize our reactions to these horrible events are not enough. It is time for all of us to pause and reflect on how we can create equality in our current world.

As I considered these recent tragedies, I realized something that struck me deeply. Creating equality starts by identifying the source of the problem.

It is easy to say, “I’m not racist.”

It is easy to be disgusted by the images we have seen recently. It is easy to point fingers and scream injustice. It is easy to get on social media, get mad at viewpoints we do not agree with, and use these platforms to express our own opinions.

It is easy to say what we have to say and return to our regularly scheduled lives.

Unfortunately, easy is part of the problem. These easy routes help us process the anger, frustration, or grief we are feeling in that moment, but it does not generate change. It does not create equality. All it creates is a society that is quick to speak, quick to judge, and slow to listen.

George Floyd’s unnecessary death has opened my eyes. I am ashamed to admit that it took this much for me to truly see how deep the roots of inequality run in every corner of the world. His death has revealed that we will not realize true equality until we look inward and admit, “I am the problem.”

We may not be racist, but we have biases. Some are so ingrained in our DNA that we do not even realize it.

We may not disrespect people for the way they look or think, but we rarely engage people if they make us uncomfortable.

We may act on causes we are passionate about, but we rarely help others when we do not see or relate to their plight.

Currently, I am a foster dad to a toddler. He is a black boy. George Floyd’s tragic experience has caused me to look at this little guy and wonder what it will take for him to enjoy the freedom, stability, and privilege that I have experienced.

I will not be the problem any longer. I will not take the easy path. I am making a pledge, and I am asking others to join me. I believe this pledge is for anyone ready to make a commitment to equality. This pledge is important for communications professionals and leaders because we are in a position to influence the change necessary for all of us to experience equality.

I encourage you to read the pledge, reflect on your personal beliefs, and commit to no longer taking the easy path. Commit to not be the problem any longer. My hope is that many of you will join me in the pledge. Especially those with a voice to make a difference.

The pledge to create equality

  • I pledge to do more than promote diversity, equity, and inclusion. I pledge to embody it and use my role to create an environment where all voices are heard and everyone is respected.
  • I pledge to engage others in meaningful conversation, to personally learn and grow from their experiences and wisdom. Especially those with different backgrounds and experiences than me.
  • I pledge to empower my organization’s leaders to be honest with people, engage in the needs of our communities, and listen to people. Especially those without a voice.
  • I pledge to not be complacent. I will actively use my influence to help my community. Especially those with different backgrounds than me.

That is my pledge. It is easy to say, but takes a daily commitment to stop being the problem, and help us all realize equality. My hope is that you will join me in this pledge.

To join this pledge, sign this petition and share it with family, friends, and coworkers. From there, the day-to-day commitment begins.

This is the first step – to look inward and understand we are the problem. From there we can finally begin to stand together.

Have a blessed day,


Brad Hilliard, APR

June 1, 2020

Reverse Mentoring: Learn from PRSSA!

Reverse Mentoring: Learn from PRSSA!Whether you’ve been in the industry for years or have just started your professional journey, we all could use fresh perspectives, a new lens or diverse ideas to become a more complete practitioner. What better way to tap into all three than to harken back to your time in the college classroom. Remember it? That time where you could just think, uninterrupted? Well we’re happy to take you back. Follow our PRSSA members across the state as they share new perspectives with our “Reverse Mentoring Series.” That’s right, you’ve mentored so much, so now, sit back in your proverbial lecture-hall chair and listen. These tips might give you just the refresh you need.
As part of our Reverse Mentoring Series we’ll tackle one topical buzzword each month. For June, it’s sustainability. 
Many of us question whether sustainability initiatives will change as a result of COVID-19. We’ve also questioned whether social distancing, virtual connection, working from home, wearing masks are all sustainable. It’s a noun that can take on many different meanings. For Lucy Thompson, a junior at the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University Vancouver, sustainability is about stamina. Listen as she shares tips to “sustaining” your stamina in the workplace.
PRSA Oregon Partner Mac's List Offers COVID-19 Resources

PRSA Oregon Partner Mac’s List Offers COVID-19 Resources

Missing Kerry Dugan

Missing Kerry DuganWith sadness, we share that former PRSA Oregon member and longtime PR colleague Kerry Dugan died earlier this month of brain cancer/glioblastoma, at the age of 60.

Many in our community remember Kerry. Practitioner Paulette Peynet, CFRE, shared her memory, “Kerry’s mastery of public relations was superior. But, more, Kerry was a treasured colleague. He helped many people, from newcomers to seasoned practitioners. He helped our local PRSA chapter. He absolutely advanced our public relations profession as a management discipline.”

Dianne Danowski Smith, APR, Fellow PRSA said, “I knew Kerry well and am so very sorry our community has lost his light. He and I served on the PRSA PDX board together in the mid-90s, co-conducted job search workshops together in 1997-’98 for the chapter, won a Spotlight together in 2000, and then I hired him and his firm, Dugan Strategic Marketing, to work with me on two major clients from 2010 to 2017.” She added that he made a strong impression on those who knew him and was already ready to help whenever needed.

Said David Thompson, APR, “Kerry was one of the nicest, most helpful people I’ve met in the PR industry. He always had a smile and an encouraging word. He inspired me—and I’m sure many others.”

Kerry had quite a successful and multifaceted career. Early in his PR career (after modeling in NYC), he directed regional marketing for Ringling Bros./Barnum & Bailey Circus, Walt Disney on Ice, and Evergreen International Aviation. In the 1980s, Kerry learned the ropes from his mother, Mary Dugan, who was legendary in advertising. Kerry had memberships and provided board leadership to both the PRSA PDX board and the Portland Advertising Federation. In the ‘90s, he served in the City of Portland’s Emergency Management Bureau and ran for Multnomah County Commissioner in 2004. He eventually founded two agencies: Dugan Inc. Advertising and Public Relations, and most recently, Dugan Strategic Marketing.

His community outreach voluntarism was also legendary, serving in key roles for American Red Cross, MacDonald Residence/Assisted Living, Columbia River Correctional Institution, Multnomah County foster child camps, Meals on Wheels, and at Hiteon Elementary in art literacy.

Peynet added, “Those who knew Kerry will remember his stunning work on our PRSA board. He was a leader in every PRSA program: speaker recruitment, conference, professional development, Spotlight Awards, mentoring. I saw him often at UO’s portfolio reviews, meeting one-to-one with an appreciative PR student.”

She continued, “For those who knew Kerry, they will remember his precise expertise, his long list of achievements and, most of all: his humanity. Our Oregon chapter is fortunate to have had legends like Bill Marsh, John Pihas, Barbara Stallcup Miller. Add Kerry Dugan to the list of Oregon public relations treasures.”

If you knew Kerry and would like to share your remembrances with the family, email [email protected].

Breaking Down the PESO Model

Breaking Down the PESO ModelContributed by PRSA Oregon partner Allen Hall PR,
University of Oregon



The PESO model is a visual representation of the four types of media combined for a successful PR campaign. The model was created by Gini Dietrich who founded and co-authors the blog Spin Sucks and has years of communications industry wisdom under her belt. PESO stands for Paid, Earned, Shared and Owned Media. Each type of media is important to build brand awareness and see results. If all four types of media are created and maintained successfully, according to Dietrich, “it can help you establish authority… [which] means you’re a thought leader.”

Paid media refers to the sponsored content seen online, social media ads and other digital marketing options. This option does not have to break the bank. Set aside a small budget and choose to sponsor a piece of content that represents the brand well. Test out what content works well for your brand and what doesn’t. Eventually, trends will start to show about what is effective, and then more money can be confidently put into these advertisements. 

Earned media is the traditional media relations that the PR world has been doing for decades. Getting your brand’s name in print from a third-party source is obviously still an excellent way to build credibility for your brand. With the ever-growing communications field and the dwindling number of journalists, building and maintaining relationships with the press is crucial to success in earned media. 

Shared media (which some people combine with owned media) is social media. This is the content that is going on all the brand’s social platforms. To be successful, content needs to be creative, authentic and posted regularly. Brands need to be active on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest for starters, be a part of conversations about the industry the brand works in and have a clear and developed brand voice that makes content stand out. Right now on Instagram especially, but also Facebook and Snapchat, stories are where users spend a lot of their time on the apps. Therefore, brands need to be creating content every day that can be added to the brand’s story. Make it interactive with a poll or a question to get users more engaged. Make sure to follow trends and work out how the brand’s voice can contribute to them.

Owned media is content that the brand produces itself. A lot of this media likely resides on the brand’s website. These are things like a blog, a podcast, photo series, stories written by people from the brand, and any other content created in-house that is not on social media. Owned media is where the brand has the most freedom to tell its own story. However, the other three types of media are essential for creating credibility. 

Intersections of Journalism and PR

Intersections of Journalism and PR

Contributed by PRSA Oregon partner
Allen Hall PR,
University of Oregon



Public relations professionals come from a variety of backgrounds with an array of expertise. A common background for those currently working in PR often begins with journalism. The two fields have similar core characteristics that make the skills learned in a journalism career easily transferable to the PR world and vice versa. The following are a few of the many components journalism and public relations have in common. 


PR and journalism deal directly with communication. They also share a common audience – the public. It is the job of the PR representative as well as the journalist to serve as a public informant with pertinent information. The entire idea behind the two professions is that the public can look to these people and know they are going to be kept up to date with the news occurring around them. Whether it is an article in the local newspaper or a press release from Google, PR professionals and journalists alike are constantly sharing information with the public. 


Pitching is one of the biggest components when it comes to PR and journalism. Both professions call for the sharing of ideas and this is generally when PR professionals and journalists will interact the most. In PR, most pitching is done to the media, meaning PR professionals must convince journalists that a story pertaining to their brand is good enough to be shared with the public and categorized as newsworthy. In journalism, it comes down to pitching stories to an editor and convincing them that the story is worth letting the public know about. Being able to pitch a story and have it get picked up by a journalist or the media outlet itself is a strong skill that is constantly used in both professions. 


PR and journalism are fields in which the professional tells a story. On one hand, the PR representative is telling the story of a brand while journalists are telling the story of the people. PR generally tells that story to the public in the form of campaigns and products while journalists will use media as the primary source of communication. PR storytelling is more end goal-focused while journalism deals less with strategic communication. In the end, the core characteristic remains the same. Both professions call for storytelling as a vital skill that is at the heart of communication. 


In both PR and journalism, trust is essential. Trust between the communicator and the public is crucial for PR and journalism to survive – it is also one of the most important components in each profession’s code of ethics. In PR you must have the trust of the public in order to maintain a mutually beneficial relationship. In journalism, you must operate as a non-bias “watchdog” in order to share facts and truth with your audience. If there is ever a mistake or mix-up, professionals in both fields are expected to come forward and state their wrong because, without transparency, both professions would lose vital audience trust. 

Industry Influence: What’s On the Rise in Communications

Industry Influence: What’s On the Rise in CommunicationsContributed by PRSA Oregon partner Allen Hall PR,
University of Oregon



We all know that fast pace and change defines the communications industry. Success means keeping up on the trends and new practices, self-teaching, observing peers in the field, and some failed attempts along the way. When falling behind can mean clients choose to use others’ services, staying on top of the best messaging strategies is important to us all. Here are some of the top trends PR professionals and professors say have shaped our industry the most in recent years:

More Tech

Tech continuously changes the way we disseminate information. The medium with the most recent spike in popularity is podcasts. (Check out PRSA Oregon’s affiliated podcast, PR Talk HERE) People who understand how to make successful audio media will stand out to their employers and clients. Video has also been on the forefront of brand storytelling for a while and does not appear to be going anywhere. Video can be a powerful tool, but the path to an impactful video is strategic and requires time. “PRSay” has a great blog post on the video storytelling process.

Fewer Journalists

Most of us have heard by now that there are between five and 10 communications professionals for every journalist in this country. Kelli Matthews, the director of the public relations sequence in the School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon, says this “makes media relations and earning coverage increasingly difficult.” According to Matthews, if you are not doing your research into journalists and the beats they cover, then you are not going to get coverage. Doing this properly can take a significant amount of time to understand the reporter, the topics they cover, and how your client can fit into it. The long process and hard work will be worth it when you can show your clients the earned media you received. 

Industry Influence: What’s On the Rise in Communications

Photo by Nik MacMillan on Unsplash

Spread of Disinformation

Conspiracy theories and false information pose a threat to everyone in the public sphere. This spread of disinformation is causing rifts in all types of relationships. Google’s VP of Global Communications and Public Affairs Corey duBrowa says this is the biggest change and issue in our industry. We all have our own beliefs and opinions, but we have started to only consume information that supports these beliefs and opinions. “It has moved all of us so much further inside our self-created ‘bubbles’,” says duBrowa. “I worry that we only consume what we already think and believe, and we aren’t listening to one another anymore.” If disinformation is not addressed, it will impact much more than our political process. Companies can be the target of disinformation campaigns, and we as communications professionals need to be ready to combat crises that may impact our clients. 


Similarly, there is a rising trend of consumers choosing products based on brand values. More often we are seeing people boycotting brands when the brand has different values than they do or does not act by the values that they claim to have. A recent example is the backlash Chick-fil-A received when they announced they would stop donating to anti-LGBTQ charities. Conservatives felt that Chick-fil-A had abandoned their shared values, while liberals believed the change was made only to raise profits. In 2018, Marketing Dive reported on an Accenture study which found that 63 percent of global consumers preferred to purchase from purpose-driven brands. According to Matthews, “values-based and purpose-driven brands are the winners when it comes to building relationships with publics.” The brands that can communicate with the public about their mission in a genuine way will be able to curate lasting relationships with their consumers. 




PRSA Oregon’s tale of three cities

PRSA Oregon’s tale of three cities

Like the flavor-packed middle of a Bunk sandwich – a PDX favorite – bookended by two prominent flavors of their own, the robust market of Portland is flanked by our state legislature in Salem to the south and by a burgeoning waterfront in Vancouver to the north. As a statewide chapter, our PRSA members span the mid-valley and extend beyond the Columbia River, throughout Fisher’s Landing and Shumway and Felida neighborhoods.

Whether you are one of our 232 chapter members who toil in our Silicon Forest; as part of our recreational, sports and apparel industries; in our health care sector; or even among our big agricultural secret: hazelnuts, you have a community in and outside of Portland proper.

Keep an eye out for upcoming events hosted throughout Salem/mid-valley and Vancouver/SW Washington and for a monthly feature series highlighting the great work throughout Oregon and SW Washington in 2020.

Here’s to our neighbors to the south and to our neighbors to the north. Happy 2020!

All the best,

Liz and Jolene, regional co-chairs, SW Washington and Salem/mid-valley