Master of my Own PR
When I was crowned Miss Utah at age 18, I thought the next year of my life would be planned for me. I figured that the Miss Utah committee would call their contacts, publicize my purpose and schedule my events. All I would have to do is write my speeches, stay caught up on my current events, sign autographs and look pretty. After the first week of sitting at home and waiting for the magic moment of being Miss Utah to happen … I realized I was going to have to be the master of my own PR. Of course I didn’t understand the entire context of public relations, but I was driven by the fact that I did not want to take a year of college off to do nothing.
My mom and I quickly went to work doing my PR. I drafted a letter that I sent to all 42 school districts and 20 PTAs in Utah telling them I could present to their students on Internet safety. My mom looked up happenings in Utah and personally called all charity organizations and business events. Within days, my business manager was receiving at least two phone calls a day to schedule me to come speak at events. The events consisted of speaking on Internet safety at schools, speaking on how to be successful in the workforce to businesses emoloyees and speaking on a motivational topic at a charity event.
Using Social Media
I soon realized I had to communicate all my activities I was involved in with my fans … meaning my mom and dad of course. I started a blog and sent an email out to all of my contacts telling them to follow my Miss Utah Blog. In a matter of weeks I had over 400 hits on my blog. My blog became my journal for the next year. In retrospect, I realize that I could have used my white space better and posted the pictures to look more appealing, but, I was just a PR specialist in training; I could not be perfect at it from the beginning.
I also used my personal Facebook to entice my friends to either come to an appearance, or to watch me on the news that night. If I was speaking at a location I took the liberty of posting the general idea of my speech, the audience and location. This helped my networking increase exponentially. Every time I posted about a speech I would have at least two people refer me to a prominent person on that subject. This helped me gain other speaking gigs which helped continue my cause – influencing the lives of Utahans.
Understanding Media Apperances
I learned the ins and outs of working with the media the hard way. In my second news interview as Miss Utah I answered a question on live TV in a very nonpolitical way. To my dismay, I received various hate mail and even lost a couple of pageant friends. Although I did not mean for what I said to sound that way, I was mortified to ever speak on live TV again. I eventually picked myself up and decided that was a learning experience and I would never let it happen again. From then on I had speaking points that I always made sure I covered and I thought about what I wanted to say before I said it. I am happy to say that after that expereience I had over 15 interviews on live TV that all went perfectly.
I never guessed that being Miss Utah would involved so much writing! If I was not on the road, speaking or attending an event I was either writing my speech, returning emails, writing my blog, or writing a proposal or media pitch. My favorite proposal I ever wrote landed me in Washington, D.C. lobbying for Internet safety. I had watched the Today Show where Perry Aftab, an Internet lawyer, was talking about the organization she established to help kids from becoming victims to Internet predators, wiredsafety.org. While I was watching, I had a strong desire to join Aftab’s team. That instant I went on the Internet, found her contact information and sent her a proposal letter via email. To my astonishment, within 24 hours I received a phone call from her. By the end of the conversation I was on her team and she was flying me to D.C. in February to lobby for a new Internet safety bill. I realized then where innovation, motivation, hard work and good writing skills could take you.
Meeting Distinguished People
There are many perks of being Miss Utah and one of them is having the chance to meet distinguished people. I was able to meet Governor Hunstman, work with Attorney General Mark Shurtleff and his Internet Crimes Against Children’s Taskforce, make an appearance with the Miss American contestants on the Ellen DeGeneres show, be on a The Miss America Relality TV show with Clinton Kelley a featured guest, and compete in Miss America with Mario Lopez as the host.
I never realized the preparation being Miss Utah would give me for my work in public relations. I am very grateful to have had that experience and will value all the lessons I learned the experiences I had.
Videos of Kayla during tenure as Miss Utah 2008
Below are videos that my pageant director and I filmed for TLC as a precursor to the reality show. They sent all the contestants a flip camera, we recorded ourselves answering various questions, mailed it back and they posted them on Youtube.