By Talia Smith
It’s the PR major’s dream to snag a big-name internship over the summer, plop it on your resume in the fall and have a dream job nailed down by the time your graduate; it doesn’t always work out that way. Some of us spend the summer taking classes, traveling or working. There’s nothing wrong with that, and in fact, there are still plenty of ways to keep building upon your résumé and portfolio if interning does not fit into your summer plans. Here are some options to consider:
Create Your Own Blog
Writing consistently over the summer is a great way to practice discipline. If you can give yourself deadlines to meet, then not only will you improve your writing but you will end up with at least one solid piece to add to a portfolio. Employers like to hear that you write for pleasure because it’s an indication writing is more than a just requirement but it’s also something you are passionate about.
A few summers ago, I wrote a travel blog when I took a cross-country trip. I mentioned it in a cover letter which was later brought up in an interview. Mentioning my travel blog opened up a conversation which would not have otherwise been brought up in an interview, and the more conversational you can make an interview the better!
After creating a collection of samples from your blog, you can take your writing a step further and try freelance writing. There’s a bit more effort required for writing freelance, some trial, and error, but after all of the hard work you could end up with a published piece of writing that will hold weight in your portfolio.
First take a look at the writing opportunities offered on campus. There’s the Emerald, Spoon University, and Her Campus, to name a few. If you’re looking to make a little bit of cash, you could check out a freelance writing aggregator website which will post opportunities. If you have an idea for an article, you could approach a local publication and pitch them an idea. They might want you to write the story and often appreciate articles from a college student perspective.
Manage a Social Media Account
Do you have a family member with a small business? A friend who is an aspiring musician? Or are you a volunteer somewhere that is lacking an online presence? Offer to create or manage a social media account over the summer and see how many followers you can gain. Coordinating social media for someone will provide you with quantitative results to add to your resume and you can include the screen grabs in your portfolio. That’s a summer side hustle well spent!
Volunteer Design Skills
Do you have an eye for graphic design? There are plenty of nonprofits that could use your help designing flyers, brochures, posters, social media graphics and more. Whether you have access to Adobe InDesign or use the “freemium” design website, Canva, you can really make a difference to a local charity or fundraising event by offering your skills. At the end of the event, you’ll have a spread of pieces to add to your portfolio.
If an internship is not in the cards this summer, there are still plenty of opportunities to contribute to your portfolio and expand your resume. Each of these suggestions requires self-initiative which future employers will appreciate. While you’re hitting the books, traveling abroad or working at the pool this summer, see if you can arrange one of these side projects to keep adding to your repertoire of communication skills.
By Erica Freeze
Planning is essential to designing an effective public relations program. Planning in public relations involves researching, understanding a problem, and implementing a program to solve this problem. Adequate planning will determine if a public relations campaign will be a success or a failure. Because of this, it is important to know how to plan before starting a project both in school and in a public relations career. Here are some tips on how to plan appropriately for your next project:
Break down the elements: Public relations plans are broken down into four main elements: analysis, strategic research, implementation, and evaluation. A situation is a set of circumstances facing an organization. Without defining and analyzing a situation, it will be impossible to complete efficient research or to define the goal of a communications program later in the process. Research helps practitioners define a problem and think strategically. It is important to look at the bigger picture while analyzing and researching a situation. A situation analysis must factor in all parties, including stakeholders, teammates and the organization itself. It is important to accept the feedback of these parties so that a campaign team can predict and establish a goal. Once this feedback and research are outlined with an end date and goal in mind, the plan can be implemented.
Include all parties in decision making: Any public relations professional must be prepared to overcome any obstacles that occur during the implementation of a strategic plan. If a plan is implemented and there were disagreements on objectives, the plan may not satisfy the end goal. If there is an absence of feedback from an account manager, as well as any vital departments and stakeholders, important information and opinion may be forgotten. It is important for public relations professionals to be aware of any obstacles before they happen so that they can be fixed in a timely manner.
Determine success: How will you measure the success of your plan? Just as an organization’s goals and objectives change over time, the performance metrics that your team uses to track progress should also change. Metrics can show not only where the company is succeeding but also highlight specific areas of weakness. As data accumulates, the matrix can display trends and identify places which need improvement. There are tools such as Google Analytics which measure website or social media interactions, and then there are more advanced services, such as CyberAlert, which displays analytics for earned, owned and social media. Depending on the organization you work for, learning how to understand analytics tools is crucial to understanding the ways in which your company is falling short and succeeding.
Public relations is a constantly changing field. It is important to keep on top of the latest consumer trends and to have a thorough understanding of all parties that will be affected by a campaign. In order to launch a campaign, a strategic plan must be created. The capability to think strategically is what helps adequate public practitioners become strategic planners. Without a strategic plan in place, a campaign will fail because of a lack of understanding of a final goal. What are some ways you have found planning useful in your projects?
By Erica Freeze
It is that time of year again, the season of travel! As the holidays quickly approach, many of us are eager to travel the world during winter break. If you are someone who loves to travel, don’t rule out one aspect of public relations that is less spoken of- travel and tourism public relations. Travel public relations’ role typically consists of three major tasks: stimulating the public’s desire to visit a place, arranging for travelers to get to their destination, and ensuring a comfortable stay for visitors once they arrive. While the aspect of traveling in this field may sound appealing, keep in mind that this is only a small part of the job. In any public relations career, you must be on top of the latest trends and news and be ready to tackle any crises professionally. If this sounds like something you may be interested in, here are some tips to see if this is the right career path for you:
Have an industry mindset:
As previously stated, keep in mind that working as a PR professional in the travel industry requires more than just a love for travel. Ask yourself: Am I genuinely interested in the travel industry?
Do I enjoy reading articles about travel trends? Following travel blogs? Am I aware of successful travel campaigns?
Am I prepared for crisis management involving the safety of travelers?
If you answered yes to more than one of these questions, then travel public relations could be your forte.
Get ready to pitch:
The public relations industry relies on publications to get the word out about the clients they represent. In travel public relations this is the same. Many travel public relations firms use bloggers and magazines to promote the services their clients provide. Getting a blogger to agree to post about any of your clients can be a challenge, however, there are certain ways to go about pitching that will help you be successful.
Often bloggers will provide guidelines on how best to pitch to a particular publication. These tips are important to read and adhere to and can create more success for your client.
Also keep in mind that bloggers and all publications seek unique and interesting stories. Only contact them if you have material that is news-worthy and will capture the reader’s interest. For example, if a hotel has recently hired a new critically acclaimed chef who serves up a variety of delicious dishes, then one may consider this newsworthy.
Know how to handle unplanned situations:
Crisis management is a critical part of public relations in the travel industry. A lot of things can go unplanned and some of these things are beyond your control. There can be poor weather conditions which delay transportation or misplaced luggage. Treating travelers well is extremely important in the travel and tourism industry. Travelers have the ability to build or tarnish your company’s reputation with reviews and through word of mouth. Even the best arrangements for guests can fall through and it is best to handle these situations professionally and with care. Being in communication with hotel and travel destination staff to ensure the proper handling of this situation is crucial. If something doesn’t go as planned, staff should be ready to treat travelers cheerfully and with respect to make them feel comfortable and happy. As a public relations professional, it will be your job to convey the importance of a good attitude to travel destination workers and to the clients you represent.
One example of a well-handled crisis in the travel industry was when Carnival Cruise Lines had a series of high profile incidents in 2012 and 2013, including the sinking of the Costa Concordia that resulted in the deaths of 32 passengers and the infamous Carnival “poop cruise.” Because of these incidents, Carnival bookings disappeared, proceeds dropped and the reputation of the corporation suffered. To combat this serious crisis, a new leadership team was put in place and the corporation brought in public relations professional Roger Frizzell as Chief Communications Officer to help recover the company’s reputation.
As you can see, travel public relations is complex. Travel public relations professionals need to ensure that the clients they represent have safe practices and facilities and that all travel staff are professional. In this industry you need to always be aware and ready to combat any crises. Do you think you have what it takes to take on a travel public relations profession? Get in contact with some professionals in the industry to learn more!
By Talia Smith
As Thanksgiving weekend and holiday break are upon us, I think we can all expect an inevitable conversation with a relative that goes something like this:
Relative: How’s school going?
Me: It’s going well, Aunt Maureen. Thanks for asking.
Relative: What is it that you study again?
Me: Public relations.
Relative: Public relations? What’s that?
Maybe it’s just me, but at this point, I am racking my brain for the right words to articulate what exactly PR is. It is hard to summarize the whole industry into a few sentences because each sector of PR is different and the field is changing every day.
I realized after providing a not-so-great answer to a family member that I really should have a few sentences prepared about what I do. Then I remembered there’s a professional concept called an elevator pitch which is a 30-second opportunity to tell someone what you do in the time it takes to ride an elevator.
In preparation for the holidays and the get-togethers that come with it, I encourage aspiring PR pros to create your own PR elevator pitches. Holiday gatherings are an excellent opportunity to test run your pitch in front of a forgiving crowd so when you find yourself in an elevator with an executive seeking PR assistance, you’ll be able to eloquently communicate your message.
To help you get started, here are a few examples about how to construct your own PR elevator pitch. Let’s assume someone asks, “What is PR?”
Provide a general definition and an example of what PR professionals do.
According to the PRSA, “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” This definition is a great starting place for your pitch but you’ll want to customize it to your own voice.
Public relations is a strategy brands use to communicate with their audiences.
Public relations professionals think of creative ways to help clients reach their audiences.
Public relations helps companies build relationships with the people who make the company successful.
Public relations professionals work with media outlets to share their client’s story to the public.
Follow with a casual, attention-grabbing statement.
You don’t want to pepper your pitch with industry-exclusive jargon. That’s a surefire way to receive glazed over eyes and the classic “I have no idea what you just said so I’ll just nod my head.” Keep it simple and use relatable words.
We do the behind-the-scenes work to help companies shine in the media.
Just like the name suggests, we help companies relate to the public.
We are like storytellers but for brands and organizations.
We take elements from advertising, journalism, and marketing to create a plan to help companies succeed.
Narrow in on what you would like to do in the field of PR.
Now that your listener knows what PR is, tell them what it means to you and how the definition relates to your aspirations.
One day, I’d like to help nonprofits spread their message in order to raise more revenue.
I want to be a bridge between the scientific community and the public.
I want to work exclusively with food and beverage PR to make sure my clients’ products end up in your refrigerator.
I’d like to use my love for writing to help brands get their message out in creative ways.
This holiday season, don’t panic when a relative asks, “So, what do you do?” Taking the time to create your own PR elevator pitch will not only help others understand what you do, but it might even help you better understand what you do or want to do. Make your PR elevator pitch your mantra and hopefully one day you’ll be reciting it to your future employer in an elevator and not to your Aunt Maureen as she passes the pumpkin pie.
By Talia Smith
Last year I was living in Portland, dead in the middle of a PR internship search. I applied to companies of all sizes – large corporations such as Edelman, midsize agencies such as Matter Communications, and small, boutique firms where I found the most success. When I shifted my attention to smaller firms, I noticed actual people were picking up my phone calls and responding to my emails.
Three interviews later, I landed an internship at Veracity. The boutique PR firm is owned by Amy and Mike Rosenberg, both UO alums. Their quaint office is tucked away in the stylish Bakery Building in Northeast Portland. For six months, I worked side by side with Amy and Mike, trying to soak up their knowledge about the field of PR.
One of the many things I learned during my internship is bigger is not always better when it comes to employment. I encourage anyone in my similar situation to seek out a boutique PR firm to intern. Here are four reasons why:
You can create meaningful relationships with your mentors.
When you work closely with your employers, you can’t help but get to know them on a deeper level than you otherwise would at a large agency. You have an ability to shine and be seen since, well, there are not as many people in your way. At a large firm, you won’t have the ability to interact with the president of the company on a daily basis. After producing good work and proving yourself to be a valuable intern, you can be assured that you will always have a great reference, letter of recommendation and networking connection. It is wonderful to have someone you can count on to speak highly of you.
There is a likely chance your internship will turn into a job.
All the lovey-dovey stuff aside, PR firms invest a lot of time and energy into their interns and they want a return on their investment. It is in their best interest to hire someone full-time who already knows the ropes of the company. Why would they want to hire someone in need of training when they could hire someone who has already been trained? Larger firms have more funds to test out interns whereas small firms won’t take on anyone who they can’t see working at the company in the future.
You might work directly with clients and media.
With the intimacy of a boutique PR firm comes trust and responsibility when it comes to client and media relations. You cannot necessarily say the same of an entry level position at a large firm. There is no better way to tighten up your email and phone etiquette than calling up a client or reporter on a regular basis.
When you communicate with reporters regularly, you create media relations that carry with you to your next job. Reporters tend to pick up press releases from familiar writers who take the time to understand their beat. A large portion of my internship was customizing emails and matching press releases to the right reporters. At larger firms, media relations can turn into spam at times with automated email pitches. Learning the essential skill of client and media communication is valuable.
You will have the opportunity to create tons of portfolio pieces.
Nothing looks better in a portfolio than an actual writing sample used by a client. In smaller firms, there is plenty of work to go around and a lot of it will fall on you. There is a good chance that you will have the opportunity to write pieces that end up in newspapers, magazines, blogs or social media posts. The work you produce is real and holds weight in a portfolio over something written for a school project. There is more work to dish out to other people in larger agencies but you have to be more of a jack-of-all-trades in a boutique firm – the result will be an array of diverse profile pieces.
As you’re starting to think about summer internships, I recommend starting your search with boutique PR firms. Be aware that many small firms do not post internships online – it’s up to you to create your own position and pitch yourself. This is really only a possibility at boutique firms.
Start by researching and making a list of the firms in your area then give them a call. Once you get someone on the phone, ask if they would be interested in hosting an intern. Practice your pitch and make it direct. Either they will say no and you can move on to the next firm on your list or they will say yes and ask you to send your resume. Make sure to remember the name of the person you spoke with on the phone.
Take some time to research the firm and create a customized cover letter. Then compose an email saying, “Hi, I spoke to so and so on the phone and they told me your firm might be interested in hosting an intern.” Attach your cover letter and resume and wait for a reply email or phone call. I guarantee, there will be a few firms who never invited the possibility of hosting an intern until it was presented to them. Who doesn’t need extra help and cheap labor?
Take control of your internship search by narrowing your choices to the boutique PR firms in your area. It worked for me and it will work for you too. The skills and hands-on experience you will gain in a boutique PR firm could land you a job with the company or act as a stepping stone to your next exciting career move. You know what they say: good things come in small packages.
By Erica Freeze
In today’s technologically advanced society, more companies are incorporating social media into their marketing and communications plans. For a company’s social media platform to gain attention, strategists should devise a social media plan. Every interaction that is made on social networks should work towards the organization goals. The more time and effort spent on a social media plan, the more effective it will be in its implementation. If your employer asks you to generate a social media plan, here are five ways tips to consider to ensure its success:
Step 1: Define social media objectives and goals
Establishing plan objectives allows you to make changes to your social media campaigns and platforms if they are not coinciding with your goals. Goals need to be established to gauge the overall success of the campaign. When setting your campaign goals, think of the acronym, “S.M.A.R.T.” This acronym is a great way to remember that your goals should be “specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.” Some examples of goals may be: increasing company awareness, increasing sales or increasing visitor loyalty. The goal is important to establish because it is the driving force of a social media plan.
Step 2: Conduct a social media audit
A social media audit is a process of analyzing what is working and what is not across your company’s social media platforms. When first starting your audit, take note of post frequency and follower interactions on each channel. From this, you can compare how your numbers change each month or each year. You can determine which platforms are worth keeping, enhancing or disregarding.
Step 3: Construct a content strategy
Creating a timeline and planning the content to post is helpful in the organization and originality of each platform. Cater your content to your company image, your audience, and the platform. An example: Should we post something funny or more serious? Should a video or a status be posted? Once your content is established, you can decide how frequently to post it on each platform. There are many studies that provide useful information about optimal posting times for each medium. Finding the perfect frequency to post can generate more engagement for your content.
Step 4: Engagement
It is important to see how your followers engage with your content on each platform. Keep track of how well each post is doing on likes, shares, and comments. Be on top of both negative and positive feedback. Instead of deleting negative comments, try to turn the customer’s perception around with positive advice and understanding. Showing that you care about your customers on social media can attract more followers and enhance customer loyalty.
Step 5: Evaluate and Alter your Plan
After you have implemented your plan, you should watch for what is working and what is not. You can use an analytics tool such as Google Analytics to provide data on website traffic. Once you see which content is driving the most traffic, you can apply this awareness to new posts. Because social media is constantly growing and changing, it is important to frequently analyze your successes and failures. From this, you can reconstruct your social media plan to best benefit your organization.
By Arunima Bhattacharjee
While you’re a a pre-journalism student at the School of Journalism and Communication (SOJC), you might have asked yourself a few questions before deciding the perfect major for yourself. Some people believe that creativity is for advertising, writing skills for journalism and dealing with people is public relations. So, which skills do you identify with the most? Well, all three majors require extensive communication, creativity and writing skills. However, the second question that might cross your mind is which major will most likely land me with a job after graduation? Well then it’s time we explore this question because the career you choose will impact how much money you will make in the future.
According to “The Guardian,” the competition in the journalism field is “immense.” It takes some time to land with a good paying job as a journalist and you need to know your technology before heading into the job market. The journalism school here at the University of Oregon (UO) will teach you the necessary technological knowledge, but the rest is on you. You need to be up-to-date with all the available software for editing and creating multimedia. It’s also important to create a portfolio; this will show them what you’ve learned while in school. In addition, the average salary for a journalist is in between $24,000 to $71,000 annually.
If you are thinking that you will sit at a leather chair with a window view in Manhattan at an advertisement agency, like “Mad Men”, then think again. Peggy didn’t get her own office on her first day of work. She had an entry-level position and then got promoted to different levels because she was able to demonstrate unique skills and creative thinking. That’s what advertisement agencies want in new graduating undergrads. If you intern in an advertising firm while in college, it is more likely that same firm will be willing to hire you full-time after you graduate. According to the “Payscale Human Capital”, the salary at an advertising firm will be between $32,000 and $71,000 annually, this can also vary on which part of advertisement you are interested in going into.
Public relations, on the other hand are outpacing journalism. According to the “Pew Research Center” the salary gap between PR specialist and a news reporter is almost $20,000 annually. A new survey from the University of Georgia found that new graduates earn on average $35,000 a year when they get into the public relations career. The number of employed PR specialists is expected to jump from 258,100 in 2010 to 316,200 by 2020. This projection equates to a 23% rise in employment.
It’s that time of year! We college seniors are scrambling to submit resumes, obsessing over networking with professionals, and praying we magically land the ultimate “big girl/boy” job that fits our career wish list. And pays $1,000 an hour…in our dreams.
Those of us with internship positions are obviously highlighting that experience on our resumes and counting on supervisors to act as references. But what if the perfect job opportunity is closer than we think? Wouldn’t it be nice to transition into being a paid professional without even having to leave Eugene? Read the 5 tips below on how to turn your internship into a real, paying job.
Interview your supervisor.
Your supervisor and you probably engage in light conversation during downtime on the job. But to be seriously considered as a potential new hire, dig deeper! Set aside one hour to have a conversation with your supervisor that will strengthen your professional relationship and prove you care about a career at this agency. You could ask:
Establish new connections.
Take it upon yourself to network with professionals at other agencies in the area. Paid staff at your internship site probably have these relationships already, which is exactly why you have to show them that you are also capable of establishing a presence in the local PR community. Call around, send e-mails, and set up informational interviews. This will give you a competitive edge against other potential new hires.
Take on a solo project.
Your supervisor needs to know exactly what her intern can accomplish as a member of the team. Start by considering your skill set: What do you bring to the agency that sets you apart from veteran employees? Next, sit down with your supervisor to discuss agency needs. Maybe the company’s presence on a new social media platform needs to be developed, a brochure needs to be designed, or a whole new event planned. Utilize your skills to meet the agency’s needs and…ta-da! You’ll stand out as an essential member of the team.
Immerse yourself in the agency culture.
Make friends with coworkers and take up activities that seem popular around the office. In conversation, bring up topics of interest to those around you. This agency needs to know that you can groove with the overall office vibe.
This might seem obvious, but just ask for a job! Let your supervisor know how interested in you are in starting your career with this agency. She will greatly appreciate your passion for the work this agency does. The worst-case scenario is that you are turned down, and then it’s back to the resume submissions and networking frenzy!
Have any other tips on turning an internship into a job? Share them below!
Anna Williams, external relations committee member, is a senior studying Family & Human Services. She’s obsessed with craft beer, avocados and everything about Seattle, and is pursuing a career in Food + Bev PR. Follow her on Twitter @annaleighwill.
Life after graduation can be daunting, but Kylee Plummer has navigated it like a pro. Kylee is a recent graduate from the UO public relations program. During her time in the SOJC, she was actively involved with PRSSA, serving as the 2013-2014 Event Director. She’s now living and working in Portland and took the time out of her busy schedule to share about life after college and her tips for seniors.
Where are you currently working and what are some of the projects you are working on?
I am currently working at Edelman Portland as an Assistant Account Executive working on a mix of consumer and tech clients. Right now, I’m my clients include HP and Travel Portland. Some upcoming projects will possibly include Emerald Nuts and Starbucks. It’s really a large variety! My job involves a heavy amount of media monitoring, measurements, analytics and a lot of writing – which I love.
It’s exactly what they say; you’re never doing the same thing and you never know what you’re going to be working on. It’s very exciting.
What does your typical day look like?
A typical day includes monitoring the different social platforms for brands I’m working with, pulling reports for them on a weekly basis and performing a lot of research. In a typical day (I think at most agencies), there are a lot of meetings. I would say about 70 percent of each day consists of meetings, and I think that’s why with PR you have such flexible hours. You’re always on and fitting different tasks, brainstorms and planning into each day. You could have a somewhat easy day head home at 6 p.m. or you could have meetings most of the day, as well as a few deadlines that require you to work pretty late – but that doesn’t happen all the time! This is just a great example of how varied your days can be in an agency setting. Always busy and always learning new things – but always exciting and challenging!
What has been your greatest obstacle in your new job?
This may sound a bit cliché, but my biggest obstacle has been trying to find a good balance for using my time wisely. This job requires you to really prioritize and manage your time. Going straight into agencies from graduation has forced me to get a lot better at this – so has my planner.
Which classes at UO prepared you the most?
I absolutely respect Kathryn Kuttis, and I loved her portfolio class. She really gets imprints it in your mind that you need to work extremely hard and have interesting, clean materials in your portfolio that help you to stand out or you’re not going to be able to land the dream job that you want. That class taught me a lot; even though it was for a weekend, it really helped to put everything into perspective and I’ll never forget it. The workshop forced me to start working toward a pristine, beautiful collection of work that would eventually help me land a real job out of college. Apparently it worked! Overall, Kathryn is super inspiring and her class helped immensely.
Stay involved until the end because you never know what will make the difference in landing you the job you want.
When did you start the job search your senior year?
I was in the spring 2014 cohort for the Portland Senior Experience so I actually left Eugene in early April to jump in right away before graduation. I started my internship at Urban Airship, a tech startup in Portland, and I was actively job searching while I was there. I knew that I wanted to get into an agency and desperately dreamed of going to Edelman! With that, I started looking into smaller agencies. To recap, it was probably three months before graduation that I really started looking for jobs. Starting early is always a good thing!
Do you have any advice for senior PR majors?Get involved!
Do something! Get an internship and/or get involved in PRSSA and AHPR. It really makes a huge difference. Also, make sure you network like crazy. Networking is honestly one of the main reasons I landed where I am now. Go to events like Portland Paddle; it’s so much fun and you end up meeting the most inspiring, smart, wonderful people. Get involved, brand yourself in a positive way, network, network, network and the rest will fall into place. Honestly, if you work hard and have an end goal, you can do it all. Go for it.
Shelby Nelson, External Relations Committee, serves as a project manager for the PRSSA blog. She is a senior pursuing a Public Relations degree. Feel free to follow her on Twitter at @shelbybriann.
Meet Ian Bragg, University of Oregon SOJC alumni, who will be joining us for our PRSSA Panel and Mixer tonight! Following his graduation with a B.S. in Journalism with a focus in public relations and advertising, Ian spent a few years at Waggener Edstrom. He then joined the Edelman team to work on their Xbox account. Currently, Ian is a Senior Account Executive on the Earned Media team at CMD. As part of the Portland PRSA chapter, Ian works as the Director of New Pros where he brings his five years of large agency experience to new PR pros.
We asked Ian some questions prior to the PRSSA Panel and Mixer. Get to know Ian before our event tonight:
Q: Did you have any internships while in college? If so, how influential do you think that experience was in helping you nail your first job?
A: I did not have any internships while I was in college. However, I was involved in a variety of activities, including the student-run magazine, Oregon Voice, Allen Hall Advertising (AHA) and of course, UO PRSSA. Honestly, I was very lucky to get a job out of college without holding any internships. I believe they are extremely valuable to prepare yourself before entering the job market. There are even some internship programs that require candidates have at least two previous internships and/or a Master’s degree. It’s pretty competitive out there, folks.
Q: What was the application process like for you when looking for post-graduation options?
A: My dad always taught me that “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” This couldn’t have been more accurate during my application process. A family friend introduced me to a VP at Waggener Edstrom, which led me to an informational interview, and well, the rest is history.
Beyond my personal story, I can’t stress enough how important setting up informational interviews is. Simply applying for a job is sometimes not enough. Plus, not all jobs coming down the pipeline are advertised on the company’s website. If you can demonstrate your value during an informational [interview], you’d be surprised how much that helps your chances at landing a job.
Q: What shocked you the most when starting your first job out of college?
A: The on-boarding process can be quite intense. I was lucky enough to start on the Microsoft account, so I had to learn all the ins and outs of the tech industry – right away. It’s exciting digging deep into the accounts you work on, but it’s mentally draining for the first few months. However, I wouldn’t give up that experience for anything in the world. Starting my first “real job” is one of the best feelings I’ve ever felt.
Q: What has been your favorite project or accomplishment?
A: I had the opportunity to launch Xbox One while I was working at Edelman. This experience was by far the highlight of my career. I worked harder than I ever worked leading up to the event, but it was worth every minute of it. I got to go to New York City to help with the launch, which included going backstage at Bloomberg, Fox Business and other broadcast publications with our top executive. I also ran the VIP/celebrity check-in and watched Macklemore perform for hundreds of Xbox fans attending the event. I was truly living the dream.
Q: How has PRSA benefited you as a professional?
A: As I mentioned above, it’s not what you know, but who you know. PRSA gave me the opportunity to meet and network with the leaders of the PR community in Portland. The PRSA New Pros specifically helped acquaint me with the numerous PR and marketing agencies in Portland. This knowledge helped me locate the most recent stage in my career – working on the Earned Media team at CMD.
Q: What are the top three skills PR students should try to obtain before graduation?
A: Writing/editing is probably the most important skill for a PR professional. Agencies and clients alike expect us to have strong writing skills and perfect grammar.
Social Media knowledge: As millennials, we are expected to have knowledge of emerging social media networks and how to leverage the existing ones. Today PR isn’t just about media relations, it encompasses all forms of communication.
Networking: It’s amazing how small the PR community is across the nation. By getting to know others in the industry, you will give yourself a leg up on the competition when job searching.
Q: What are some first steps students should take to build their networks?
A: Leverage your professors. They have more connections than you can imagine. Beyond that, join professional networks in the cities you are planning on working in. For example, PRSA New Pros and similar groups are a great way to get to know other young professionals and the various PR and marketing agencies in your community. And don’t be shy. Roll to a few meet-ups solo – chances are there are five other talented people in the room who are in the exact same boat. Finally, keep your LinkedIn updated and connect with the people you meet. LinkedIn is the number one way recruiters find candidates for jobs. You don’t want to miss out on that opportunity.
Be sure to stop by Allen 141 tonight at 6 to meet Ian Bragg and other professionals as they share their insight with us!
Lauren Todd, Internal Events Director, plans internal events for UO PRSSA in effort to build relationships within the group. In her spare time, Lauren enjoys assisting with weddings and staying up to date on the world of pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @Lauren_Todd.