An extensive personal network is a valuable tool for any budding public relations professional, and agency tours are a great way to build these relationships. UO PRSSA recently visited three agencies in Seattle: Edelman, Weber Shandwick and Porter Novelli. Here are a few tips on how to follow up after agency tours to build your personal network:
Connect with the professionals on social media. Reach out to the professionals you spoke to and request a connection on LinkedIn. Personalize each request by mentioning something that specific person said. Also, follow the professionals on Twitter, tweet a thank you and engage with their tweets.
Send a thank you email. Did any particular people stand out? Thank them for their time and note an aspect of the agency that you enjoyed. If any conversations or tips reminded you of an article, include the article in the email. Be specific but concise, and keep the email under two paragraphs. Aim to send the email within a week of the agency tour. Also, don’t send a resume unless you were asked to – you don’t want to be pushy, you want to show your gratitude.
Want to go the extra mile? Send a handwritten thank you card instead. Be sure to send your card as soon as possible. Like the email, the handwritten thank you note should be personalized.
Cultivate a sustainable relationship. Don’t send one email and never reach out again. Check in every six months or so by sharing a relevant article or engaging on LinkedIn. But remember, networking is about mutuality. Don’t reach out to people to get something out of them – try to make every relationship mutually beneficial.
These tips also work for informational interviews! The key is to stay personal, engaged and courteous. Networking is about cultivating relationships; you have to give value to receive value.
What’s your take on networking? Share your tips for following up after agency tours in the comments below.
Kaitlyn Chock is a PRSSA project manager for the 2013-14 school year. You can contact Kaitlyn at email@example.com.
A common issue among public relations majors is landing an internship. Although seeking out a public relations internship can be intimidating, especially if you have little to no experience, it is possible. Here are some quick tips to get you started.
With strategic searching and persistence, you will have an internship in no time.
Amelea Renshaw is the 2013-2014 University of Oregon PRSSA operations director. She is currently a junior double majoring in advertising and public relations. You can contact Amelea at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter at @amelearenshaw.
Why does branding matter?
As public relations students, we are aware of the importance of company branding but often overlook our own personal brand. This post will explore personal branding, discuss value proposition and key publics, and how to market your brand.
Determine your brand
SWOT Analysis: A personal SWOT analysis can help you determine your capabilities and interests, which will help you figure out where you should be heading professionally.
Identify your value proposition
Value proposition identifies who you are. What image do you want people to associate with you? Use your SWOT analysis to help you identify what makes you unique. Here are a few questions to ask yourself to help determine your value proposition:
Once you have identified your value proposition, think about how to translate that into a 60-second, a 30-second and a 10-second elevator pitch to tell potential employers.
Have a targeted approach
You need to be strategic with your brand and identify your target audience. Consider factors like:
Social media profiles are a great way to get your name out there and to connect with others. Do not try to be on every social media platform because you cannot devote enough time and effort to each account.
Branding yourself is a continuous process. Everything that you do reflects on your personal brand. Think about how your online interactions reflect on your brand.
How do you market yourself online? Please tell us about your personal branding efforts in the comments below.
Photo Credit: Oliver Beattie
Kaitlyn is the PRSSA External Relations Project Manager for the 2012-2013 school year. She is a senior studying public relations at the University of Oregon. You connect with Kaitlyn at email@example.com or on Twitter @thtwhtkatiesaid.
Agency life can be exciting yet intimidating. As public relations students, we are often told that starting off in an agency is a great way to launch our careers in “the real world.” The big question that always seems to come up is “what does a PR agency even do?” To answer that question, our Chapter hosts agency tours every term in a different city. Agency tours give students a taste of what it’s like to work at an agency and see if its a right fit for them.
If you’re looking for insight on agency life, a UO PRSSA agency tour is the first step in the right direction. Agency tours are not only an opportunity to see the office space and surrounding city but also an opportunity to embrace the agencies’ culture. To understand the agencies’ culture, ask professionals who work there. Ask questions like:
It’s important to remember that professionals are taking time out of their day to meet and provide insight. Do not waste their time – research the company and its clients, and prepare to ask questions. Most importantly, absorb as much as you can!
If you have questions regarding upcoming agency tours, feel free to contact Abigaelle Mulligan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Abigaelle Mulligan is 2013-2014 chapter liaison. She is passionate for booming culture within the realms of music, entertainment, and fashion. She hopes to pursue a career in corporate PR upon graduation. You can reach Abigaelle at email@example.com and follow her on twitter at @abbsmulligan.
Preparation is key when it comes to job interviews; however, interview questions are often open-ended, which can be intimidating and seem difficult to prepare for. These questions are challenging, but they also show who you are and how you think.
Tell me about yourself. Instead of reciting what’s on your résumé, surprise your interviewer with something they don’t already know about you. This is your opportunity to show who you are and what makes you unique – your passions, hobbies, and personal experiences. Your interviewer is probably talking to numerous candidates with the necessary qualifications, so use this time to differentiate yourself from your peers.
Tell me about your previous position. Your interviewer wants to know if you were a reliable, trustworthy, and capable employee. Even if you hated your previous position, focus on the positive aspects like what you learned, goals you accomplished, or challenges you overcame. Remember, your interviewer already has your résumé, so use this time to delve deeper. Previous projects and tasks are an excellent way to demonstrate that you are hardworking and capable of delivering results.
Do you have any questions? This is probably the most important interview question. By asking questions you can demonstrate your passion, curiosity, and thoughtfulness. On the other hand, if you don’t ask questions you are communicating to your interviewer that you aren’t invested in the company. You should research the company before your interview so that your questions are meaningful and specific. Here are six questions you can tailor to your interview needs:
At the end of the day, companies hire people and not résumés. Use these tough questions to engage with your interviewer, showcase your strengths, and leave a lasting impression. What tough interview questions have you faced and how did you handle them?
Chloe Loveall is a writer, an artist, and a slave to the creative process. After spending two years traversing the globe, she has temporarily settled down to study journalism and advertising at the University of Oregon. Follow her on Twitter at @ChloeLoveall.
There are many pieces of the job search process that are out of your control: job availability, who else is applying, how organizations find candidates, etc. Therefore, focus on what you can control. One of the earliest career development theories proposed, Planned Happenstance, suggests that one must acknowledge the presence of chance in the career planning process, but also work to increase the likelihood of chance opportunities. For example, if you have an extensive professional network, the likelihood of you hearing about an unadvertised job position will be higher. In order to be a successful job/internship seeker, you must facilitate opportunity by building your network and taking advantage of opportunities that you create.
According to a 2012 study conducted by the US Department of Labor, 70% of all jobs are found through networking. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the use of networking in finding media jobs is even more essential, as students often encounter professional opportunities through an industry professional or well-connected professor. In the media industry, word-of-mouth and networking are critical.
Follow these steps to utilize and expand your network:
1. Start with who you know. Your instructors, who are also industry professionals, have great connections. Friends who have already participated in internships may be able to make appropriate referrals as well. If you have family working in the media industry, approach them too.
2. Spread the word. Tell everyone you know that you are looking for a job or internship. Provide some details on your professional goals so they know which connections are relevant. Your best friend’s mom may work for Edelman.
3. Conduct informational interviews. Once you make new connections, ask if these industry professionals will engage in informational interviews—an interview where you ask questions about a job, profession and industry. You can gather information about a job/organization and expand your network. Who knows, if you make a good impression, it could lead to an internship.
4. Follow up. When people graciously donate their time to help you, be sure to say thank you with an email or a hand-written note. Also remember that networking is reciprocal. Maintain the relationship by checking in or referring your new connection to a recent article of interest.
5. Take advantage of the opportunities you create. As you meet more people, introduce yourself, identify a mutual professional connection and offer to have a conversation over coffee or lunch. You can also attend networking events such as the PRSA New Pros Agency Tours. While putting yourself out there professionally can be intimidating, staying on the sidelines won’t get you anywhere.
While chance plays a role in the search process, you must create opportunities by engaging in the most effective search strategies. Databases are a great place to start and can give you a sense of available opportunities, but they put you in a passive role and are incomplete. Instead, actively work to expand your network; you will create more opportunities for yourself. Put yourself out there.
Guest post by Miranda Atkinson, a current Career & Academic Adviser for the School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon.
A successful cover letter summarizes your relative experience and expresses your interest in a position. Your cover letter should leave the reader wanting to meet you for an interview. During the writing process, it’s important to use your unique voice, while also maintaining a professional and appropriate tone. Here are a few tips for making a great first impression with your cover letter:
Be personal. Whenever possible, address your letter to a specific person.
Do your research. Know what the position entails and learn as much as you can about the industry and organization you are applying for. Doing so allows you to focus on specific assets that match those of the position you’re applying for and tailor your cover letter to best suit the job.
Avoid using clichés. Employers sift through a number of cover letters with the same language. If you’re able to find unique ways to express your enthusiasm and interest for the position, you’re more likely to stand out.
Support your claims. Relate your strengths and experiences to the job description. This gives your letter substance. It also shows you are prepared for the position and prove your written communication skills.
Use active voice. It’s powerful. It shows your confidence. It keeps your ideas clear and easy to understand.
Proofread. Put your cover letter aside for a while, and then reread it. This is an old revision trick, but it works. You will likely discover grammatical errors and sentences that could be improved when you come back to it. Also, consider having a professor or advisor read over your letter – another set of eyes is very helpful when editing.
Don’t forget to format. Take time to make the letter clean and attractive. Keep the same font and header as your resume, but stick to traditional business letter formatting. Don’t forget to include a handwritten signature.
Your letter is the first impression a potential employer has of you as a professional. Remember, be yourself and let your strongest qualities stand out in your writing.
Post by Ruby Betten, PRSSA member for the 2012-2013 school year. You can contact Ruby through our blog editor at firstname.lastname@example.org
Summer is just around the corner. You know what that means? It’s time to start making those summer vacation plans. Summer is also a good time to advance your skills and take advantage of networking connections and opportunities. Whether you are working at home, backpacking through Europe, or interning for a public relations firm, here are some simple tips from PR professionals on how to have a productive summer as a PR major.
1. Write, write, and write
Writing is arguably the most important skill a PR professional can have. It is important to keep writing skills polished, even when school is not in session. Try starting a blog about your summer adventures, writing in a journal, or creating something as a portfolio piece.
2. Learn a new skill
Without the stress of deadlines and assignments that come with being in school, summer makes the perfect opportunity to learn something new. There are plenty of fun skills that you could learn or improve on this coming summer. Photoshop, Final Cut Pro X, and photography can all make valuable additions to your skills toolbox. Personally, I am hoping to improve my InDesign skills this summer.
Volunteering is a great way to get involved and start networking. These experiences can reveal jobs, expand professional networks, help make new friends, provide career experience, and teach valuable skills- all while working for a greater cause.
4. Schedule Informational Interviews
Informational interviews are a great way to learn applicable information firsthand within a specific field. You might also find out about career paths you were unaware of before, and it can provide great tips on how to fix up your résumé and land an interview.
5. Get an Internship
Last, but not least, having an internship over the summer can lead to exciting things. Not only do internships give you an edge in the PR job market, they also provide valuable experience, networking opportunities, and could potentially transition into a full time job.
These are just a few tips on how to have a productive summer as a PR major. Don’t be afraid to go above and beyond this list! Try new things, learn something new about yourself, and most importantly This is an exciting time in our lives and the future holds many opportunities and possibilities, especially in the increasing prosperity of the public relations field. How are you planning to have a productive summer?
Post by Claire Ion, PRSSA member for the 2012-2013 school year. You can contact Claire through our blog editor: email@example.com!
No public relations education would be complete without hearing about the word “portfolio” at least a million times. A strong portfolio and positive online presence are two important tools for PR students after graduation. But one more way important to catch the eye of potential employers is a blog.
I started my own blog, Coffee and Cardigans, in February 2012. Since then, I have learned important lessons in writing, editing, marketing, business tactics and brand management. I also have a work sample that I can share with employers. As a result, my blog presents a strong example of my interests, my expertise and my personality.
Managing a blog can demonstrate your writing skills, along with any design, photography and editing skills. It also builds upon them if you make blogging a habit. Updating your blog with fresh content on a regular basis also shows your ability to organize and dedicate time to a project.
Blogging is also a great way to expand and enrich your online presence. Add your name to a professional, polished and relevant blog that will be at the top of a Google search when employers search for your online presence.
Blogging can introduce you to the industry where you eventually want to work. Whether you want to focus on public relations in the tech industry or explore financial and investor relations, consider blogging in your area of interest! You can position yourself as an “expert” early, and the research will build your industry knowledge.
A blog also connects you to an online community. The blogosphere is a social place and it isn’t rare to strike up a few friendships while you are there. Networking online can be an effective tactic that can lead to connections in the real world as well. Once you find a niche, research other bloggers who write about your favorite topics.
As a PR student, managing my own blog has been an enormous learning opportunity. I honed my writing skills and voice, developed an editorial calendar, and learned to build and market a brand online. According to PR Daily, writing skills and strong work samples are a must in the post-grad job search. The easiest way for a PR student to earn those skills now? Get blogging.
Any student in the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communications (UO SOJC) has heard the word “portfolio” a million times. Let’s face it… we all know how important a strong portfolio is to post-grad career success. But building a portfolio from the ground up can be overwhelming. Before you get started, here are a few ways create a solid foundation for your portfolio:
These are just a few of the many ways to jump into building a portfolio. Find a subject you’re interested in and let it inspire your portfolio content. But remember: a portfolio isn’t static. Plan to revisit your portfolio often to add new material and refine old content, since staying up to date in this fast paced market is key!
Post by Samantha Hanlin, PRSSA member for the 2012-2013 school year. You can contact Samantha through our blog editor: firstname.lastname@example.org!