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.
Cathy Hamilton started Verb Marketing and PR, a full-service marketing communications firm, in 2003. Verb specializes in strategic planning and consulting, media relations, brand development and management and more. Hamilton runs Verb with her Creative Director, Doug Ferguson. As president, Hamilton has a variety of responsibilities ranging from strategic planning to sales to team management—ensuring that all work exceeds client expectations.
Q: How did you get where you are today?
A: That’s a huge question. I got started in public relations because I liked to write and I thought the PR field would be more diverse and varied than reporting. At that time, the advertising field required more that you could do your own design and I thought that you had to really be a true artist. Also, at this point there weren’t programs like InDesign and Photoshop and all of that, you had to be more of a natural artist, able to draw with your hand. I can art direct but not actually produce myself. So I headed into PR.
Throughout college Cathy had numerous different internships, and upon graduation Cathy received a job working in Marketing. She loved her job but was then offered a Public Affairs job in Eugene where she worked for 5 years. She wanted something more fast paced and found that she did like Marketing firms, but she felt that many of the clients were being pushed into a marketing solution for something that could more easily be solved by PR. Her mission was to change the idea of companies who worked under the notion “whatever we have…you get.” Her experience in both the Public Relations field and the Marketing field lead her to the idea integrating the two as one. Her vision was to create a small firm where the top people were always the ones working with the clients, and for her, a single person in charge of the PR and marketing.
Q: When did it “click” that this was the right field for you?
A: “I always liked writing. I think it was always clear I would do something with writing and it’s just morphed over time. It definitely started more with PR and then morphed more into marketing which I think is just more of a function of the market here and also just how communications has changed it’s just really in a totally different ball game than it was, even when I started–which was not–well I don’t think it was–that long ago. It was a totally different era for PR. It changes a lot which is what keeps me in the business. There are parts of it I don’t care for but the parts of it I do are that it is always changing so if you are a fickle person if you like that constant challenge–I mean really, right as soon as you think you’ve got it figured out it changes and you’re expected to be there ahead of the change–so if you like that kind of constant pressure it’s a great field.”
Q: What are employers most looking for in students with my background, as to day, with people just entering the field?
A: “A good writer. The ability of engage, to be responsive. What always makes me smile when we have interns is how they take feedback…I take feedback positive and negative all day long, you know? A client may not like a particular word and you just have to be able to bounce back and say ‘okay, we’ll fix that’. [In addition] you do always rely on that core desire and ability to write, that and an interest in experimenting and that willingness to be pushed all the time. “
Q: How do you see this industry changing within the next decade?
A: “I have no idea what we will see in ten years. You know, if you had asked me that ten years ago I would have said definitely electronic means. I wouldn’t have necessarily predicted the specifics of it, and I don’t think it’s even settled down yet, I think that we’re still trying to figure out. Yeah, we know social media is huge, we know how it plays in, and we know how to use it but what’s coming what’s going what the next big thing will be…is [all] up for debate. Regardless of that kind of [means] the thing that people have to be really good at is being flexible, being eager to learn. You have to have kind of an innate curiosity because that part will stay the same.”
Q: What special advice do you have for a student seeking a job within the PR and marketing fields?
A: “You’re pushed you will never become comfortable in this job. If you do then you need to be pushed a little bit more. And I think if you don’t like that it’s maybe not the right job…and there are times in life when you don’t want that, when things get chaotic you kind of want the calm which is why I’ve seen people slip in and out of the field…I think it’s more of a personality trait than a talent set. [Also you have to remember that] you will never put something forward the first time that is perfect. [This also] is a good reason to do internships, you find out what you like and don’t like and you can leave gracefully.”
Image (c) of Hamilton, Verb Marketing and PR
Post by Leigh Scheffey, PRSSA member for the 2012-2013 school year. You can contact Leigh through our blog editor: email@example.com.
Kelli Matthews is a public relations instructor at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication (SOJC). She has been the faculty advisor for Allen Hall Public Relations (AHPR) for eight years, and when she was a student at the SOJC, she was on the first AHPR team. With years of experience, Matthews knows a thing or two about success in the public relations industry.
Q: What is the most important advice you have for budding public relations professionals?
A: I think that my biggest piece of advice is to be curious. Be curious about everything. Like how the world works, how news gets made. Just being active in organizations like AHPR, PRSSA or Oregon News associations really stem for being curious and making that attempt to fill your knowledge gaps. Even as you get in your profession, that curiosity will carry you a long way.
If you continue to be curious, you will pay attention to how to advance in your industry and your job. Curiosity will keep you up to date and, because everything changes so frequently in public relations, you really need to keep searching for those answers.
Q: You briefly touched on opportunities like PRSSA and AHPR, do you have any specific advice about how to get involved and build up a résumé?
A: I think that you should keep your eyes and ears open all the time. Opportunities may not always come in the form of a formal interview. There are lots of ways to gain exposure and to learn about the (PR) industry to be exposed to the environment, jobs and structure outside of formal settings. The point is really to keep your eyes open for opportunities that may not be directly related to a job experience. It’s not just about getting three internships on your resume because that’s what supposedly gets you a job.
Get involved with what interests you even if it’s not directly related to public relations. Life isn’t just a big checklist. There are many opportunities that add to the richness of your life and to the richness of you as a person, and all of these aspects tie into becoming a better public relations professional. Students tend to look for certain job experience on their resume without looking at the bigger picture. Stay curious and interested, you’ll be surprised at what opportunities lay in front of you.
Q: Could you give me an example of these life experiences that have helped you in public relations?
A: Part of my core values is to be connected and involved in the community. My personal commitment is to the community not to public relations. I am very involved with Rotary International, and I am on the board of directors of United Way of Lane County. I make conscious commitment to spend time with organizations that relate to my core values. As an adult, I knew what I was giving up in order to do that and as a young professional these choices are harder.
But as a young professional, you need to keep yourself aware of your core values, it could be a number of things, like family commitment. For me, it was about figuring our how my time is best spent and this had to do with my core values. It’s about finding a fit with your personal values and where you spend your time.
Post by Kaitlyn Chock, PRSSA member and project manager for the 2012-2013 school year. You can contact Kaitlyn through our blog editor: firstname.lastname@example.org!
Not many people can say a post-grad vacation led them to their dream job… Except for Portland-native Allie Hawes. In the summer of 2012, Hawes ventures to Palm Springs shortly after graduation for some well deserved post-grad relaxation but made the life-changing decision to stay in Los Angeles for her dream job.
Hawes now works as a Project Manager at the world’s leading entertainment marketing agency Trailer Park. The company is headquartered in Hollywood, along with regional offices in New York and London.
Before accepting the position in L.A., Hawes was a student University of Oregon. She returned to her retail position in Portland directly after graduation, but Hawes did not plan to stay there for long.
In need of a reprieve from college and returning to life in Portland, Hawes drove to Palm Springs in California. The young professional planned to interview with an agency in San Diego on July 10th. But on the day before of her interview, she woke to an unexpected surprise: the chance to interview with Trailer Park. Hawes received word from a friend of an opening at Trailer Park. Her interview took place on July 16, and she started work the next morning.
“The interview was drilling,” recalls Hawes. Three interviewers peppered Hawes with demanding questions at the same time, but she passed the tests.
Hawes was assigned to freelance for three weeks, but she worked for only a week before she was offered the position. According to Hawes’ supervisor, she was selected for the job thanks to her “spitfire” personality. She now works in the marketing department of ArtMachine. Her work has introduced her to world-famous clients, including Warner Bros., Paramount, Lionsgate, and more recently, Disney and Universal. Hawes is the youngest professional in her office.
“I am the middle person between the studio and my team of eight designers,” said Hawes. Her team designs the packaging of movies released on DVD/Blue Ray, Netflix, and iTunes.
“It didn’t set in for about a month…it all happened so fast for it to feel real,” Hawes recalls about the quick decision that changed her career. But Hawes adjusted quickly to life in Los Angeles. She currently lives in Santa Monica, about a mile from the beach. Hawes’ success story proves that amazing opportunities can present themselves at the most unexpected times. According to Hawes, “Things come up and you never know how they are going to turn out.” But this former PRSSA member turned PR professional is proof that things really do happen for a reason.
Post by Audree Nethercott, PRSSA member for the 2012-2013 school year. You can contact Audree through our blog editor: email@example.com!
Ali AAsum started her career in public relations at a full-service marketing agency in Portland where she helped lead public relations campaigns, event execution, celebrity seeding, and social media strategies for companies both large and small. She worked on accounts like Cirque du Soleil; Feld Entertainment, Inc.; Taco del Mar; BridgePort Brewing Company; Oregon Association of Nurseries; The Portland Clinic; Mountain House; Simple Shoes; Deep Silver and others. In 2009, Ali’s team was deemed a 2010 PR Week Finalist for its Free Tacos on Tax Day campaign for Taco del Mar in two nominated categories.
Possessing strong relationships with local and national media, Ali has worked with and garnered coverage in outlets like Men’s Journal, People, OK!, Surfing, ReadyMade, YRB Magazine, Outside Magazine, Perez.com, Wired.com, CNN, CNN Money.com, Portland Monthly, The Oregonian, 1859 Magazine, MIX Magazine, and NW Palate among others.
Ali earned her bachelor’s degree in 2009 from the University of Oregon, School of Journalism and Communication, with an emphasis in public relations. Prior to graduation, she held numerous internships including The Ulum Group, City of Eugene Adaptive Recreation Services, and MR Magazine, as an editorial intern in New York.
Ali now works as an account executive at bell+funk in Eugene, Ore., where she started in May 2012.
Biography provided by Ali AAsum and Bell+Funk PR Agency of Eugene, OR. Ali visited the UO PRSSA chapter as a guest speaker on November 7, 2012. A big thank you to Ali and Bell+Funk for their ongoing support!
Q & A with Kris Koivisto, Corporate Communications Coordinator for the Portland Trailblazers
1. What is a day in sports communication, especially as a part of the
As with many jobs in a fast-paced environment, no two days are exactly the same. They may involve the same duties, but rarely in the same order. Different days have different priorities. We have four employees dedicated solely to PR. Within our department, we have Sports Communications and Corporate Communications, with one person dedicated solely to Sports and one to Corporate. There are also two people that split time on both sides – although we all help each other out and fill in for each other on a regular basis. Below, I’ve listed the primary duties our department handles (which can also be found on my LinkedIn profile).
Writing news releases and media advisories
Fielding, scheduling and facilitating interview and photo requests
Pitching stories to the media
Building and maintaining relationships with local, national and online media
Working cross-departmentally to help carry out marketing and communications initiatives
Monitoring media coverage and fan feedback
Writing wrap-up reports of the coverage we’ve received for specified events
Writing speaking points on a wide range of topics
Conducting media training
Writing blogs and taking photos at events
Editing and proof-reading content
Producing the content and layout for each ‘Rip City’ program
Producing a 300-page media guide each offseason
Preparing press credentials, seating charts, statistics, packets, postgame passes on games days
Preparing game information and seating arrangements for visiting teams’ PR staff, broadcast affiliates and traveling media
Handling the internal communications within the company, including the management of our intranet site and staff meetings
2. How did you get into it? Anything that specifically led you there
I personally got my foot in the door during the spring semester of my junior year of college, interning in Interactive Marketing from home (school). My job was basically to create a viral buzz on the team’s MySpace page (that ages myself) and social network, iamatrailblazersfan.com.
Following that internship I applied for the summer intern position with the Sports Communications department. I was lucky enough to get a good referral from my previous manager, and was the Sports Communications intern the summer we won the NBA Draft Lottery (one of the best experiences of my life). I built a good relationship with my boss, and stayed on as the season-long intern during the 2007-08 season. By good fortune, a full-time position opened up within the department near the end of the season. I went through an extensive interview process and eventually got the job. The rest is history.
3. Is there anything you wish you would’ve learned in college that you
I would say pitching stories, setting up formal interviews and ghost-writing quotes.
4. Any advice on getting into the world of sports communication?
Interning, definitely. Volunteering, too. Setting up informational interviews always helps to put a name to a face when the application process comes along. Making connections in the industry and building your own brand are also very key.
5. The most needed skill in your job and why
If I had to choose one, I’d say intuition. You need to rely on your gut instinct a lot of times when your boss isn’t around. It’s important that you can make the right decision on the fly – especially in conversations with the media. Every decision you make has to be in the best interests of the company.
6. Are there any positions open with the Trailblazers at the moment or
in the near future?
Unfortunately there are not currently any PR positions open with the Trail Blazers. We do hire 2-3 interns each fiscal year. All of our job openings on our website: http://blazers.teamworkonline.com/teamwork/jobs/default.cfm
If you have any follow-up questions for Kris, you can ask him via email or twitter:
firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter (@KrisKoivisto)