By Kate Miller
Breaking news: Most students attending college right now are not millennials, even though older people still categorize us as millennials. According to The Huffington Post, if you were born in 1995 or later you are part of “Gen Z.” Sorry to all of the thirty somethings who still want to relate to college kids. A “millennial” is a person who is or becomes a young adult in the year 2000.
Although many of us thought we were millennials up until recently, there are some key differences between us and “true millennials.”
Since our generation grew up with technology, Gen Zer’s relate closer with internet users across the world than the generations above. We are considered the first to be fully global: meaning we think, relate and interact with a global mindset. Ask yourself if you could go a week without your device or even a day? Huffington Post found 40 percent of Gen Z self-identifies as “digital device addicts.” This is contributing to the change in strategic marketing strategies across the board.
Think about how many TV ads Starbucks put out about the new unicorn frappuccino. I have yet to see one. There very well could be, but Starbucks is targeting “Gen-zennials” a Ketchum term for the cohort of 16-24 year olds in between generations. This Starbucks campaign is meant to be instagrammed.
We are a generation that has device dependency that leaves little time for TV consumption, and little interest for traditional advertising and news consumption causing brands to have to change their strategy. When marketing products, keep in mind that times have changed and Gen Z relates to diversity and responds to visuals. If you are starting a campaign, make sure to tailor it to social media and make sure it is sharable.
Generational hipsters were born social and started developing a brand for themselves from a young age. Myspace, Tumblr, Musically, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Reddit, Weheartit, Vine etc.; 92 percent of Gen Z has a digital footprint. Local coffee shops, #exploregon and thrifting have become a generational norm. Gen Z looks for uniqueness in their brand and what they consume. They are focused on being different, embracing globalization and diversity.
Being unique is trendy. This is creating even more need for PR professionals to target messaging to specific groups due to the expansive individuality and diversity of this generation. Take a look at Lynda.com and Facebook blueprint. In order to strategically target Gen Z, it is becoming essential to understand your target market and to use paid media as an advantage for your brand.
Due to the constant speed of social media, especially on channels like Snapchat and Vine, Gen Z is developing a shorter attention span. There is an instant gratification expectation. We are reshaping the way PR professionals are setting up campaigns because when we are doing five things at once there is a lack of observation and attention to detail that PR professionals pride themselves in. It takes a visual appeal to grab the attention of a Gen Z. But this should not dismiss the work ethic of Gen Z and the way they are reshaping the classroom and workplace in PR.
Gen Z has created a shift within the work and play boundaries, multitasking is increasing productivity for offices, and making work environments more desirable due to the blurred lines. This requires PR professionals to step up their game and target audiences in a compelling and relatable way. When creating messaging keep it short and sweet because your messaging is getting read in between a scroll.
Because Gen Z was immersed in technology growing up, they are thinking entrepreneurially. Gen Z likes independence, they are self-starters and 72 percent of teens in Gen Z desire to start their own business one day. A lot of what has shaped Gen Z is growing up in the recession in 2008 which is apparent in how much they value experiences and how frugal they are with their money.
Gen Z is not seeing the value in higher education like previous generations and employers are predicting more young adults go straight into the workforce. The cost versus gain to of school does not seem to be paying off in comparison to the loans Gen Zer’s will be paying off long after.
Gen Z values efficiency and knowledge is included. If there is a way for them to learn something in a more affordable, timely manner that is less traditional, they will most likely take that route. When targeting this audience taking an approach like Starbucks’ unicorn drink, five days only, for a drink most consumers wouldn’t traditionally purchase, not only makes Gen Z want to consume because of the uniqueness, but the limited time increases value for Gen Zer’s.
Gen Z expects brands to be loyal to them instead of the other way around. They want to feel appreciated. If they do not feel valued and appreciated they will take their loyalty somewhere else. Because Gen Z has grown up in a culture of innovation and technological advancements, they now expect this level of innovation instead of being amazed by how incredibly advanced technology truly is. As a PR person, sharing the values of the brand and how much you value your customers through messaging is crucial.
Gen Z is changing the PR and marketing world dramatically, causing us to be more strategic and technological when running campaigns. As a Gen Zer, I am sure some of these findings are relatable. Keep in mind now more than ever the importance of targeting.
By Erica Freeze
Broadening your professional network is essential for a smooth transition into the professional world. Your time in college is crucial for connecting with professionals and exploring possible career paths. So how do you meet potential employers? Here are four ways to get your foot in the door:
Join a career building group on-campus:
Student organizations across the country provide students with a variety of ways to network and meet new people. There are several on-campus clubs that can help broaden your professional network which includes: The International Business and Economics Club, Independent Society of Campus Journalists, UO Toastmasters, the American Institute of Architecture Students, and PRSSA. Many of these clubs bring in professionals to their meetings who give advice on how to succeed in a specific career path. The UO PRSSA chapter invites PR professionals bi-weekly to present at chapter meetings. These meetings can help you network and discover potential firms you might be interested in applying to after graduation.
Utilize the Career Center through the Professional Network:
As an enrolled student, you have access to a professional network through the Career Center. To gain access, you must complete an online networking workshop and quiz, and the login to your Duck Connect account. The Professional Network consists of UO alumni, parents, and friends committed to supporting you in exploring different career paths and preparing you for the working world. Browse various profiles and reach out to those who have a career that interests you in the professional network. If you gain a contact, ask if you can receive an onsite tour or set up a job shadow. This network is a great resource for engagement because all professionals in the network have agreed to share their time and professional expertise with UO students.
Connect with your instructor:
Many of your instructors have great connections in a variety of industries. Your instructors want to get to know you and help you succeed. Get to know your professors and see what realm of public relations each one specializes in. If they have similar interests to yours, don’t be afraid to ask for advice. They also still keep in touch with past students who have entered the public relations industry and can connect you with them. Instructors will often invite professionals into the classroom as well, so feel free to ask questions in class!
Set up an informational interview:
Before reaching out to a professional, look into a company you are interested in and research who they are, what they do and what they support. Once you have some knowledge about the company, ask the professional if they are willing to speak with you. Schedule a time that works for both of you, and be prepared to ask questions about their daily life at the company, any projects they are working on and the office environment. Remember that informational interviews are different from job interviews and that they do not guarantee a job.
Connect with professionals on LinkedIn:
LinkedIn is a wonderful resource for connecting with employers. If you don’t have a LinkedIn it is definitely time for you to set one up! Take the time to tailor your profile to show potential employers who you are. Many companies are on LinkedIn and you can narrow your searches by location, industry or job openings. LinkedIn is a great way to follow the employees at the companies you are interested in. You can message professionals on the platform and inquire about informational interviews or ask simple questions.
These are just a few ways to broaden your network. What are your tips and tricks for meeting potential employers?
By Lily Gordon
Goodwill is where you go to piece together a Marty McFly costume for under $20. Or where Macklemore gets his Velour jumpsuit and house slippers. Or maybe even where your aunt goes to snag some great gag gift. But in all of these scenarios, Goodwill is a place. It is a brick and mortar business. People go to Goodwill.
Well, that’s about to change all in the name of Goodwill’s mission:
“To enhance the dignity and quality of life of individuals and families by strengthening communities, eliminating barriers to opportunity, and helping people in need reach their full potential through learning and the power of work.”
That mission cannot be achieved without one simple thing, profits. More than 100 Goodwill stores have taken to the internet with the sole hope of boosting sales. The website, shopgoodwill.com, allows the retailer to sell items, typically higher priced merchandise such as jewelry, in an online auction similar to that of eBay. Going online has majorly payed off thus far. The Portland, Oregon Goodwill sites see more than a million dollars in online profits per month.
Goodwill’s move to an online shop demonstrates a clear understanding of millennials, one of the company’s top target markets. However, the non-profit has done a poor job of creating awareness about the online store. The Goodwill Industries Twitter actively promotes campaigns, interacts with customers and reiterates the company’s mission, but fails to mention shopgoodwill.com.
Whether or not shopgoodwill.com will ever become more successful than Goodwill brick and mortar stores is still up in the air. Clothes are a staple of the non-profit. When 20-somethings get excited about thrift shopping, scavenging clothing racks for great finds is typically what comes to mind. The fact is, however, clothing simply does not re-sell well online. That is something Goodwill’s public relations team will have to tackle if they intend to make shopgoodwill.com into the next generation’s idea of thrifting.
This is an exciting time for Goodwill’s PR teams across the United States and Canada. Despite the company’s blunders in the initial stages of its e-commerce appearance, it doesn’t mean it’s too late to shine. They haven’t done anything wrong— they just haven’t really done anything yet. It’s time for Goodwill to prove to millennials that thrift shopping is just as cool on a laptop as it is in a store.
By Lily Gordon
Protests are a quintessential part of democratic countries. Occupy Wall Street, the Civil Rights Movement, the Boston Tea Party— the good ol’ American protest has been proven to produce tangible change when addressing national policy or cultural issues. Perhaps the perfect Petri dish for protests and social activism is on a college campus. When a mass of people learning about the injustices of the world all live in one place, public demonstrations are bound to occur.
Dealing with protestors, or what strategic communicators so eloquently call “issues management,” isn’t exactly the highlight of most PR professionals’ week. I got the chance to sit down with Kyle Henley, the Vice President of Communications at the University of Oregon, and chat about the sometimes tricky topic of issue management on a college campus.
It seemed almost too fitting that on the way to Henley’s office I passed through a group of students from the UO Climate Justice League participating in a sit-in just a few feet from his door. Whereas in a large corporation the chief communications officer could stay in his or her corner office removed from demonstrators, a university is a small city. When neighbors are unhappy, they march right up to the offender’s front stoop.
Henley didn’t seem fazed by the guests in the atrium. He embodies his policy of keeping a level head when it comes to communicating. During our conversation, he mentioned countless morsels of PR wisdom, but a few core aspects stood out when it comes to approaching issues management. These are what I’m calling The Henley Keys to Communication Success.
Since the 1960s there have been loud student protests on American college campuses. “It’s not something we’re unaccustomed to dealing with,” says Henley. There are certain issues every university administration can anticipate— tuition, campus safety, feelings of inequality— and that makes it easier to develop proactive strategies. According to Henley the UO is a “well oiled machine” when it comes to controversy. Like any large corporation, the university’s communications team forecasts potential issues that could occur taking into consideration the student body’s demographics, upcoming changes, and other factors unique to the school.
“What’s the challenge? What are the answers and information you’ll need? And how will you communicate it?” Henley says these are the three questions to ask when addressing any communications problem. PR often faces criticism for being “all spin,” but when facing social activists, a brand must decipher the facts in order to develop a realistic path forward. Once the truth is evident to brand communicators, which may or may not align with activists’ demands, clear and consistent messaging can follow.
Henley admits he is the forty-five-year-old dad who really likes Facebook but doesn’t have the bandwidth to do the “other ones,” meaning Twitter, Snapchat, et cetera. He also acknowledges the major role social media plays in vocal student dissatisfaction. That’s why the university communications department has individuals who understand every in and out of these platforms tracking the conversation. Law enforcement even plays a role when it comes to monitoring the UO Yik Yak. The point is a person cannot become an expert on everything. A distinguishing characteristic of great PR professionals is that they can find the right experts and aren’t bothered by asking for assistance.
“Even if you have a job that you love, and I do, don’t let your job define you,” Henley said. “Find something you’re passionate about and invest in that.” Henley is a family man who enjoys cycling and cooking among other hobbies. Besides keeping a person sane, Henley notes the valuable perspective gained by having a fulfilling life outside of the office. PR is all about balance: what the brand wants compared to what consumers are demanding, having an online presence but also remaining personable, bringing creativity into the mix while keeping messaging accurate and clear. Balance is ultimately the key to professional communicating success be it personally, when dealing with a long-term branding project, or even when protestors come calling.
By Kate Klosno
By now, we’ve all been given a lesson on what is and is not appropriate to wear to work. For as long as I can remember, all the talks are pretty much the same: boys should have their shirts tucked in to nice pants and girls should look presentable and modest with appropriate hair and makeup. So why has the conversation of business attire for women been such a hot topic lately?
Some professionals believe that it is inappropriate for a woman to wear a dress for any business professional setting. I had never heard of this until recently, and it sparked my curiosity. So, I asked people from my generation and generations before what they thought business attire for women meant to them. I thought there might be a possibility that because just a few decades ago, people dressed much more modest than now, that maybe that influenced what people believe to be appropriate in the modern workplace.
From the opinions that I heard, it seems that most people are still going by the same guidelines that we learned back in high school. What are your thoughts on business attire? Do you agree with the opinions above, or do you think it’s inappropriate for a woman to wear a dress to work?
By Lily Gordon
The road to thriving company and consumer relationships with a reputable public image can often be bumpy. Largely in part to its relatively new, and disputed, business model, ride-sharing app, Uber has been a star on the Turbulent Public Relations Speedway. While in the driver’s seat, the Uber PR team has navigated controversies ranging from sexual assault charges to sabotaging competitors like rival ride-sharing app, Lyft and traditional taxi services. Uber is available in over 50 countries and 300 cities worldwide and recently has been made unavailable in Eugene, Ore.
Eugene has had a large number of individuals make public appeals in favor of Uber, but other cities have experienced the opposite, like the January 2015 Portland protest pictured above, calling for the ride-sharing app to adhere to city transit laws. (Photo by Aaron Parecki, CC BY 2.0)
History of Eugene Uber
University of Oregon students as well as community members enjoyed the convenience of Uber from summer 2014 until the ride-sharing app had to halt Eugene operations in April 2015. The Eugene City Council met with Uber representatives to negotiate terms under which the company could legally operate in the city. The council eventually released a proposal outlining the requirements Uber would need to meet before continuing to service the Eugene area. It has been 1o months since operations halted, and Uber has yet to make any public moves toward adopting new policies in order to relaunch legally in Eugene.
PR Victory Laps
Über in German means “above” or “over,” and Uber definitely went above and beyond in several aspects of its Eugene Uber campaign, specifically in encouraging civic participation and releasing strategic statements.
Whether the petition to “Support Uber Eugene!” would have been as successful as it has been is questionable had Uber itself not initiated and promoted it. Even earlier this week on the University of Oregon campus, individuals were imploring passersby to sign the petition. Public protests and petitions have in the past been used against the app, but in the instance of Eugene Uber, the power of the people is undeniably being channeled in Uber’s favor. The company seems to have learned from past fallouts and was proactive enough to give a voice to the “correct” side in the debate.
The fact Uber already had a positive reputation in the Eugene community and strong relationships made the “Support Uber Eugene!” campaign more feasible. During the company’s seven-month stint in the area, it partnered with University of Oregon Greek life by supporting fundraisers for the Oregon Make A Wish Foundation.
The app’s victory lap in the campaign to relaunch in Eugene has been fueled by, as simple as it sounds, tactful statements. In other legal controversies Uber has cited itself as a “technology company” rather than a “ride-sharing business.” Uber claims it is solely responsible for the app-based aspects of the service, but many city governments have rejected this argument.
PR Fender Benders
Despite the successes of Uber’s PR in Eugene, there have been a few missteps during the campaign to relaunch Eugene operations. Uber has appealed to the city council via petitions and letter to no avail. At this point, it seems the company’s resources would be better used by simply abiding by the regulations put forth.
Unfortunately for those in the Eugene area hoping to get an Uber ride home after graduation parties in June, the prospects look fairly bleak. While the company has gone above and beyond by encouraging civic participation, building a positive local reputation, and releasing strong statements, the Eugene City Council is unbudging. Sometimes even the best PR cannot combat legal requirements. But until Uber crosses that finish line into Track Town, it will be interesting to keep an eye on the company’s progress on the PR Speedway.
Even a junior in college, I still struggle with the difference between business casual and business professional attire. As if an interview is already stressful enough, deciding how to dress just adds to the anxiety. Instead of reviewing the values of your potential hiring company and practicing various interview techniques, you seem to spend an awfully long time choosing what to wear. So with a new job or internship in your future, or even as you being attending career fairs and various PRSSA networking events, it’s important to know what is appropriate to wear and when. Hopefully, you already have some basic business-appropriate garments in your closet, ready to use. But if you don’t, it’s time to start building you “work wardrobe.” Here’s your guide to office-ready essentials for any situation.
This is not casual in the way you may hope. This means jeans and sneakers do not apply. It is important to maintain a professional presence, even if you’re not in a suit and tie or a dress and heels. Remember, you are a direct representation of your organization, so you want to make an effort, no matter what day of the week.
Business professional style expectations may vary across industries but there are basics to a professional look. Professional attire always means:
Business causal can mean different things to different employers. And unfortunately, there is no strict definition of the phrase. Until you are sure about its definition, dress professionally. One of my mentors once told me that it is better to be over dressed than under dressed. Take this into consideration when dressing for an interview or for your first day on the job. Make sure to ask yourself, “What do i want my first impression to be?”
Sophie Lair is a junior at the University of Oregon, majoring in public relations and minoring in French. She is obsessed with her little white five-pound puppy and never misses an episode of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.” She hopes to pursue a career in the fashion industry.
Recently, I took an interview with a PR agency for a post-graduation job oppurtunity. One HR director and four employees in 60 minutes; I was nervous.
Before the interview, I sent the HR director my resume, and the four employees had the oppurtunity to review it and Google me online. After about 10 minutes with the HR director, it was time to meet this first two employees; both account directors for different clients. After initial “hello’s” and “how are you doing?,” the first thing one of the account directors said was, “I really enjoyed reviewing your resume and your website. It was nice to have something other than a resume to see what you’re all about.”
I was automatically thankful that over the past six months I had kept my online portfolio and blog up-to-date.
There are many times we hear from professors, current students, and graduated students from the School of Journalism and Communication mention that having an online presence is huge. Having a website that houses your work puts you ahead of the game, and connecting it your blog is a major plus. Often we find this to be time consuming, especially with all the work we’re constantly doing for our classes, keeping a website up-to-date is difficult.
I get it. Designing the site, reviewing your work before you upload it, and putting just the basics up seems like a weekends worth of time that could be used doing other things that have hard deadlines.
If I told you that one of the reasons I moved forward in my interview process was because of the work presented on my website, would that change your mind about it? I bet it will make you consider it.
I was on the fence about creating my own site for a year, until I heard a similar story from three of my friends who graduated last year. They’re now working for two national PR agencies; the top-dogs of PR agencies.
I’m not saying having a website is going to get you a job. An online portfolio and blog will give an employer more of an insight to see your skillset that may not be all on your resume.
Here are three tips to help you get started with your online portfolio and blog:
1. Utilize the blog writing assignments in your early journalism classes.
Yes, I’m talking about that WordPress blog you had to create in J452, or the guest-student blogs you had to write in a topics class. These are writing samples. Take them seriously, but also take advantage of the opportunity. If you’re anything like me, you’re not a blog writer. Maybe because you don’t like writing blogs or maybe you don’t feel as though you have the time. That’s OK. Classes that freely give you the chance to write a post that will be publishes online is something you should be excited about, not dead.
2. Look at current or graduated students’ websites and blogs for inspiration.
Chances are, many of the assignments you are currently doing has been given to students before you. Not everyone presents themselves the same way. Find inspiration from either online portfolios or blogs on WordPress and Squarespace. Once you can imagine how your website will look, it’s a lot easier to actually see yourself owning one.
3. Grab a few friends to help create the site.
If you don’t have a website because you feel as though you aren’t “creative enough” or you “don’t have design skills,” open your eyes to the peers you’re surrounded by. Many of your friends in the journalism school are talented folks. If you’re struggling with creating the basics of website, and I mean just creating a Wordpress account and becoming familiar with the interface, grab a friend to help show you the ropes. Don’t know how to code or you’re confused on how to get an image on the site? Chances are someone in your class has done it before. Looking for a design guru? Ask an advertising major for some recommendations.
Think of your website being on extension of your personal brand. Your resume can’t tell your entire story. Your online website can.
Abigaelle Mulligan is currently a senior at the University of Oregon, majoring in public relations and minoring in business administration. Upon graduation, she is joining the Grow Marketing Team in San Francisco. She enjoys learning about upcoming digital and experiential marketing and how it affects the public relations and advertising realm.
Internships are a great way to start your career in the public relations industry. Most of us focus on how to get an internship and how to excel during the internship, but the importance of what you should do after your internship is over is often overlooked. Here are five things you can do to ensure that you get the most out of your experience.
1. Don’t forget to say ‘thank you’
Remember to say ‘thank you’ to everyone you feel necessary. Send well thought out, handwritten letters to the company stating specific reasons you are appreciative for the experience. Remember to also thank specific people you worked with while you were there.
2. Don’t lose touch
Keeping in touch with fellow interns, co-workers and managers can be a great way to build your network. These people can also potentially get you connected with other great career opportunities. Be sure to send them an email occasionally to see how they’re doing or ask them out to coffee every once in a while.
3. Ask for feedback
Your boss can give you solid advice on your development as both a student, and a new member of the workplace. Show that you are open to constructive criticism and ask for feedback on how you are doing in the company. This will also show that you truly care about the work you are doing and strive to do better.
4. Ask for a letter of recommendation
Once your internship is over, don’t be too shy to ask for a reference or a letter of recommendation. Even if you realize that you do not want to pursue the field that your internship was in, your boss can still express your dedication, intelligence and overall work ethic. If you ask for a general letter of recommendation based on your performance, you can use it for multiple opportunities.
5. Don’t badmouth anyone
If you weren’t completely pleased with the way your internship went, it’s best not to vocalize it publicly. Keep your professional reputation in mind and never talk poorly about your employer on any social media platforms. Word of mouth can travel faster than you may think and the last thing you want to do is burn bridges within your network.
A little less than two years ago, I sat in a large introduction to public relations class. Hundreds of students sat in desks around me, and I’ll admit, it was a bit intimidating looking at how many of my peers would be going into the same job market as myself. How was I going to stand out? How was I supposed to know how to land an internship or job? What did I need to focus on during my time in the School of Journalism and Communication? I was brand new to the program, and although I didn’t know what the future of PR would hold for me, I was eager to learn everything I could to succeed in the industry.
Fast forward. It’s my last term of college, and I just returned home from a full day of work at my PR and marketing internship. Two years have flown by, but I learned so much and took on many opportunities to get where I am today. For me, it was mostly trial and error, figuring out the answers to those questions I asked myself in that big classroom.
If you are one of those students who is just starting out on the PR track feeling nervous like I did, I have some great news for you. You can get all the inside scoop about classes, instructors, internship tips and more by doing one simple thing. Join the PRSSA mentorship program! I am taking the time to tell you about this incredible program because I was not fortunate enough to be a mentee during my time of need. If I had a mentor during my journey through the PR sequence, my questions would have been answered by a peer who already went through the same experiences. Your peers are often some of the greatest sources of knowledge when it comes to the process of working your way through the sequence and on to the professional world.
I’m going to switch gears to address those of you who have already embarked partway through the PR sequence. The mentorship program is just as important for you as it is for those students just starting out. Become a mentor! I started in the program as a mentor, and it has been such a rewarding experience. Not only are you able to give advice to a peer just starting the sequence, (who doesn’t feel good when helping someone out?) but you also learn from them as well. I’m confident my mentee and I will continue to stay in touch. We learn from each other and encourage each other as we take on new opportunities, which is an awesome connection to take away from this experience.
There’s nothing better than Ducks helping Ducks, and this program gives PR students a way to start building those relationships while you’re still at the SOJC. For more information about the program, check out the PRSSA website.
Kati VanLoo is a senior at the University of Oregon graduating in June. She has interned in both the corporate and agency settings, including her current position she holds as a part of the Portland Senior Experience. During her time at the SOJC she was an account supervisor for Allen Hall Public Relations, a writer for Her Campus Oregon and a mentor in the PRSSA mentorship program. Check out her PR lifestyle blog or follow her on Twitter at @Katelyn_VanLoo.