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.
As June approaches, graduating seniors are anxious to finish their final classes and finally dawn on those green caps and gowns. But then comes planning for life post-grad. Navigating job listings can often be frustrating. but Twitter can be a great way to find recent job postings. Here are six Twitter resources to help you land a great job:
1. Follow @PRSSANational. Lauren Rosenbaum, PRSSA Vice President of Public Relations, regularly tweets about internships and jobs that are on the PRSSA internship center.
2. Follow @SOJCCareers. The SOJC Advising Office tweets about many local jobs and internships, as well as some national opportunities.
3. Follow @ComeRecommended. Come Recommended is a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies. They tweet helpful job-hunting strategies, and occasionally tweet about national job opportunities.
4. Follow companies that you want to work for. Sometimes those brands will post job openings, but even if they don’t, it is good to learn about that company and what a job might look like with them.
5. Follow professors such as @KelliMatthews. SOJC faculty members often tweet job search advice, as well as any local jobs and internships she learns about.
6. Follow job-listing aggregators, such as @marketjobsUSA, @comminternships, and @EntryPRJobs. These are excellent resources for the newest job listings across the country.
Even if you aren’t looking for a job, it’s helpful to know what sort of skills are necessary for your dream job. Take the time to browse current listings, identify the companies and positions that catch your eye, and make your job search efforts count.
Post by Aimee Gregg, UO PRSSA member for the 2012-2013 school year. You can contact Aimee through our blog editor at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Paid or unpaid, navigating the role of intern for the first time can be a challenge for anyone. Internship experience is an important part of building your resume as a student. Here are some of our favorite tips for being successful in an internship role:
1. Dress Professionally. Be sure to dress appropriately and modestly at your internship. Be wary of cleavage and be sure your skirt is at least knee length. Your office is not the place to showcase your eccentric personal style. “Inappropriate dress will hurt your quest for professional respect,” said Lorra Brown (PR Daily). Take a look around you, get a feel for the office dress code, and look to model that.
2. Understand Your Manager’s Expectations. Your managers do not expect you to know how to do everything. They do, however, expect you to be able to follow directions. Bring paper and a pen to meetings so that you can write detailed notes when your manager is speaking. Don’t hesitate to ask questions; you want to leave the meeting with a clear understanding of how to complete any given task. Be sure to brainstorm ideas before reaching out to your supervisor so you come prepared and with a possible solution to the problem you are trying to address.
3. Learn to Take Criticism. At some point in your internship you will receive criticism. Your supervisors criticize your work for your benefit as well as the organizations. If you aren’t receiving any feedback, just ask; constructive criticism is key to improvement.
4. Act as an Employee. Although you are an intern, you should conduct yourself with the dignity and integrity of an employee. “Employers frequently criticize interns for lacking problem-solving abilities or their unwillingness to be proactive in generating ideas,” Lorra Brown (PR Daily) Keep yourself busy even when you don’t have a project to work on, ask others if they need help, and bring creative ideas to meetings.
5. Be an Advocate for Your Goals. Be clear with your manager about your expectations for the internship. If you begin the internship with the intention of gaining a certain skill, or creating a particular portfolio piece, communicate that with your manager. If they don’t know what your expectations are, you may end up performing a greater number of mundane office tasks. Your goals are an important priority, however, you are in charge of achieving them!
Post by Katie Keene, PRSSA member for the 2012-2013 school year. You can contact Katie through our blog editor: email@example.com.
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.
The secret to a standout resume is to measure your results, and you’ll need to plan ahead to do this. Here are the steps to follow:
1. Identify the ultimate goal of your efforts. Why are you about to engage in this public relations endeavor? What is the purpose?
2. Set objectives. Your objectives are how you measure whether you’ve achieved your goal, so each objective must be measurable. To set objectives, you’ll want to find out what your past performance was. You want to do better than last time, but you don’t want to set objectives that are tough to reach. Make sure to set your objectives with your manager.
Ideally, you’ll have access to the organization’s prior performance, so you can report the difference you have made (e.g., increased museum memberships by 5 percent).
If you cannot get information about the organization’s prior performance, you can at least report on your resume whether you met your objectives, and you can potentially report that you exceeded your objectives by a particular percentage (e.g., exceeded attendance objective by 20 percent).
If you will manage your organization’s social media, make sure to use tools to measure your organization’s performance before you take the helm. You can find these tools through an Internet search for “[name of tool] measurement.”
Some of my favorite measurement tools are Edelman’s TweetLevel and BlogLevel, Statigram, and PinPuff. There are plenty of other good tools, as well. Facebook has built-in metrics you can use through Facebook Insights, which you can access as soon as you’re an account administrator. Make sure to record the “before” scores, so you can measure the percentage of improvement at the end of your internship. You might also take some screenshots of the before and after measurements, which would be good visual illustrations for the professional portfolio you’ll prepare during J454.
Another important online tool is bitly, which you can use to measure the number of times people have clicked on a link you share.
3. Measure your results. To figure out the percentage change between your performance and the prior performance, follow this simple formula:
A. Subtraction: Your performance – prior performance = X
B. Division: X divided by the prior performance
Then move your decimal to the right by two numbers, and you have your percentage change.
Guest post by Professor Tiffany Gallicano, public relations faculty member for the UO School of Journalism and Communication. Visit her blog The PR Post.
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!
You know the “six degrees of separation” theory? In Eugene, I think everyone is three-degrees apart, at most. The connectedness of a small market has some advantages and some disadvantages, depending on how you look at it and what you’re looking for.
In the world of agency PR, a small market has some major pluses:
I can think of two drawbacks of working in Eugene. But with time and learning, I’ve overcome them, so that may null my findings:
I found a few organizations that offered professional and personal connections in my playing field – the Eugene Chamber of Commerce’s Young Professionals Network and the Eugene Active 20-30 Club. The former hosts monthly networking events and the latter is a community service organization. By participating in both, I now have many new friends and see familiar faces at almost any community event.
I would imagine, however, that a larger city offers a more thriving young professional scene. Even co-workers could be of similar age and interests as recent grads.
But, in my opinion, here’s the catch: You might be working on accounts like Apple, Subway or L’Oreal, but you could be on the fifth or sixth rung of the ladder – a place where upper management may not remember your name and you’ll rarely get to talk with a client face to face.
My “Pros” and “Cons” list shows five-to-two. That’s a win for small markets.
From my perspective, starting your career in a small market is the perfect training ground to develop skills and experience you’ll need if and when you decide to launch into a larger market. But I’m biased because I haven’t experienced professional life elsewhere.
Eugene is indeed a small world after all. But it’s made a big impact on my personal and professional growth.
During spring agency tours on Friday, May 3, the University of Oregon PRSSA chapter had the pleasure of sitting down with Bob Frause, CEO and founder of Frause in Seattle, Washington. In addition to his prominent role within the public relations industry, Frause is extensively involved with the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) as a member of the National Board of Directors and Past Chairman of the PRSA College of Fellows. He also sits on the PRSA Board of Ethics and Professional Standards. Frause’s substantial experience in the industry has allowed him the opportunity to develop several important tactics to help young professionals in the PR job search.
1) Remember that every interview is a real interview. In the process of looking for a job, informational interviews have become a popular tool for networking with professionals. However, just because you are not actively applying for an open position does not mean you should take it any less seriously. When you set up an informational interview, prepare for it in the same way you would for an interview for an open position. Make sure to research both your interviewer and the company. Be ready to ask he or she specific questions that show you have done your homework. By the end of the interview, you should make the professional wish he had on open position or room in his budget to hire you. You never know when this could lead to a job offer.
2) Put interests at the bottom of your resume or in your cover letter. Recently, many students have been advised not to include interests unrelated to public relations on their resume. Though according to Frause, curiosity outside the industry is something he looks for in a potential hire. If you are interested in travel or cooking, find a way to integrate these interests into how you present yourself because this will suggest that you are a more rounded and experienced individual. You also never know when these outside interests will coincide with client work making you an ideal person for the team.
3) Ask for a job and don’t take the first “no.” During an interview it is important to remember your self worth and prove that to your interviewer. If you don’t think you are the best person for the job there is no reason the person or people interviewing you will either. In Frause’s opinion, at some point during the interview, it is important to ask for the job. Though many times you will be told no, you can then spend the rest of the interview proving why you should be hired for that job. This tactic also shows self-confidence and your ability to be a leader. Frause admits this might not be a good tactic for all interviews, but suggests that you should be able to establish if this will work during initial research for the interview.
4) Get at least two professional contacts before you leave. At the end of an interview, make sure to thank them and ask to be put on the list for future open positions. This shows that you would like to continue a relationship with that person and the company. After thanking her, ask for any contacts they might have that you could use to expand your network. Frause’s advice is to leave with at least two new contacts that might be beneficial to you.
5) Create a graphic biography of yourself. One tool that Frause suggests is something he calls a graphic biography of yourself. This should be a roadmap of who you are as a person and a professional. You could use this in your portfolio or in an interview to help you stay focused on what you want to convey about yourself. This can also be useful to have in front of you during a telephone or Skype interview to help you steer the conversation and prevent you from forgetting something you wish to share about yourself.
6) Avoid misusing pronouns. Though sometimes this aspect of writing and speaking can be forgotten, Frause says that this is one of his main pet peeves and a mistake he encounters frequently. All grammar is important and proper use of pronouns contributes to your overall image as an educated individual.
Making the right impression during an interview – whether it is formal or simply an informational one – can make the difference in getting a job offer. Frause advises young professionals to be proactive, confident and unafraid to ask the hard questions during the job search. What do you think of Frause’s professional advice?