Guest Blog Post by Josh Wei, Founder of UltraPress, the fastest and cheapest place for custom apparel.
There’s a commonly perpetuated lie in the small business world. It goes like this: “You can’t be successful at PR, because it’s too expensive.” Unfortunately, many SBOs take this statement as fact and never even attempt to develop a PR strategy. As a result, they’re left scrambling to compete against bigger companies with deeper pockets.
While PR can get expensive, it doesn’t have to be out of your price range. For even just a few hundred dollars per year, you can invest in a full-fledged PR campaign that pushes your brand to the top. However, you have to be willing to ignore the noise and silence the myths.
PR Isn’t Optional
Contrary to what some say, PR is not optional. Regardless of the size of your business, the industry you operate in, and the budget you have at your disposal, you can’t ignore PR. As soon as you have a product created and a brand developed, you must begin working on relationship building.
According to business writer Jerome Cleary, there are four main reasons why PR matters for a small business. They are as follows:
Basically, you can’t afford to ignore PR. And while it may cost you time, resources, and money to develop and maintain a strategy, it doesn’t have to break the bank.
5 Free or Cheap PR Options and Solutions
So, how exactly can you do PR on a budget? Well, you need to arm yourself with the right tools and solutions. The good news is that many are free or cheap, including the following:
Out of all the online PR services available, HARO – or Help a Reporter Out – is by far the best. This service works by connecting reporters with a variety of potential sources for stories. It’s designed to be a two-way street that helps both journalists and brands.
The service gives journalists the ability to find relevant stories, while simultaneously allowing brands to secure valuable media coverage. If you take a look at the HARO website, you’ll notice that a number of media outlets use the service, including TIME, Mashable, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, ABC, and more. You can learn more about how HARO works from the brand side by checking out their How it Works page. Subscriptions run from free all the way up to $149 per month for a premium account.
Do you sell physical products? Do you want to get the word out about your product? Tomoson may be the answer. This software manages and matches influencers with brands for valuable reviews and social proof. It allows you to give products away to bloggers and people in your target market with the hope of creating some buzz. You can then see who has received your products, talked about them on social media, and posted about them on their blogs.
There are currently more than 20,000 influencers on Tomoson, and the site is growing by the day. It’s a really great way to kick start organic growth and grassroots sharing. For a business account, you can start out with a free 30-day trial. After that, monthly accounts range from $99 to $499 per month.
Honestly, one of the best things you can do is start guest blogging. You don’t even have to write about your brand or products. Just start building relationships with different industry blogs and make sure a byline is included as part of the compensation. Also, don’t be surprised if it’s the only compensation.
As you start accumulating profiles, you’ll begin to gain some name recognition in the industry. Ultimately, this will lead to brand recognition. And once you’ve built enough equity, you may even be able to start writing about your business and products.
This is obviously a long-term approach, but it’s something every smart business owner should do. These blogging relationships are the modern day equivalent of knowing your local newspaper writers. They’ll help immensely in the long run. If you’re unsure of how to find guest blogging relationships, try Guestr. This website shows you which websites and blogs are looking for guest contributors.
Another very simple thing you can do is get in touch with media members via Twitter. You want to avoid being creepy or obnoxious, but sending an occasional direct message, retweeting posts, and responding to tweets is a great way to make an introduction. After all, you’re much more likely to have a pitch accepted if the person at least knows your name.
Part of being successful in PR is accurately tracking your progress and gaining insights into how your different efforts and campaigns are being perceived in the marketplace. Once your name gets out there and you have multiple things happening, it’s difficult to do this manually. This is where PR monitoring tools come into play.
There are a number of cheap or free options available. HubSpot has compiled a list of the top 18 tools for monitoring and managing media relations. There are some really good ones on this list. Look through them and see if you can find some that align with your brand.
If you’re just starting out with PR, you may not need these tools yet. They are designed for brands that already have campaigns in place. However, over time, you’ll find that they are invaluable. It’s better to start using them in advance than it is to learn about them on the fly.
PR Doesn’t Have to be Expensive
Your competitors want you to believe that PR is expensive. They want you to think that it’s something only Fortune 500 companies and large organizations with massive budgets can get involved with. And while you may not be able to afford a full-time publicist, there are plenty of things you can do to push your brand forward and find opportunities.
PR doesn’t have to be expensive if you use the right tools and understand how to stretch your budget. Keep these five options in mind and start to develop a cost-effective PR strategy that allows you to achieve success in 2016 and beyond.
By Arunima Bhattacharjee
While you’re a a pre-journalism student at the School of Journalism and Communication (SOJC), you might have asked yourself a few questions before deciding the perfect major for yourself. Some people believe that creativity is for advertising, writing skills for journalism and dealing with people is public relations. So, which skills do you identify with the most? Well, all three majors require extensive communication, creativity and writing skills. However, the second question that might cross your mind is which major will most likely land me with a job after graduation? Well then it’s time we explore this question because the career you choose will impact how much money you will make in the future.
According to “The Guardian,” the competition in the journalism field is “immense.” It takes some time to land with a good paying job as a journalist and you need to know your technology before heading into the job market. The journalism school here at the University of Oregon (UO) will teach you the necessary technological knowledge, but the rest is on you. You need to be up-to-date with all the available software for editing and creating multimedia. It’s also important to create a portfolio; this will show them what you’ve learned while in school. In addition, the average salary for a journalist is in between $24,000 to $71,000 annually.
If you are thinking that you will sit at a leather chair with a window view in Manhattan at an advertisement agency, like “Mad Men”, then think again. Peggy didn’t get her own office on her first day of work. She had an entry-level position and then got promoted to different levels because she was able to demonstrate unique skills and creative thinking. That’s what advertisement agencies want in new graduating undergrads. If you intern in an advertising firm while in college, it is more likely that same firm will be willing to hire you full-time after you graduate. According to the “Payscale Human Capital”, the salary at an advertising firm will be between $32,000 and $71,000 annually, this can also vary on which part of advertisement you are interested in going into.
Public relations, on the other hand are outpacing journalism. According to the “Pew Research Center” the salary gap between PR specialist and a news reporter is almost $20,000 annually. A new survey from the University of Georgia found that new graduates earn on average $35,000 a year when they get into the public relations career. The number of employed PR specialists is expected to jump from 258,100 in 2010 to 316,200 by 2020. This projection equates to a 23% rise in employment.
By Pablo Lopez
Connie Chandler, a public relations instructor in the School of Journalism, gives us her top-three reasons to build relationships with our instructors on campus.
Networking. Networking. Networking.
This word gets thrown around at us in college classrooms like our parents reminding us to eat our vegetables at the dinner table. But like our vegetables, why is it important?
More importantly, why should we network with instructors that we have to deal with for 10 weeks? Ten weeks should be more than enough time, right? Wrong.
Personally, I rather call it “building relationships.” It doesn’t sound as professional, but as students, I think we’re here to look at instructors as our friends and not as an associate that we’re competing with, dreading to ask them for help and cringing at the thought that they’ll embarrass you in front of the boss.
It’s true, we have a lot on our plate. It is almost impossible to meet with instructors when you’re trying to balance the workload of four or five classes while working a daily job that requires countless hours of physical labor.
Connie Chandler, a public relations instructor in the School of Journalism and Communication (SOJC) agrees. Chandler says, “Students are busy. And going to office hours, if you feel like you have a pretty good handle on what’s going on in the class, may seem like it’s too much to add to your schedule. But I think that the other part that students need to think about is that the instructors in the program that you’re in –in this case PR – really care about where you end up.”
These are Chandler’s three reasons to build a relationship with instructors.
1. Connection: We are here to learn from instructors.
It’s obvious that books cannot teach us everything. We can go to class twice a week, ace the course, and still be oblivious to what’s going on in the work place. Chandler says one of the best reasons to build a relationship with instructors is not only because they ‘have great deal of knowledge on the skills we are learning,’ but because they have ‘a fair amount of practical experience in the work place that you want to go into using those skills.’ They’re here to help; use them.
2. Good Practice: Instructors welcome “cold emails”
It’s an awkward, and sometimes intimidating introduction that you have no idea how to approach. As hard as it sounds, it’s not that bad. Instructors know that we have questions, and sure we might sound a little nervous, but don’t be hesitant and just do it.
Chandler explains that it’s as easy as sending an email. “Most instructors in, for example, the PR sequence, would be open to even just an email that says: ‘I’m a student in the public relations program and I know you are an instructor in the program with a special interest in leadership – for example like Dave Remund has – and I’d like to sit and talk with you. Can we do that sometime?’”
If you have a relationship with an instructor already, she recommends you simply ask to be introduced either virtually or in person with another instructor in the department that they think would be a good person for you to sit and talk with.
3. Access to Opportunities: Guidance into the right path
If you’re reading this, you’re most likely in the same boat as I am. We need a well-trained sailor to help us get to the destination we’re trying to reach. Which is exactly where the instructors come in to play. Chandler shares, “part of helping you get to that place is certainly the skills that you’re learning in the classrooms, but it’s also in getting to understand what you’re specifically interested in as an individual and helping in anyway that we can to guide you toward the path that you really want to take.” An exceptional staff surrounds us in the SOJC, and ultimately, they are here to help.
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.
Every term UO PRSSA plans a trip to a different city to visit public relations and communications agencies. Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, Eugene, and soon to be Santa Monica, are a few of the cities PRSSA has visited and will be visiting in the future. Attending an agency tour has numerous benefits, however, you may still be unsure about what those are. If so, here are five reasons why you should go on an agency tour.
Attending an agency tour allows you to make face-to-face connections with professionals in cities you may not have other opportunities to visit. By attending an agency tour, you are able to create connections with professionals that may lead to internships or jobs. By making these connections in person, your professional relationships become stronger and you’re likely to make a lasting impression.
Professional Q&A sessions take up a large quantity of time on agency tours. During these sessions, you are able to practice asking questions you may ask in an informational interview at an agency. You are also able to network with the professionals in the offices and are able to practice your elevator pitch. The agencies we visit want to get to know you and help hone your skills.
We visit many different kinds of PR, communications and marketing agencies on our tours. The agencies we visit focus on industries ranging from tech, lifestyle, food & beverage, fashion, hospitality, consumer, business-to-business, and more. We also visit agencies that are small and boutique, or large and global sized. If you are unsure about what areas of PR you might be interested in, this is a great way to explore and learn more.
Attending an agency tour also means you get to know fellow PRSSA members. It is always great to make new friends (especially those who share your major) and attending an agency tour is a perfect way to bond!
Visiting a new city with PRSSA will open your eyes to new places. Going on an agency tour provides you with the opportunity to enjoy an awesome city for a few days. By the end of the tour you may even find your new home post graduation. Either way, you are guaranteed to have amazing new experiences and connections after attending a PRSSA agency tour.
Tatiana Skomski is a junior studying public relations. She is originally from San Diego, California, and loves spending time with her dog. After she graduates, she hopes to relocate to Souther California and begin her career working at an agency. Tatiana specifically wants to work in lifestyle and consumer branding public relations.