By Kate Templeton
Winter break was great, but now we need to refocus as we begin the new term. Below are a few tips to get back into the swing of things and have a successful 10 weeks!
Organize Your Planner
You will be shocked how much better your life is with a planner. It has been proven that writing words down actually helps people retain information better than just reading it. By having a visual list of the work you need to complete, you will be able to actually visualize and better organize the tasks at hand. Plus, I have to admit, I find it very satisfying to cross a completed task off my list!
Winter term is not only a new term, but also a new year! Whether you made New Year resolutions or not, setting some goals for yourself will help start your term off right. It doesn’t matter if your goals are small or large — they will help you keep your focus on what you want to achieve.
Start a Routine
Be proactive and create a routine for yourself. I know that it’s syllabus week and we all want to lie around and finish the TV shows that we binge-watched all winter break. However, implementing a solid and effective routine at the beginning of the term will help you be more successful as the term progresses.
Start Healthy Habits
My next tip is simpler said than done! Starting a consistent workout routine and eating healthier food choices is easier now than when the term gets busy later on. It is crucial to be in both a healthy and a happy mindset. Winter term can bring on seasonal sadness due to the lack of sun and shorter daylight hours. Being mentally and emotionally positive is extremely important to keep your spirits up these next 10 weeks!
I hope these tips help and everyone has a happy and successful 2018!
By Talia Smith, UO PRSSA Communications Director and former Veracity intern
For our last meeting of Fall term, Amy Rosenberg of Veracity Marketing in Portland was kind enough to drive down to Eugene to talk to our chapter about traditional versus digital PR. As we found out, there is no difference.
Amy’s presentation was unique to our guest speaker lineup as we had yet to learn about digital PR and how it can be the “secret weapon to SEO.” Many of us have heard of SEO and know it’s important, but we don’t really know what role we will play in SEO as PR students and aspiring professionals. Amy did a great job explaining what we can do to start thinking digitally to make media coverage go further while helping clients maximize their online presence.
First, if your client doesn’t have a website, encourage them to create one or outsource someone to make a “SEO-friendly” site. Amy compared a company’s website to a flyer, except this flyer doesn’t end up at the bottom of your purse. A website provides your brand’s stakeholders with a platform to learn more about them and follow up. “If you don’t have a presence online, you don’t exist,” Amy said. The call to action of most of your PR efforts are going to lead back to this website which is why it is essential your client has one.
Once your client has a website, you need to help people find it which is where SEO comes in. In a nutshell, websites can get lost in a sea of search results on Google and Bing and SEO helps a site rank higher to garner more clicks. Let’s be real, no one is going to click to the second page of Google. In order for a website to be useful it must appear in the top results when using keywords associated with your brand. Blogging provides a website more keywords for people to search.
Once a website and blog are up and running, PR and social media can be used to drive viewers to the site through links. When it comes to securing media coverage, Amy suggests keeping your pitch to five sentences or less and linking out to a press release as reporters appreciate brevity. Also, don’t spam anyone. Instead, take the time to personalize a pitch and offer the same respect to all positions in the newsroom. Amy says bloggers and writers are the most important people in the newsroom to PR professionals because they could be editors five years down the road.
Once you secure media coverage, it is imperative to get the link so it can be sent to your client and shared on social media, an important step to amplifying viewers. It is also wise to have an “In the News” tab on a website and have an ongoing list of links to recent media coverage. If you can’t find a link to coverage you know you secured, Amy recommends asking the digital editor who is responsible for placing stories on a traditional news media outlet’s website. You might feel like you are bothering someone just for a link but Amy assures that these digital editors understand you are asking for SEO purposes and will respect you.
At the end of the presentation, Amy was asked what students can do to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to digital and traditional PR. She suggests “showing up” to professional development organizations such as PRSSA and PRSA for PR and SEMpdx for digital. Fortunately, Amy will be speaking at SEMpdx’s Engage conference in March 2018.
Thank you, Amy, for sharing your insight about traditional and digital PR. Please come back soon!
By Kate Templeton
As a junior in college, I am very focused on learning how to prepare myself for a future career as a public relations professional. I imagine many of you are also pondering and planning what steps you should be taking while you are still a student to best set yourself up for success after graduation. Fortunately, as journalism and communication students, we have access to many outstanding resources for guidance. For this week’s blog, I decided to ask an expert. I reached out to the SOJC Dean, Juan-Carlos Molleda, to hear his perspective and recommendations on what to do to be a successful public relations student. He provided me with some incredible insight and advice. Below are some highlights of our discussion.
How can students make the most out of their time as a UO PR student?
Dean Molleda explained that actively participating in classes is extremely important. Students who ask questions, engage in class discussions and interact with faculty are able to gain more than those who just show up to lectures. He also went on to explain that getting involved in extracurricular activities outside of a student’s major is essential, too. He feels that in our ever-changing world, it is important to be knowledgeable about global issues and to be up-to-date on current events in the news. Dean Molleda suggests getting involved in a variety of activities on and around campus to become a more informed citizen.
What are some things PR students can do to set them up for success while in college?
While students are still in school, Dean Molleda recommends actively networking. He explained that networking is a necessity when trying to maintain relationships and establish solid connections. He also emphasizes that one should not be solely focused on getting multiple internships while in college, but the importance of doing high-quality work and having successes while at these internships. This will help students create real world networks that will help them post-graduation. Dean Molleda also suggested utilizing the many resources that Allen Hall offers. For example, guest speakers that come and speak to student groups are a great way to learn about a field of interest, and a way to network with a professional who is actually in that field.
What are must haves when looking at resumes of PR students?
A student’s resume can completely make or break them when applying for jobs. Dean Molleda stresses the importance of having a clean and clear resume, with absolutely no typos. He also reiterates the importance of having unique experiences on the resume. Having solid work experience is a must, but having additional and diverse skills is equally as crucial. Employers want to hire people with skills; they want to see if PR students have the capability to work with various software programs, social media, analytics, etc. Dean Molleda states that “Internships are important, but students need additional skills, experiences and expertise to really make their resume and portfolio stand out amongst the rest.”
What are some things all PR students should know about the field?
In a workplace, the term ‘public relations’ isn’t always used. Dean Molleda explains that there are an array of different titles other than PR used in the real world. The job title could possibly be called public affairs, corporate communication, communication specialist, project manager, etc. He explained that because of the many career possibilities for PR students, it is imperative to be familiar with the variety of jobs students can apply for and obtain. Dean Molleda explains that “We are in a golden age of PR because of technology, so it is extremely important to understand technology and all of its uses.” The basics are still needed in PR: writing, speaking, presentation, critical thinking, etc. But being proficient with technology is now a necessity in the field. To close the interview, Dean Molleda gave one last great piece of advice. He said there is one specific word he likes to use when explaining what a PR professional needs to have in order to be successful in the field, and that word is ‘resilience.’ Having resilience is a valuable skill because it shows that a person will work hard and use all their abilities to get the job done, no matter the obstacles they may face.
By Sierra Goodman
Local reporters, Tiffany Eckert, Justina Roberts and Amber Wilmarth, were on our media relations panel at our Nov. 1 chapter meeting. The three answered questions and informed members about relationships with public relations professionals and reporters.
Public relations professionals and reporters have a symbiotic relationship. Public relations professionals provide reporters with newsworthy stories and reporters provide PR professionals a platform to tell those stories. The key is to maintain the relationship on both a professional and personal level. Similar to any other relationship it requires mutual respect, communication and trust. Here are nine ways PR professionals can foster positive relationship with journalists:
1. Use the 5 W format
Journalists live on fast-paced schedule which means they need to know the who, what, when, where and why in a concise manner. Introduce yourself in a short and simple sentence. The pitch should be about a paragraph long to give enough detail about what you are pitching and why it’s important to the reporter and public as well. The ability to write concisely is a skill learned with practice so don’t beat yourself up if it takes an hour or more to write a paragraph.
In the past, it would be deemed inappropriate and unprofessional to resort to texting a reporter instead of calling or emailing. Texting is becoming a more efficient means of communication as reporters don’t have time to go through emails all the time and they are always on the go. Just make sure you have met or talked with the reporter at least once.
“I think that the most important part of PR is communication; communicate well, communicate distinctly, communicate visually.”
3. Initiate and maintain
Yes, we are in the year 2017 where apparently texting between professionals is now acceptable. However, it is still necessary to communicate in-person as well and introduce yourself. It is important to do so whenever the chance is given and to make an effort to make those chances possible. As Gossip Girl would say, “Remember public relations rule number one: your value is your social network.” Building these unique relationships develops overtime, there’s a number of angles to go about maintaining them. This can be anything from complementing them on a recent article they published to going out for a cup of coffee to discuss an impending exclusive. It all depends on where you’re at in the relationship.
4. Keep an exclusive, exclusive
One day in your PR career, you may be given the opportunity to give an exclusive news story to your favorite reporter. If you tell them it is exclusive, stick to your word and only share this information with them. Trust is lost if you tell multiple reporters you have an exclusive story.
5. Be crystal clear about an embargo
Following up on the last statement, be sure to make it clear when a story is an embargo. In this case, the term embargo is described as an agreement between a PR professional and reporter that information given will not be released until the time stated. It’s easy to misunderstand unless it is explicitly said the story is not to be released until the given date.
“What is the most important 15 seconds I could tell this reporter?”
6. Be available
There is nothing more annoying to a reporter than getting an interesting press release only to find out the contact is unavailable for further details. This forces them to move on to the next story making the day harder for both of you. If they are not able to rely on you for a quick response it can severe sever the relationship. Most reporters understand that PR professionals have a busy life too and may not be able to respond immediately. In this scenario, it is important to at least acknowledge that you have received the reporter’s message and let them know when you will be able to get back to them.
7. Get your story in before 8-10 a.m.
Before the day officially starts, reporters meet with the news team between 8-10 a.m. During this time, they are preparing stories for the rest of the day. If you want a reporter to pitch your timely story at the morning meeting, be sure to contact them BEFORE 8 a.m. If you contact a reporter after their morning meeting, the news agenda is set, your story will not be able to be fit in and it is old news by tomorrow.
8. Give plenty of lead time
Although reporters learn to live in a fast-paced environment, letting them know information a few days to a week in advance allows them to take a breather, even if only for a second. This step is important in maintaining a good relationship with the select journalist. No one wants to be working against the clock if they don’t have to.
9. Don’t pitch an advertisement
This part will take some time to master but it’s an important one. In order to not sound like an advertisement, a pitch requires some humanity. Remember to mention how what you are pitching effects the audience who watches the news. At the end of the day it’s one human speaking to another.
By Kate Templeton
Do you stress out before an interview? Don’t worry- you’re not alone! For me, interviews are the most nerve-racking part of the job process. Demonstrating to prospective employers that you are the most qualified person for the job while being asked questions on the spot can be very stressful. However, with preparation and practice anyone can become a pro interviewee! Here are five tips that will help you nail your next PR interview and alleviate some of that stress:
First impressions matter! When going into an interview, it is always a good move to dress professionally. Have you ever heard the expression, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have?” Dressing up for an interview can show prospective employers that you care about the job and are taking the interview seriously. You want them to be able to picture you doing the job you are applying for. Plus, when you dress well it can help you feel more confident!
When conducting an interview, people are looking for specific responses. They are seeing if you possess the skills needed to work well with their organization. Why not show up extra prepared? As PR students and PR professionals we should be able to think on our feet and effectively promote ourselves. There are certain questions that are consistently asked at interviews (ex: strengths, weaknesses, why do you want to work here, etc.). Practice answers to questions you think you may be asked so that you feel more prepared and confident for the actual interview!
It’s easy to tell people that you have a full public relations portfolio with a variety of creative work pieces through multiple clients. However, actually being able to show off your skills during an interview is even better. Make sure to show your PR portfolio and sample work to an interviewer, whether it be a hard copy or online. This will help differentiate you from other candidates.
Few things are as impressive in an interview as showing how prepared and knowledgeable you really are about what you are applying for. Especially if it’s a job related to PR, you want to know all of the ins and outs of the organization and role. Being able to demonstrate that you have done your research tells employers that you spent time learning about the company and position, and that you genuinely want the job.
After the interview is over and you begin the process of waiting for a response, it is important to follow-up with the person/people who interviewed you. Sending a thank-you note or e-mail is always a great idea. This is an additional way to reiterate how much you want this position and help them specifically remember you when they are picking from a large pool of applicants.
By Kate Templeton
When most students imagine studying abroad, they probably picture exploring a foreign country and making lasting memories with new friends. However, studying abroad can actually help students gain professional connections and develop important skills that can positively impact their future. Last summer, I was fortunate to have an opportunity to study abroad. After what felt like months of researching different programs, countries and courses, I finally decided to spend six weeks studying in London. The program I chose was offered through the University of Oregon, and it provided me with an incredible opportunity to spend the summer with 60 other journalism and public relations students. While abroad, I gained valuable skills that have already greatly benefited my life as a PR student, and will help me reach my ultimate career goals.
Here is why you should consider studying abroad:
The professors in my London program were much different than the professors we have in the states. Two of my professors worked for the BBC, one in radio and one in television. Interacting with professors who are also working professionals from a different country with diverse experiences helps students gain new perspectives in the world of public relations. As students, we are advised to make connections and build professional networks. Having the chance to be in small, interactive and engaging classroom settings with professors who have their own unique professional connections opens up more possibilities for networking. One of my study abroad professors actually wrote me a letter of recommendation for a job!
My study abroad courses provided a great deal of experiential learning. We had amazing opportunities to attend a variety of theatre productions, dances, museums and sporting events. Through the classes, I learned how to effectively write news releases, news stories, critical reviews, blogs and features. I reviewed events and performances and learned how to critically and clearly explain what I had seen. Being a strong writer is important for PR professionals. Students who study abroad get the opportunity to dramatically improve their writing skills and become more compelling and effective communicators.
During my program, I had the opportunity to tour different businesses in the heart of London. I was able to see firsthand the role that public relations and journalism have in organizations like Chelsea Football Club, Ticketmaster, the BBC, the Olympic Games and many more. Being able to experience what it would be like to actually work in a communications field for these huge organizations opened my eyes to the many different possibilities that are out there for public relations majors. The hands-on atmosphere in studying abroad is key in showing students how professionals in these fields work and find successes.
While abroad, the classwork we did was very special. My program offered classes that required writing, photography and videography. Students left the program with multiple original pieces of work that showcased a variety of media platforms. The coursework created while abroad is extremely beneficial in differentiating and enhancing PR portfolios in comparison to other portfolios.
And finally, it wouldn’t be a study abroad experience without fully immersing into an entirely new and different culture. When students are able to say that they successfully lived in a new country while also taking classes, this demonstrates personal growth and perseverance. Study abroad students come back to their colleges and universities with a life changing experience that helps them mature personally, professionally and culturally.
By Erica Freeze
I am graduating in less than two weeks. As I continue to process this, I thought that I should end my UO PRSSA blog contributions with some advice for those who get to enjoy college for a bit longer.
The last few weeks of my senior year have felt like the series finale of a sitcom; you say tearful goodbyes to the dear friends you have made and start to reminisce on all of the good times throughout your college career. Your character development over time suddenly becomes apparent and you realize that this development in this environment is ending.
For those of you lucky enough to still be in college, or who are about to start, I remind you to keep your college friends close before they start their new lives elsewhere. Enjoy the fact that you are only a few blocks away from some of the greatest people you will ever meet. Take a class you enjoy and soak up as much knowledge as possible. Make a bucket list and go on adventures with your friends all over the state. Don’t be afraid to overuse the excuse, “I’m in college” while you can. And when you do have some free time, don’t be afraid to utilize the connections you have made to pursue a future career that interests and excites you.
The job search is a long and strenuous one. I am still on my search and rejection is not easy. But something that I am constantly reminded of is that everyone has a different path and you cannot compare yours to your peers. Being in the SOJC, this is extremely difficult as I compare myself to those who have had jobs lined up since the beginning of the year. I feel behind and as if I will never find a job. But at the end of the day, there is, believe it or not, some positivity to the job search. This search has helped me learn more about my passions and exactly what I want to do. Don’t be afraid to be a little selfish as you embark on the post-grad job search and journey. I have not had an easy spring term and have dealt with a lot of anxiety and stress about my future. But the thing is that it is MY future, no one else’s. Remember that it is your life, and if you want to move to New York and work long hours to survive, then go for it! Yes, I know that some parents may have reservations about where their children go, but a conversation about your future with them can be beneficial when you present them with all of the wonderful opportunities that there are for young college graduates. Don’t move to a big city just because all of your friends are. Don’t go to grad school because it’s what your parents want. Do what makes YOU happy and strive for that!
With all of that being said, in the craziness of senior year, make sure you take at least one moment to realize how beautiful and special life is at this moment in time. Sit back and smile when you have little responsibilities and time to grab brunch with your friends on a Friday morning or gather around a TV with a pizza on a Tuesday night. Take this moment to appreciate the life you are living. Although next year will be different, keep these memories close to get you through your post-grad years. Life is filled with ups and downs, but there are many great years ahead to look forward to.
To those of you graduating, congratulations to the Class of 2017. We did it! Good luck to you all, and to those still embarking on the wonderful journey that is college.
By Erica Freeze
As I am about to graduate from the University of Oregon, my job search is on full-throttle. Every time I see the words “please attach a cover letter,” I start to question the purpose of one. What is the point of a cover letter? It turns out that they actually have a purpose and when you utilize them to their full potential they can get you past the application process and into the interview process.
The purpose of a cover letter is to help you stand out past your resume. Cover letters are the outlet to introduce yourself and demonstrate your interest in a company. In these letters, you draw attention to your resume and motivate the reader to interview you. Often this letter and your resume are the first contact you have with a prospective employer, and if written correctly can have a large impact whether they ask you to interview.
After writing many cover letters for my job applications and conducting some research, I have learned a great formula on how to land an interview. So how do you write an interesting cover letter? Read on:
Headers can vary for every cover letter. Here is a pro tip: usually larger companies look for a header for your cover letter while smaller companies or startups usually don’t. If you are applying to a large in-house company or agency, then a header will most likely be preferred. If you apply to an agency with a few employees, then a header will most likely not be needed.
A header should normally consist of the date you’re writing the letter, your name, address, phone number and email address. Then, skip a line on the page and address your letter to the person who posted the job and their title at the company. For example, if Jane Smith, an HR representative for Edelman posted the job, then you would say, “Dear Jane Smith, HR representative.”
Sometimes you cannot always find the name of the person who posted the job. If you have no idea who this person is, or who makes selections for interviews, I simply put, “Dear Edelman.”
A successful introduction paragraph will include a brief introduction as to who you are and why you are interested, and qualified in the position. I normally start with my name and my education. Following this, I provide a brand statement. One great thing about the SOJC is that it encourages you to have a brand statement made before portfolio reviews. This is great to include in a cover letter because it provides a brief background as to what you are interested in. An example of a brand statement may be, (and this is the one I created for myself) “I am an aspiring public relations professional with a passion for writing, strategic communication and creative thinking.”
Following this, I like to explain why I am qualified for the position and what I can do for the company. It is important to make your reasons relate back to the job posting in some way. Think of it this way, if you can use the same cover letter and simply swap out the name of the company, you aren’t being specific enough.
Read over the job posting again, and the mission of the company as a whole. How can you help this company accomplish its goals? What experience do you have to succeed in the posted role? The next few paragraphs are for you to talk about your experiences that make you qualified. These can be internships, volunteer roles or even classwork if you do not have a lot of job experience.
I like to divide each paragraph up with the same structure. The first sentence or two should introduce your previous role and the skills you gained from the role. The following sentences should include scenarios where you utilized these skills, and how you best fulfilled the role. Lastly, provide results if you generated any. This is one of the most important things that companies look for. If you generate positive results, it proves that you worked hard in your role. An example of a result may be, “increased Facebook page likes by 50%.” It is as simple as that!
Your conclusion should be about one to two sentences, and reiterate the following:
Your enthusiasm about the role.
A “thank you” to the company for taking the time to read.
Where the company can contact you with any further questions.
A mention of relevant documents or links attached (resume, website, etc.)
With this formula, you can hopefully attract the attention of employers and show them your potential! Good luck with the job search.
By Kate Miller
The purpose of an informational interview is to talk with a professional who is working for a company or in an industry that you are interested in working in. This interview takes place either in-person or virtually. It may seem daunting or weird, but I can tell you from my experience that informational interviews have been the most important thing I have done throughout my internship and job search.
Informational interviews have been valuable because they have required me to get all of my ducks in a row, find some courage, be as professional as possible and ask a stranger for career advice. While the wording of an introductory informational interview email request may differ from person to person, most professionals and students know the parameters. You are simply trying to learn about what the professional does for a living. I promise, informational interviews become easier once you get the first one over with.
The first step to landing an informational interview is to reach out. As a student at the University of Oregon you have so many connections at your fingertips and alumni want to talk to you. So have courage, be professional and reach out. Be aware that professionals are busy so be considerate and grateful for their time and expertise. In my experience, professionals love sharing about their job and you being interested in what they do is exciting for them.
The first professional I reached out to was a woman at Edelman in New York. Edelman is a place I hope to work for one day and speaking with an alumnus about her experience helped me understand what it took to get there and provided me with a connection at Edelman when I was applying for their internship program. Networking has been most helpful while pursuing an internship and a strategy I will continue to use to one day find a job. In my opinion, PR is about three things: connecting, storytelling and strategy. The more connections you have the better.
Do Your Research
As a young professional, you need to show the person you are speaking with that you have done your research. You want to know what they have done in their career, how they got there and have some quality questions to ask. They are taking time that could be spent working to speak with you, so be prepared. The questions you ask should show that you are intentional and curious.
Send a Thank You Card
This is key. After the vast amount of knowledge, you have obtained from this professional, send a thank you card. It makes all the difference. It makes people happy to receive a handwritten thank you card and shows the professional that you appreciate the specific things you discussed with them and how much it has helped you.
Networking is essential and after your first informational interview, it will be way less scary. I personally love the insight and connections informational interviews provide me with professionals and I encourage you to take every opportunity that you can. It has led me to internship opportunities and has given me insight on where I would like to potentially work in the future.
By Erica Freeze
“Branded content” is the term for when companies create their own content to attract interest and engage an audience and generate familiarity, in the effort to pull consumers towards the brand to convert them to customers. But promoting your brand to the masses in this way won’t satisfy them. When the same sorts of messages arise from similar brands and competitors, consumers catch on. This is where emotional appeal needs to come in to push your brand ahead of the competitors.
One campaign that took emotional appeal to the next level is Always’ “Like a Girl” campaign. This campaign was groundbreaking because it reached its predominantly female consumers through a completely different method. Feminine care products normally focus on selling women on more idealized versions of themselves. This campaign however, compares stereotypes about the athleticism of young girls. The advertisement shows the frustration and misconceptions behind the statement, “run like a girl” and channels it into a powerful message: women are capable and strong regardless of the stereotypes placed on them. This unique advertisement resonated with women across the globe and was a huge success. Adobe ranked “Like a Girl” the top digital campaign of the Super Bowl in 2015, based on an analysis of mentions on a variety of social networks and internet platforms.
Creating an emotional connection means targeting an underlying emotion that may not be immediately obvious. Generating an emotional response is as important as having the right message. A brand can evaluate the emotional response through social media monitoring. Social media monitoring can help a brand understand how audiences perceive their message. The way that people respond to social media posts can tell your brand what attitudes and ideals your audience holds.
According to Harvard Business Review, those who are ‘fully connected’ emotionally are 52% more valuable to brands than customers who are ‘highly satisfied.’ Connecting consumers through emotional appeal can increase their action towards the brand. Think about it, if you see a brand promoting something that you align with, something that you are passionate about, then that brand activates an emotional response from you and increases your loyalty towards that brand. Therefore, you will want to be connected to this brand, and purchase their products and take action to consume this brand. The customers who are impacted by a brand’s stories and messages ultimately become advocates, sharing the brand on social media or telling their friends about the great products the brand has to offer. This is exactly what the Always campaign did, and as stated before, it was hugely successful.
The best approach to this is to focus on the connection that you want. You want to be consistent and target a smaller demographic; a more specific niche than a wide range of customers. Conduct some research on this target audience, take some surveys, view their social media engagement, analyze the data you collect and then come up with the underlying motivators for their consuming habits. From this you can see which emotional triggers work best and which do not. You can utilize this data to make a campaign to perfectly target a specific audience and utilize this audience to promote your brand and increase brand loyalty.