By Sierra Goodman
Public relations agencies are like snowflakes; no two are the same. Some specialize in business-to-business and some in business-to-consumer. Others combine PR strategy with advertising and digital. Boutique agencies may have a team of 10 while a large agency may have hundreds of team members.
During Fall term, members of the University of Oregon’s PRSSA chapter explored four agencies in Portland including LANE, Gallatin, Gard, and Edelman. Each agency offered something different as far as future employment. In case you couldn’t make it, here is a summary of the agencies we visited:
Lane PR is headquartered in Portland with locations in New York City and Seattle. In 2011, the agency was acquired by Finn Partners, a global marketing communications firm. At the Portland location, they represent companies in the local food and beverage and financial sectors including 10 Barrel Brewing Co. and Umpqua Bank. Their focus is on B2B and B2C relations for business and sales success through platforms such as investor relations and social media marketing. Wendy Lane Stevens, president and founder, commonly asks interviewees to walk her through their resume, explaining their academic and work choices from senior year in high school to present day. Knowing your own story and having a business mindset will serve you well at Lane.
If you are interested in public affairs, Gallatin is the place for you. They specialize in business, government, politics and media. A job at Gallatin involves plenty of community outreach and communication to help clients initiate change. Some specific campaigns involved crisis communication after a NW Portland building explosion in 2016 and event planning for a gathering of Portland’s female restaurant owners. At Gallatin, President Dan Lavey, says that he is looking for personality and independence when hiring interns. The agency regularly hires interns each year so make sure to look out for future opportunities and set up an informational interview.
Gard Communications is an advertising and public relations firm well-versed in crisis communications. They have local, national and global clients that they work with closely to ensure a strategic plan that works best for them. Advancement of brand reputation and defensive tactics give the agency an edge in times of serious crisis and marketing management. This agency is ideal for people who work well under pressure and in a fast-paced environment.
Edelman is the largest public relations agency in the world and ranges in a variety of sectors such as technology, brand, corporate, public affairs and just about everything in between. Their Portland location is small with 50 employees compared to other locations like their New York office with 500 employees. With locations all over the world, they give employers an opportunity to work abroad to experience different cultures. Edelman is proud to say they are a leader of earned media. Although employees are encouraged to diversify themselves in different fields and projects they tend to hire off of people’s niches such as healthcare, technology and digital. As we heard on all four tours, Edelman was no exception saying that excellent writing skills are imperative to have in the PR industry.
PRSSA’s Development Tours offer a unique experience to students by providing a window into specific agencies and PR sectors. They are especially helpful in narrowing down your job search down the road by helping students learn more about what their life might look like in a job outside of UO.
Applications for the Winter term Professional Development Tour to Seattle go live Monday, Jan. 8. Visit prssa.uoregon.edu/tours to learn more and apply.
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.
It can often be nerve-racking or even intimidating to go on PR agency tours in different cities. You are meeting PR professionals who could potentially hire you one day for your dream job. However, when going on an agency tour, there are a few things to remember that can help you get the most out of it and have an experience that will benefit your future.
Do your research.
Before going on an agency tour do your own research on the agency or agencies you are visiting. Find out what type of PR they focus on, who their clients are and the size of the agency. After some basic research on the agency itself, read over their employee bios to find out more about the people who work at the agency. This will give you a better picture of what the agency culture is really like.
While you are researching, brainstorm potential questions you would like to ask. Think beyond the generic questions you can answer yourself by looking at their website and ask questions that will make you stand out. Also, ask questions that show you have done your research. Mention specific clients you know they have worked with based on the research you have done, not just what they are telling you on the tour itself.
Be professional and courteous.
Remember, the agency you are visiting is taking time out of their busy schedules to educate you on what their agency does. Be respectful of that and engage with the professionals who are conducting the tour. Say, “Thank you for your time, I really appreciated learning more about your agency.” When it comes to networking after a general presentation, remember not to jump the gun by giving them your resume or business card. Unless the moment is right, this will give the wrong impression.
Dress to impress.
It is very important when going on any agency tour to dress appropriately and in business professional attire. It is always better to be overdressed than underdressed. Slacks, pencil skirts, appropriate blouses, blazers and closed toed pumps or flats are appropriate for women. Men should wear slacks with a dress shirt and dress shoes. Blazers and ties are also appropriate.
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.
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?
Not many people can say a post-grad vacation led them to their dream job… Except for Portland-native Allie Hawes. In the summer of 2012, Hawes ventures to Palm Springs shortly after graduation for some well deserved post-grad relaxation but made the life-changing decision to stay in Los Angeles for her dream job.
Hawes now works as a Project Manager at the world’s leading entertainment marketing agency Trailer Park. The company is headquartered in Hollywood, along with regional offices in New York and London.
Before accepting the position in L.A., Hawes was a student University of Oregon. She returned to her retail position in Portland directly after graduation, but Hawes did not plan to stay there for long.
In need of a reprieve from college and returning to life in Portland, Hawes drove to Palm Springs in California. The young professional planned to interview with an agency in San Diego on July 10th. But on the day before of her interview, she woke to an unexpected surprise: the chance to interview with Trailer Park. Hawes received word from a friend of an opening at Trailer Park. Her interview took place on July 16, and she started work the next morning.
“The interview was drilling,” recalls Hawes. Three interviewers peppered Hawes with demanding questions at the same time, but she passed the tests.
Hawes was assigned to freelance for three weeks, but she worked for only a week before she was offered the position. According to Hawes’ supervisor, she was selected for the job thanks to her “spitfire” personality. She now works in the marketing department of ArtMachine. Her work has introduced her to world-famous clients, including Warner Bros., Paramount, Lionsgate, and more recently, Disney and Universal. Hawes is the youngest professional in her office.
“I am the middle person between the studio and my team of eight designers,” said Hawes. Her team designs the packaging of movies released on DVD/Blue Ray, Netflix, and iTunes.
“It didn’t set in for about a month…it all happened so fast for it to feel real,” Hawes recalls about the quick decision that changed her career. But Hawes adjusted quickly to life in Los Angeles. She currently lives in Santa Monica, about a mile from the beach. Hawes’ success story proves that amazing opportunities can present themselves at the most unexpected times. According to Hawes, “Things come up and you never know how they are going to turn out.” But this former PRSSA member turned PR professional is proof that things really do happen for a reason.
Post by Audree Nethercott, PRSSA member for the 2012-2013 school year. You can contact Audree through our blog editor: email@example.com!
On Thursday, Feb. 21, thirteen University of Oregon PRSSA chapter members and I had the exciting opportunity to visit a few of Portland’s most intriguing PR agencies. With an urban, colorful setting like Portland, our visit was anything but ordinary!
We began our day with a warm welcome from AM:PM PR (with scones courtesy of their friendly neighbors at the Compote Café & Bakery). The small, yet deep-rooted agency in southeast Portland, invited all of our questions to the table to discuss their mission and our interests.
We discovered that this agency is serious about relationships, and they value each of their clients in tailored-to-fit ways. The passion AM:PM holds is clear to see. They see their clients as their partners and strive to focus on the small picture in big ways in order to produce the best work possible. Overall, our visit with AM:PM PR was refreshing, laid back and got our creative juices flowing for the remainder of the day!
After a delicious (and very Portlandesque) pizza date at Sizzle Pie, our next stop was R/West. Located in the midst of the industrial district, this all-creative agency resulted in 14 jaws dropping as we stood behind opening elevator doors. The agency was immaculate to say the least. We were led on a tour by former UO PRSSA alum, Ashley Aronson, as we marveled at the work they’ve produced.
The PR, marketing, multimedia, planning-savvy crew at R/West (needless to say, they’re just about good at everything), proved to be a hit with our group. Upon leaving, the biggest question on my mind was, “When can I apply?”
As the day grew longer, the journalism student coffee aficionados in us emerged (as if it ever went away). We did what one must do while in Portland and went on a quick coffee run before making our last stop at one eye-opening agency: CMD Portland. The integrated marketing services agency was much larger than our last two visits and it had a lot to show!
Once again, we were greeted by another UO PRSSA alum, Jesse Davis, and were taken on a tour of the highly modernized building. There we feasted our eyes on the great work that they produce. With mega-clients like Microsoft and Intel, the power held at CMD was unique and inspiring. We had the opportunity to ask questions and hear advice from relatable individuals who understand what it’s like to freshly enter the PR field. Our visit to CMD was definitely valuable!
It didn’t take me long to soak everything in and think about all of the information I took away from our tours. After the trip, I found that learning to think of each case, client and project as a clean slate is key. As AM:PM PR demonstrated so well, the importance of taking the time to build and maintain customized, tailored-to-fit relationships with clients is the path to success.
After all, having that bug to network and seek relationships is what makes the PR major so appealing! Going on the agency tours trip gave me a glimpse of my career path in a “real world” setting, and it has given me even more motivation to keep working toward an exciting, versatile, and fast paced future in PR!
On Nov. 16th, UO PRSSA ventured to Portland, Ore. to tour the local offices of Edelman Portland and Liaison PR. The city of Portland is home to several well-known PR agencies – Edelman, Liaison, and Waggener Edstrom included. The day was full of insightful information and inspiration, helping to establish a clear idea of the life of a PR professional after graduation.
The day began with a tour and information session with Edelman Portland, one of many company offices throughout the world. Edelman Portland is home to approximately 50 employees and overlooks Pioneer Courthouse Square from the 8th floor of a spacious, modern office. Members discussed life at a PR agency with five current professionals of the Edelman team, followed by an office tour and look into daily life there.
After, UO PRSSA visited Liaison PR in the Portland Pearl District for a tour of their urban office. Liaison is home to a small staff and a specialized focus on technology and consumer PR. An informational session with Liaison’s talented team offered insight to working in a niche agency. Part of the presentation included hearing from Liaison’s founder Heidi Lowell, who was visiting the office from her home in London.
So why should you consider touring a local PR agency before graduation?
UO PRSSA would like to thank Edelman Portland and Liaison PR for the insightful, inspiring day of tours! Our Chapter plans multiple PR agency tour opportunities each year. Stay tuned for more information on the trips planned for winter and spring 2013 at upcoming Chapter meetings. Have you ever toured a local PR agency? What was your favorite part of the experience?
Post by Callie Gisler, public relations director for the 2012-2013 school year. She is a junior at the UO, studying public relations and magazine journalism. You can reach Callie at firstname.lastname@example.org!