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.
Michael Nguyen is the Communications Coordinator at Susan G. Komen Oregon and SW Washington Affiliate. He earned his Design and Visual Communications degree from Western Oregon University. During his college career, he also participated in a study abroad program at the Florence University of Arts where he studied art history and photography.
Q: What are some of your responsibilities in the organization?
A: My responsibilities entail graphic design, web design, photography and social media. Essentially my role here is heavily visual communication design.
Q: What does an “average day in the office” look like for you?
A: An average day at the office has me checking my emails in the morning and responding to any questions or projects that I am currently working on. Various projects that I work on routinely would be maintaining care of the website, updating any information, managing what content goes on the front page and checking for trends through Google Analytics which show me statistics of all traffic coming to our site. Likewise, I go through our social media accounts as well to check on any messages or comments as well as to periodically post content and information about upcoming events and activities. Bigger projects that I work on depend on the time of the year. Currently we are going through our Year End Appeal. I have designed and sent out over 9,000 letters to our constituents as well as to our email database and I’m posting social ads through media outlets for maximum exposure.
Q: How did you land your position at Susan G. Komen?
A: I began as a graphic design intern working for Komen under the Director of Marketing, creating visual content for use on web, social and email. After several months I was then brought on part time as the Communications Coordinator eventually working with the Director of Development and Communications where I was then brought up to a full-time position.
Have confidence, be assertive, and make sure that if you make a mistake own up to it.
Q: What tips do you have for students coming into the professional world of public relations and communications?
A: Education is the foundation from which you start your journey. However, experience is ultimately what is required to push you forward not only in your career, but also in your skills. If you can start early and become involved in any organization, internship, company, or opportunity that allows you to practice real life applications while you are still in school, then you will have an edge over other candidates your age looking for similar jobs. That experience early on will easily translate over to similar encounters in your future career.
Additionally, work on your people skills! Practice mock interviews, if you find yourself stumbling on words or having a hard time answering a question, then you know what you must focus on in improving. This can be crucial in future negotiations, job interviews (negotiating salary can cause people to stumble and become tongue-tied), or communicating confidently at work with your supervisors or clients. With that also is networking: no matter how skilled you are, knowing the right people can take you very far. They can provide opportunities and connect you with potential job prospects or clients. Final tips would be to have confidence, be assertive, and make sure that if you make a mistake own up to it.
Lastly, take a look at this Ted Talk on body language that Michael recommended!
Shelby Nelson, External Relations Committee, serves as a project manager for the PRSSA blog. She is a senior pursuing a Public Relations degree. Feel free to follow her on Twitter at @shelbybriann.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Kelli Matthews is a public relations instructor at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication (SOJC). She has been the faculty advisor for Allen Hall Public Relations (AHPR) for eight years, and when she was a student at the SOJC, she was on the first AHPR team. With years of experience, Matthews knows a thing or two about success in the public relations industry.
Q: What is the most important advice you have for budding public relations professionals?
A: I think that my biggest piece of advice is to be curious. Be curious about everything. Like how the world works, how news gets made. Just being active in organizations like AHPR, PRSSA or Oregon News associations really stem for being curious and making that attempt to fill your knowledge gaps. Even as you get in your profession, that curiosity will carry you a long way.
If you continue to be curious, you will pay attention to how to advance in your industry and your job. Curiosity will keep you up to date and, because everything changes so frequently in public relations, you really need to keep searching for those answers.
Q: You briefly touched on opportunities like PRSSA and AHPR, do you have any specific advice about how to get involved and build up a résumé?
A: I think that you should keep your eyes and ears open all the time. Opportunities may not always come in the form of a formal interview. There are lots of ways to gain exposure and to learn about the (PR) industry to be exposed to the environment, jobs and structure outside of formal settings. The point is really to keep your eyes open for opportunities that may not be directly related to a job experience. It’s not just about getting three internships on your resume because that’s what supposedly gets you a job.
Get involved with what interests you even if it’s not directly related to public relations. Life isn’t just a big checklist. There are many opportunities that add to the richness of your life and to the richness of you as a person, and all of these aspects tie into becoming a better public relations professional. Students tend to look for certain job experience on their resume without looking at the bigger picture. Stay curious and interested, you’ll be surprised at what opportunities lay in front of you.
Q: Could you give me an example of these life experiences that have helped you in public relations?
A: Part of my core values is to be connected and involved in the community. My personal commitment is to the community not to public relations. I am very involved with Rotary International, and I am on the board of directors of United Way of Lane County. I make conscious commitment to spend time with organizations that relate to my core values. As an adult, I knew what I was giving up in order to do that and as a young professional these choices are harder.
But as a young professional, you need to keep yourself aware of your core values, it could be a number of things, like family commitment. For me, it was about figuring our how my time is best spent and this had to do with my core values. It’s about finding a fit with your personal values and where you spend your time.
Post by Kaitlyn Chock, PRSSA member and project manager for the 2012-2013 school year. You can contact Kaitlyn through our blog editor: email@example.com!
On Nov. 7, 2012, local PR professional Ali AAsum visited UO PRSSA to share the secrets of her professional post-grad success. AAsum graduated from the University of Oregon in 2009. While in school, AAsum garnished incredible professional and public relation experience at various internships, including The Ulum Group, City of Eugene Adaptive Recreation Services, and MR Magazine as an editorial intern in New York City. She currently works as an account executive at Bell+Funk in Eugene, Oregon.
In her presentation, AAsum discussed the hard work required get to where she is today. AAsum’s hard work and internship experience was a key part of securing her dream PR job post graduation. The young professional offered several key pieces of advice for current PR students looking to turn an internship into a job:
Interning – and doing it well – is an essential part to success in the professional world. AAsum’s presentation offered a realistic view into her profession, and the post-graduation path that many UO PRSSA students will soon face. You can follow Ali AAsum on Linked In.
Post by Andrea Feehan, PRSSA member for the 2012-2013 school year. She is currently a student at the University of Oregon. You can contact Andrea through our blog editor: firstname.lastname@example.org!
Q & A with Kris Koivisto, Corporate Communications Coordinator for the Portland Trailblazers
1. What is a day in sports communication, especially as a part of the
As with many jobs in a fast-paced environment, no two days are exactly the same. They may involve the same duties, but rarely in the same order. Different days have different priorities. We have four employees dedicated solely to PR. Within our department, we have Sports Communications and Corporate Communications, with one person dedicated solely to Sports and one to Corporate. There are also two people that split time on both sides – although we all help each other out and fill in for each other on a regular basis. Below, I’ve listed the primary duties our department handles (which can also be found on my LinkedIn profile).
Writing news releases and media advisories
Fielding, scheduling and facilitating interview and photo requests
Pitching stories to the media
Building and maintaining relationships with local, national and online media
Working cross-departmentally to help carry out marketing and communications initiatives
Monitoring media coverage and fan feedback
Writing wrap-up reports of the coverage we’ve received for specified events
Writing speaking points on a wide range of topics
Conducting media training
Writing blogs and taking photos at events
Editing and proof-reading content
Producing the content and layout for each ‘Rip City’ program
Producing a 300-page media guide each offseason
Preparing press credentials, seating charts, statistics, packets, postgame passes on games days
Preparing game information and seating arrangements for visiting teams’ PR staff, broadcast affiliates and traveling media
Handling the internal communications within the company, including the management of our intranet site and staff meetings
2. How did you get into it? Anything that specifically led you there
I personally got my foot in the door during the spring semester of my junior year of college, interning in Interactive Marketing from home (school). My job was basically to create a viral buzz on the team’s MySpace page (that ages myself) and social network, iamatrailblazersfan.com.
Following that internship I applied for the summer intern position with the Sports Communications department. I was lucky enough to get a good referral from my previous manager, and was the Sports Communications intern the summer we won the NBA Draft Lottery (one of the best experiences of my life). I built a good relationship with my boss, and stayed on as the season-long intern during the 2007-08 season. By good fortune, a full-time position opened up within the department near the end of the season. I went through an extensive interview process and eventually got the job. The rest is history.
3. Is there anything you wish you would’ve learned in college that you
I would say pitching stories, setting up formal interviews and ghost-writing quotes.
4. Any advice on getting into the world of sports communication?
Interning, definitely. Volunteering, too. Setting up informational interviews always helps to put a name to a face when the application process comes along. Making connections in the industry and building your own brand are also very key.
5. The most needed skill in your job and why
If I had to choose one, I’d say intuition. You need to rely on your gut instinct a lot of times when your boss isn’t around. It’s important that you can make the right decision on the fly – especially in conversations with the media. Every decision you make has to be in the best interests of the company.
6. Are there any positions open with the Trailblazers at the moment or
in the near future?
Unfortunately there are not currently any PR positions open with the Trail Blazers. We do hire 2-3 interns each fiscal year. All of our job openings on our website: http://blazers.teamworkonline.com/teamwork/jobs/default.cfm
If you have any follow-up questions for Kris, you can ask him via email or twitter:
email@example.com or Twitter (@KrisKoivisto)