By Talia Smith
If you follow me on Spotify, you might assume an eight-year-old stole my account password and has been streaming children’s music for the past year. I’m here to say it’s actually me who listens to artists such as Brady Rymer and the Little Band that Could, the Okee Dokee Brothers, Recess Monkey, Frances England and Secret Agent 23 Skidoo. While I do thoroughly enjoy their music, these artists are our five Grammy-nominated clients at Sugar Mountain PR.
Sugar Mountain PR (SMPR) is a Portland-based agency that promotes children’s entertainment. I have been doing freelance work for SMPR owner, Beth Blenz-Clucas, for more than a year now and am fortunate enough to be joining her PR team at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards in L.A. this weekend.
This all transpired in a sort of serendipitous way and I thought I’d share what I have learned so far in the lead-up to this event.
Don’t Underestimate Your Network
I was introduced to SMPR in Portland through two connections from my hometown in New Jersey: my mom and Brady Rymer from Brady Rymer and the Little Band that Could. My mom discovered SMPR when she was trying to book Brady for an event a few years back.
I didn’t know Brady as the children’s musician; I knew him as the bassist for the band, From Good Homes. They have a large following on the East Coast and I grew up listening to their music. Without my mom or Brady, I wouldn’t have known to reach out to Beth at SMPR.
The lesson I learned from this is that sometimes the most rewarding connections are not obvious ones. I would have never thought that I would find PR work through my mom, who did not have a PR background or my favorite local band. Sometimes you have to dive deep into your third, fourth, maybe even 17th level networks.
Sugar Mountain was not seeking a freelance intern when I applied. I got the job because I asked. I was not originally invited to assist at the Grammys. I’m going because I asked. I learned you sometimes have to take it upon yourself to reach out and offer your services. I think of how many opportunities I might have passed up just because I didn’t ask. As Christopher McCandless said, “If you want something in life, just reach out and grab it.”
Go Along for the Experience and Leave Room to Be Pleasantly Surprised
When at first I asked Beth if I could assist her team at the Grammys, she said yes but made it clear that she couldn’t promise I would have a press pass to get on the red carpet. I was still eager to go because they needed someone to sell merchandise at the pre-Grammy concert featuring all five nominated children’s musicians. I also have family in the L.A. area who I could visit and stay with.
I knew there was a chance that I would not be involved in any of the red carpet Grammy events, but I still wanted to go along for the ride. I would either have the chance to visit my family and work a cool concert or I would get to visit my family, work a cool concert AND work the red carpet and media room at the Grammys on Sunday. I couldn’t go wrong with either outcome. As it turns out, I was pleasantly surprised to receive an email from the Recording Academy to learn my press pass was approved. Then I was able to wholeheartedly freak out and go shopping for a dress.
I’m telling my story to show that it snowballed from a humble start. I think a lot of opportunities have extraordinary potential when you learn to, “Just Say Hi,” as Brady Rymer would say.
As June approaches, graduating seniors are anxious to finish their final classes and finally dawn on those green caps and gowns. But then comes planning for life post-grad. Navigating job listings can often be frustrating. but Twitter can be a great way to find recent job postings. Here are six Twitter resources to help you land a great job:
1. Follow @PRSSANational. Lauren Rosenbaum, PRSSA Vice President of Public Relations, regularly tweets about internships and jobs that are on the PRSSA internship center.
2. Follow @SOJCCareers. The SOJC Advising Office tweets about many local jobs and internships, as well as some national opportunities.
3. Follow @ComeRecommended. Come Recommended is a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies. They tweet helpful job-hunting strategies, and occasionally tweet about national job opportunities.
4. Follow companies that you want to work for. Sometimes those brands will post job openings, but even if they don’t, it is good to learn about that company and what a job might look like with them.
5. Follow professors such as @KelliMatthews. SOJC faculty members often tweet job search advice, as well as any local jobs and internships she learns about.
6. Follow job-listing aggregators, such as @marketjobsUSA, @comminternships, and @EntryPRJobs. These are excellent resources for the newest job listings across the country.
Even if you aren’t looking for a job, it’s helpful to know what sort of skills are necessary for your dream job. Take the time to browse current listings, identify the companies and positions that catch your eye, and make your job search efforts count.
Post by Aimee Gregg, UO PRSSA member for the 2012-2013 school year. You can contact Aimee through our blog editor at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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.
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?
“In Alabama, you can’t be for both. You have to choose. It’s either Alabama or Auburn. And once you choose, you are branded for life.” – Unknown Auburn fan
“Personnel? That’s for assholes!” – Clint Eastwood as Inspector Harry Callahan
“I was in Personnel for 10 years.” – Bradford Dillman as Captain Jerome McKay
“Yeah.” – Harry Callahan
Recently, a fellow public relations graduate school classmate was excited about her prospects of landing a position with Intel Corporation. The only problem was the job was in Human Resources (with all due respect to those in HR).
I couldn’t help but immediately think about Dirty Harry’s reaction about being reassigned to “Personnel” in the 1976 feature film, “The Enforcer.” This point is amplified by his one-syllable response to Captain McKay informing him about his 10-year tenure in what we now label: Human Resources or HR.
My serious concern for my academic colleague had absolutely nothing to do with the largest semiconductor company in the world, Intel, but the position itself. Instinctively, I took into account that jobs are precious in this lethargic economy, even at a time in which we are celebrating the nation’s unemployment rate “declining” to 7.7 this past November as more-and-more job seekers give up the hunt.
In particular, I urged caution to her about inadvertently heading down the path to pigeonholing. She could record 10 years in human resources and suddenly come to the realization that she is permanently dropped into the lethal “HR” bucket. If she subsequently wanted to shift her career back to public relations, marketing, advertising etc. — what she actually studied as an undergraduate and in grad school — she may find the doors closed for her because she is now permanently branded as a “HR” professional, similar to “The Evil Director of Human Resources, ‘Catbert,’” in the Dilbert cartoons.
Another example is one of my students, who was saddened that he lost out for a retail management trainee job for Macy’s. This may have been a blessing in disguise unless he really wanted to spend his life in retail, which very well could have been the result if he was “successful” in attaining this particular job.
The point of this epistle is that we live in an increasingly demographic world and there is no going back. Think about how everyone is worshipping at the altar of Barack Obama political guru David Axelrod because his team correctly projected that 72 percent of the electorate would be composed of white voters…a number too low to elect Mitt Romney.
The exercise was to identify single women, African Americans, Hispanics and young voters and target the GOTV campaign (Get Out The Vote) to these demographic groups in their respective buckets. Some of this segmentation is obvious: Males and females; married or single: young or old. And someone is always dividing and subdividing each subgroup into tiny slivers to determine buying and behavior patterns for political or monetary gain.
From the Census to Facebook, we are compulsively segmenting people whether we like it or not (e.g., privacy advocates). From the Spartans to the Athenians, the Hatfields to the McCoys, the North and the South, Red States and Blue States, Israelis and Palestinians, we have a long history of putting people into groups. In Alabama, it is the red and white of the Crimson Tide or the blue, orange and white of the Auburn Tigers. There is no straddling the fence in ‘Bama.
To many Sean Connery will always be James Bond. Simon Cowell will be the absolutely brutal talent judge on American Idol. Simon Bond will always be the guy who wrote, 101 Uses for a Dead Cat. Reportedly, his subsequent books on any other subject were not accepted…he was always the “Dead Cat Guy.”
So does someone specifically trained in the verbal, written, digital media and communications choreography skills of public relations want to wake up one day and ask: ‘How did I become saddled in Human Resources?’ I am fearful that the lousy economy of today may result in some very painful and for the most part irreversible results a decade or more from now.
Should a graduate turn down a “position” in this crummy economy to avoid the dreaded pigeonhole? Or should that same graduate take a “job” to keep food on the table and gas in the tank, while continuing to search for the position that fits her or his career? This is a difficult predicament. And in many ways, it is an easy answer.
Choosing between Auburn and Alabama is tougher.
Post by Samantha Hanlin, University of Oregon PRSSA Member.
While the Gateway to Media series attempts to equip journalism students with the basic skills they need, learning the in-depth function of computer programs like the Adobe Creative Suite are useful skills. Here is a list of some of the most important programs PR majors should add to their resumes:
As intimidating as this program may seem, you need to know the basics. For many internships and positions, this layout and design program is highly desired – if not required. Think of it as a sophisticated Microsoft Word document with 10 times the amount of opportunity. This program can transform a dreary poster into a professional and impressive advertisement.
Many people have dabbled in Photoshop. This program opens the door to flawless photos and sharp graphics . Photoshop plays into InDesign with any type of photo placement. Though sometimes an overwhelming program, Photoshop skills are incredibly useful to creating high quality images.
Public relations is all about communication. When communicating with a large group, as many will have to do, visuals are key; and sometimes you have to go beyond PowerPoints presentations. Instead of persuading more yawns, try adding interest and flair with Prezi, an online presentation builder. Completely free and easy to use, Prezi gives every presentation edge, movement and easy access to embedded videos or graphics.
4) Final Cut Pro
Even if you don’t think video editing is essential, Final Cut Pro offers some perspective to what goes into a production piece, which starts with patience. The Gateway to Media series focuses on this program because you can learn vital skills about interviewing, and the importance of good audio and footage. Beware perfectionists, you can easily get addicted!
Success in the public relations industry means being a Jack (or Jill) of all trades. Take the time to explore popular computer programs like Adobe Creative Suite. Visit your professor for a quick tutorial, pick up a book or Google tutorials to teach yourself the basics. Adding these basic skills to your resume will make for a much stronger resume.
Post by Aimee Gregg, University of Oregon PRSSA member. Photo by Callie Gisler.
University of Oregon students have countless avenues to get involved on campus; unfortunately, there is no way to take advantage of every opportunity, which can make the decision of what organization to get involved in overwhelming. A good way to get the most out of your time is to find activities that allow you to combine your professional goals with your campus involvement. Here are five ways for public relations students to get involved on campus:
Though we are somewhat biased, the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) will provide you with the opportunity to network with fellow public relations students and professionals, and learn more about all facets of public relations through professional guest lecturers.
Allen Hall Public Relations (AHPR) is an entirely student-run professional public relations firm that takes on real clients. It helps public relations students network with each other, as well as with small businesses and nonprofits in the area. It also gives students valuable hands-on experience, while maintaining high professional standards. The work that students produce is the perfect addition to any portfolio.
3.) Marketing or advertising groups
Both marketing and advertising are closely related with public relations. Learning more about these professional areas is a great way to expand your skills set to become a more marketable professional. You might also uncover an entirely new interest or passion. Examples of marketing and advertising groups on the University of Oregon campus include American Marketing Association, Allen Hall Advertising, Ad Society and more.
4.) Campus publications
Many campus publications including Flux, The Daily Emerald and Ethos have public relations related positions that are fantastic practical experience. Attaining writing, marketing, multimedia and other journalism-related positions in these publications can be a great way to broaden your skills set and diversify your portfolio.
5.) Volunteer your public relations services
Sometimes the best way to get involved on campus is to find an activity that you are passionate about, even if it is unrelated to your professional objectives. You can obtain public relations experience by helping your club or activity gain exposure on campus. This is a mutually beneficial option. You develop your public relations skills, while serving the needs of other students on campus.
Campus involvement is key to getting the most out of your four years here. These are just a few options; however, there are more than 180 student programs at the University of Oregon. Browse through all the student groups at orgsync.uoregon.edu to find the perfect fit for your interests.
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 email@example.com!
To all members, supporters and followers of UO PRSSA, welcome back! I am excited to serve as president in the upcoming year and have big goals for our growing Chapter. The executive board has been hard at work over the summer planning some fantastic professional development opportunities, of which I hope you will take full advantage. Below I’ve listed some ways you can hone your PR skills as well as get further involved in PRSSA.
Join a committee
This year we will be accepting applications for four different committees: Events Committee, Membership Committee, External Relations Committee and NODAC Committee. Joining a committee is a great way to get involved because you will get to know other PRSSA members, while gaining experience in an area of communications that you are interested in. Go to our website for more information on each committee.
Participate in Intern-for-a-Day
UO PRSSA’s main focus this year is to provide you with professional development opportunities. Intern for a Day, a UO PRSSA fundraiser, is just the chance to get involved with local Eugene organizations and public relations professionals. Here is how it will work: UO PRSSA will select a pool of qualified student members to be auctioned as interns in silent auction style. Local organization’s will then bid on a student that would be a good fit for their public relations needs.
Once you have been matched with an organization, you will work on a public relations task that requires approximately eight hours of work. This is an opportunity to design a brochure, staff an event, research a client, draft tweets, and make vital connections within the community. Although we have not set a date for the event yet, we are working to make it happen at the end of fall term. Look forward to more details about Intern for a Day on the UO PRSSA blog and contact me for if you need more information.
Get involved in a national PRSSA competition
PRSSA Chapters across the nation compete each year in national PRSSA competitions such as Bateman, Contiki and NODAC. This year, UO PRSSA will be participating in the National Organ Donor Awareness Competition, also known as NODAC, during which you will create a public relations campaign to promote awareness and knowledge of organ donation among college students.
We will be accepting applications for participation on the NODAC Committee just like we will for the other committees. However, if you become part of the NODAC Committee the real work will begin winter term because the public relations campaign must be completed and submitted for the competition by May 2013. For more information on NODAC visit our website.
These are a small sampling of opportunities UO PRSSA is offering this year. Our ultimate goal is to serve you, the aspiring PR professional and help you gain a better understanding of the industry and your place within it. I encourage you to bookmark our website, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and keep an eye out for our announcements on campus.
Successful involvement in PRSSA is much like the old adage, “you get out of life what you put in.” If you want to get all that PRSSA has to offer it is up to you to attend events, meetings, workshops and otherwise be an active member! I hope to see you all at our first general interest Chapter meeting that will be held on Wednesday, October 3 at 7 p.m. in Peterson 103!
Are you interested in becoming a guest blogger for the University of Oregon PRSSA chapter this term? We are looking for posts and articles on all things college, public relations, networking, social media and blogging, and more! Share your best stories, tips, interviews, and advice! Why should you consider becoming a guest blogger this school year? Let us tell you…
The ideal post is 300-500 words in length, free of spelling and grammar errors, and is of course, your own original work. Each post should include an applicable image or photograph. Articles and posts might be edited to best suit the UO PRSSA blog. Submit your post in Word Document or PDF format to PRSSA Public Relations Director/Blog Editor Callie Gisler at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Looking for other publishing opportunities this term? The national PRSSA organization offers several chances to publish your work. The PRSSA National blog Progressions tackles a range of PR, PRSSA, and professional topics, all written by fellow PRSSA members. Click here to learn more about submitting a blog post to Progressions. PRSSA National also produces FORUM, the official PRSSA newspaper, which is published three times a year. Click here to learn more about submitting a written piece to FORUM.
Questions or comments? An idea for an upcoming UO PRSSA blog post? Contact Callie Gisler at email@example.com. We would love to hear from you!