Summer is just around the corner. You know what that means? It’s time to start making those summer vacation plans. Summer is also a good time to advance your skills and take advantage of networking connections and opportunities. Whether you are working at home, backpacking through Europe, or interning for a public relations firm, here are some simple tips from PR professionals on how to have a productive summer as a PR major.
1. Write, write, and write
Writing is arguably the most important skill a PR professional can have. It is important to keep writing skills polished, even when school is not in session. Try starting a blog about your summer adventures, writing in a journal, or creating something as a portfolio piece.
2. Learn a new skill
Without the stress of deadlines and assignments that come with being in school, summer makes the perfect opportunity to learn something new. There are plenty of fun skills that you could learn or improve on this coming summer. Photoshop, Final Cut Pro X, and photography can all make valuable additions to your skills toolbox. Personally, I am hoping to improve my InDesign skills this summer.
Volunteering is a great way to get involved and start networking. These experiences can reveal jobs, expand professional networks, help make new friends, provide career experience, and teach valuable skills- all while working for a greater cause.
4. Schedule Informational Interviews
Informational interviews are a great way to learn applicable information firsthand within a specific field. You might also find out about career paths you were unaware of before, and it can provide great tips on how to fix up your résumé and land an interview.
5. Get an Internship
Last, but not least, having an internship over the summer can lead to exciting things. Not only do internships give you an edge in the PR job market, they also provide valuable experience, networking opportunities, and could potentially transition into a full time job.
These are just a few tips on how to have a productive summer as a PR major. Don’t be afraid to go above and beyond this list! Try new things, learn something new about yourself, and most importantly This is an exciting time in our lives and the future holds many opportunities and possibilities, especially in the increasing prosperity of the public relations field. How are you planning to have a productive summer?
Post by Claire Ion, PRSSA member for the 2012-2013 school year. You can contact Claire through our blog editor: firstname.lastname@example.org!
You know the “six degrees of separation” theory? In Eugene, I think everyone is three-degrees apart, at most. The connectedness of a small market has some advantages and some disadvantages, depending on how you look at it and what you’re looking for.
In the world of agency PR, a small market has some major pluses:
I can think of two drawbacks of working in Eugene. But with time and learning, I’ve overcome them, so that may null my findings:
I found a few organizations that offered professional and personal connections in my playing field – the Eugene Chamber of Commerce’s Young Professionals Network and the Eugene Active 20-30 Club. The former hosts monthly networking events and the latter is a community service organization. By participating in both, I now have many new friends and see familiar faces at almost any community event.
I would imagine, however, that a larger city offers a more thriving young professional scene. Even co-workers could be of similar age and interests as recent grads.
But, in my opinion, here’s the catch: You might be working on accounts like Apple, Subway or L’Oreal, but you could be on the fifth or sixth rung of the ladder – a place where upper management may not remember your name and you’ll rarely get to talk with a client face to face.
My “Pros” and “Cons” list shows five-to-two. That’s a win for small markets.
From my perspective, starting your career in a small market is the perfect training ground to develop skills and experience you’ll need if and when you decide to launch into a larger market. But I’m biased because I haven’t experienced professional life elsewhere.
Eugene is indeed a small world after all. But it’s made a big impact on my personal and professional growth.
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.
No public relations education would be complete without hearing about the word “portfolio” at least a million times. A strong portfolio and positive online presence are two important tools for PR students after graduation. But one more way important to catch the eye of potential employers is a blog.
I started my own blog, Coffee and Cardigans, in February 2012. Since then, I have learned important lessons in writing, editing, marketing, business tactics and brand management. I also have a work sample that I can share with employers. As a result, my blog presents a strong example of my interests, my expertise and my personality.
Managing a blog can demonstrate your writing skills, along with any design, photography and editing skills. It also builds upon them if you make blogging a habit. Updating your blog with fresh content on a regular basis also shows your ability to organize and dedicate time to a project.
Blogging is also a great way to expand and enrich your online presence. Add your name to a professional, polished and relevant blog that will be at the top of a Google search when employers search for your online presence.
Blogging can introduce you to the industry where you eventually want to work. Whether you want to focus on public relations in the tech industry or explore financial and investor relations, consider blogging in your area of interest! You can position yourself as an “expert” early, and the research will build your industry knowledge.
A blog also connects you to an online community. The blogosphere is a social place and it isn’t rare to strike up a few friendships while you are there. Networking online can be an effective tactic that can lead to connections in the real world as well. Once you find a niche, research other bloggers who write about your favorite topics.
As a PR student, managing my own blog has been an enormous learning opportunity. I honed my writing skills and voice, developed an editorial calendar, and learned to build and market a brand online. According to PR Daily, writing skills and strong work samples are a must in the post-grad job search. The easiest way for a PR student to earn those skills now? Get blogging.
Post by Katie Keene, University of Oregon PRSSA member.
Can the content you post on social media affect your job and internship applications? Possibly. CareerBuilder surveyed 2,000 hiring managers and found that 2 in every 5 managers used social media to screen applicants. The managers searched profiles to determine whether candidates fit in with company culture and appeared professional.
Many students rely on privacy settings to keep certain content from potential employers but having a completely private profile can be a red flag. Employers are using social media to get an idea of who you are. Using your profile to make a brand for yourself is more beneficial than hiding inappropriate content.
In public relations, understanding your audience and effectively using social media is a key skill. As students, our audience includes potential employers. The content you post does not always need to be relevant to the field you wish to work in, but should remain appropriate at all times.
Using social media as a tool reflects who you are to employers and differentiates yourself from other job applicants. Including a statement about yourself on each of your profiles is also helpful. This statement should identify who you are and your unique characteristics and strengths.
As public relations students, we are expected to be familiar with the latest technology in social media. Knowledge of each platform can be shown through effective profiles. Posting content that conveys a strong understanding that anyone can view your content on social media is advantageous.
Post by Hannah Williams, University of Oregon PRSSA member.
As public relations students, we are meant to be prepared as we possibly can before entering the real world. While earning a degree in the field is a great start, your skills and portfolio are important factors to post-grad success. Potential employers look for certain areas of expertise in recent graduates and potential hires. Here are several skills that public relations students should sharpen before entering the workforce:
• How to tell a story: When most students hear this word they think that it only applies to reporters and journalists, but as PR practitioners we need to be able to communicate to our audiences in a creative and clear manner. Crafting a strong story and message is an essential skill for any in the communication field.
• How to listen: Good communication skills mean the ability to deliver a message, as well as the ability to listen. Active listening will help you understand exactly what your clients and bosses are expecting, and help you avoid mistakes later. Pay attention in conversations, write down what is being said and be able to relay the information back.
• How to do social media: Advanced understanding of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Wordpress and Instagram will be extremely beneficial, as most businesses have a digital strategy component to their public relations efforts. Additionally, students should also be aware of their own online presence. Potential employers and clients may look at your social media channels for a better understanding of you as a potential employee.
Understanding and using these skills will prepare any public relations student for the world beyond graduation. The ability to communicate in-person and online, as well as thinking critically and creatively will help you to stand out in the crowd.
It’s that time of year again: PRSSA registration and dues time. In the spirit of the season, I’d like to take a moment to remind current and potential members about the wealth of benefits that PRSSA membership has to offer. PRSSA membership will allow you to develop professional skills, learn from current public relations professionals and create industry contacts while you’re still in college.
But don’t just take it from me. Learn from current account supervisors and public relations specialists from around the country what PRSSA did for them and what it can do for you.
“Without a doubt, PRSSA was the most valuable networking opportunity for me in college and the connections I made with professionals and fellow students remain to this day, ultimately leading to my first job in the field. This didn’t happen on its own, but rather through active involvement and a consistent presence at local, regional and national events throughout my collegiate career. Anyone studying public relations without joining PRSSA is doing themselves a disservice, and they may wind up answering questions from interviewers like me who really value what the organization does for students.”
– Kevin Saghy, Public Relations & Marketing Specialist, Chicago Cubs.
“My PRSSA membership without a doubt is the most impactful decision I’ve made in my life. It has determined the city I live in, the friends I keep up with, the job I go to every day and even the woman I am going to marry. Professional development that PRSSA offers helps separate members from their peers. Most importantly, networking opportunities with industry practitioners, educators and other members will provide members with a mosaic of best practices to utilize and job leads to explore.”
– Ryan McShane, Senior Account Executive, Taylor.
“PRSSA was the key to unlocking many doors for me during my time studying PR in school and onto the first few years on the job. PRSSA helped me to identify mentors, expand my network as well as land my first few internships, which eventually turned into a full time job at a PR agency. I strongly encourage students who are interested in working in the PR field to join PRSSA to get a head start on the competition and level the playing field when it comes to job searching. When I interview potential intern candidates and I see that they actively participated in PRSSA, they jump to the top of the list.”
– Joseph Tateoka, Account Supervisor, Corporate Technology, Edelman (Chicago).
“When you’re in college, the one thing you work toward is getting a job. PRSSA prepares you in college to get a job through personal and professional development at conferences, workshops, meetings and other fun activities. When you graduate college as a PRSSA member, you can transition in to PRSA anywhere you choose — this is the network you want to join to meet people in any area and the network you want to join to help get you a job.”
– Lauren K. Gray, National President, PRSSA, 2012-2013
“Being an active member of PRSSA is the your gateway of opportunity to pursuing a career and landing a job in public relations. Given my participation on the Chapter and national level of PRSSA, I was able to secure my first job post-graduation through relationships I made with professionals while being a PRSSA member. My PRSSA membership, activities, involvement and accomplishments within the Society gave me a competitive advantage allowing me to stand out from other candidates. Paying your monthly dues is simply not enough to leverage all the benefits PRSSA membership offers. Taking advantage of every leadership opportunity within your Chapter and PRSSA national, attending local, regional and national events and staying engaged in your Chapter is the key to effectively landing your first job after graduation.”
– Brandi Boatner, Digital Experience Manager, IBM.
“PRSSA has ensured me that this is the career I need to be in. With all of the opportunities i have come about through events, workshops, networking with industry leaders, etc., I was able to grasp specific knowledge and guidance within the specific path I wanted to take in the industry. PRSSA serves as a full service organization and always produces nothing but the best.”
– Hilary Jurinak, National Vice President of Internships and Job Services, PRSSA.
Want to become a dues-paying PRSSA member? Shoot me an email (email@example.com) to get the details.
Special thanks Kevin Saghy for inspiring me to write this post, and a big thank you to all those who shared their PRSSA experiences with me so that I could create the post.
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!
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!