By Talia Smith
It’s the PR major’s dream to snag a big-name internship over the summer, plop it on your resume in the fall and have a dream job nailed down by the time your graduate; it doesn’t always work out that way. Some of us spend the summer taking classes, traveling or working. There’s nothing wrong with that, and in fact, there are still plenty of ways to keep building upon your résumé and portfolio if interning does not fit into your summer plans. Here are some options to consider:
Create Your Own Blog
Writing consistently over the summer is a great way to practice discipline. If you can give yourself deadlines to meet, then not only will you improve your writing but you will end up with at least one solid piece to add to a portfolio. Employers like to hear that you write for pleasure because it’s an indication writing is more than a just requirement but it’s also something you are passionate about.
A few summers ago, I wrote a travel blog when I took a cross-country trip. I mentioned it in a cover letter which was later brought up in an interview. Mentioning my travel blog opened up a conversation which would not have otherwise been brought up in an interview, and the more conversational you can make an interview the better!
After creating a collection of samples from your blog, you can take your writing a step further and try freelance writing. There’s a bit more effort required for writing freelance, some trial, and error, but after all of the hard work you could end up with a published piece of writing that will hold weight in your portfolio.
First take a look at the writing opportunities offered on campus. There’s the Emerald, Spoon University, and Her Campus, to name a few. If you’re looking to make a little bit of cash, you could check out a freelance writing aggregator website which will post opportunities. If you have an idea for an article, you could approach a local publication and pitch them an idea. They might want you to write the story and often appreciate articles from a college student perspective.
Manage a Social Media Account
Do you have a family member with a small business? A friend who is an aspiring musician? Or are you a volunteer somewhere that is lacking an online presence? Offer to create or manage a social media account over the summer and see how many followers you can gain. Coordinating social media for someone will provide you with quantitative results to add to your resume and you can include the screen grabs in your portfolio. That’s a summer side hustle well spent!
Volunteer Design Skills
Do you have an eye for graphic design? There are plenty of nonprofits that could use your help designing flyers, brochures, posters, social media graphics and more. Whether you have access to Adobe InDesign or use the “freemium” design website, Canva, you can really make a difference to a local charity or fundraising event by offering your skills. At the end of the event, you’ll have a spread of pieces to add to your portfolio.
If an internship is not in the cards this summer, there are still plenty of opportunities to contribute to your portfolio and expand your resume. Each of these suggestions requires self-initiative which future employers will appreciate. While you’re hitting the books, traveling abroad or working at the pool this summer, see if you can arrange one of these side projects to keep adding to your repertoire of communication skills.
By Erica Freeze
Planning is essential to designing an effective public relations program. Planning in public relations involves researching, understanding a problem, and implementing a program to solve this problem. Adequate planning will determine if a public relations campaign will be a success or a failure. Because of this, it is important to know how to plan before starting a project both in school and in a public relations career. Here are some tips on how to plan appropriately for your next project:
Break down the elements: Public relations plans are broken down into four main elements: analysis, strategic research, implementation, and evaluation. A situation is a set of circumstances facing an organization. Without defining and analyzing a situation, it will be impossible to complete efficient research or to define the goal of a communications program later in the process. Research helps practitioners define a problem and think strategically. It is important to look at the bigger picture while analyzing and researching a situation. A situation analysis must factor in all parties, including stakeholders, teammates and the organization itself. It is important to accept the feedback of these parties so that a campaign team can predict and establish a goal. Once this feedback and research are outlined with an end date and goal in mind, the plan can be implemented.
Include all parties in decision making: Any public relations professional must be prepared to overcome any obstacles that occur during the implementation of a strategic plan. If a plan is implemented and there were disagreements on objectives, the plan may not satisfy the end goal. If there is an absence of feedback from an account manager, as well as any vital departments and stakeholders, important information and opinion may be forgotten. It is important for public relations professionals to be aware of any obstacles before they happen so that they can be fixed in a timely manner.
Determine success: How will you measure the success of your plan? Just as an organization’s goals and objectives change over time, the performance metrics that your team uses to track progress should also change. Metrics can show not only where the company is succeeding but also highlight specific areas of weakness. As data accumulates, the matrix can display trends and identify places which need improvement. There are tools such as Google Analytics which measure website or social media interactions, and then there are more advanced services, such as CyberAlert, which displays analytics for earned, owned and social media. Depending on the organization you work for, learning how to understand analytics tools is crucial to understanding the ways in which your company is falling short and succeeding.
Public relations is a constantly changing field. It is important to keep on top of the latest consumer trends and to have a thorough understanding of all parties that will be affected by a campaign. In order to launch a campaign, a strategic plan must be created. The capability to think strategically is what helps adequate public practitioners become strategic planners. Without a strategic plan in place, a campaign will fail because of a lack of understanding of a final goal. What are some ways you have found planning useful in your projects?
By Talia Smith
I’m going to be honest; I’m a total Podcast geek. But can you blame me? Podcasts are revolutionizing the way we consume information. First of all, they’re free. There are thousands of Podcasts to listen to in just about every category and they can be download directly to your smartphone. Second of all, they’re great for multitasking. Podcasts are perfect for anyone looking to learn more about any given topic but lacking enough hours in the day to read a magazine or a newspaper. You can learn something new from a Podcast while simultaneously cleaning your room, exercising, riding the bus or walking across campus to your next class. Personally, I love to learn more about the world of business through Podcasts.
It’s no secret that PR professionals need a business mindset in order to succeed in the industry. In fact, many PR majors start out as business majors and many PR majors choose to minor in business. I don’t fall into either of those scenarios, which is why I use Podcasts to learn more about the related field. For those like me, who want to know more about business, but don’t have the time to pick up Bloomberg Business Week, head to your Podcast or Stitcher app and subscribe to these 4 shows:
Freakonomics will help you rethink the dreaded economics requirement in the SOJC curriculum. The show uses economics to answer quirky sociological questions such as: Should Kids Pay Back Their Parents for Raising Them? How Much Does Your Name Matter? And Why Do We Really Follow the News?
Freakonomics is a must-listen for PR pros because of its array of topics and self-improvement episodes which provide a window into the study of incentives backed up with economic statistics. When you have a better idea of what makes people tick, then you can be successful at selling yourself and a brand you may represent. Many of the findings are surprising which why it is the kind of show you can’t help but share with others.
Listen to Episode: How to be More Productive
Learn about the eight steps to a more productive work day. Here’s a hint: motivation, focus, goal-setting, decision making, innovation, absorbing data, managing others and teams. Check out this episode for more context.
If you like the TV show Shark Tank, and are interested in how modest people grow successful companies from the ground up, then you will like How I Built This. You will hear interviews from millionaires and billionaires talking about how they overcame obstacles and filled a gap in the market with brands such as Patagonia, AirBnB, Spanx, Cliff Bar, and Southwest Airlines. These entrepreneurs became successful because they were able to effectively promote themselves and their products. Listening to their advice will offer insight into promoting a brand, starting a business and the tenacity required to do so. It is helpful to learn about the homemade PR that goes into the success of these companies.
Listen to Episode: Warby Parker: Dave Gilboa & Neil Blumenthal
The founders of this discount glasses company used their PR skills to barter with their supplier for inventory. You’ll see how it pays off to be skillful at both business and PR.
Planet Money offers a powerful punch of all things pop-culture in the business world in just 15-20 minutes. Listening every week is a great way to stay on top of business news headlines while learning something new and interesting each time. Since I started listening, I feel more in-tune to major business news stories such as Brexit, the Wells Fargo bank scandal and oil prices which I might not have paid as much attention to if it weren’t for the podcast’s excellent storytelling. Planet Money has the ability to take these topics and create a capitating and informative audio story.
Listen to Episode: #729: When Subaru Came Out
Subaru was facing an identity crisis back in the early 1990s and it wasn’t until they received help from a small ad agency that the car company was able to subliminally become the America’s hip and outdoorsy car brand.
Marketplace is a daily rundown of everything that is happening with the economy and stock market. Sounds boring, but I promise it is not convoluted. Hint: When they “run the numbers,” upbeat background music indicates the stock market is doing well whereas background music in a minor key means stock prices have dropped. Especially when working for a larger company, it is important to know the basic concepts about how the stock market functions.
Listen to Episode: You know what, just download the latest episode. Listening to marketplace is like listening to the news and you’ll want to listen to the most recent one.
If you’re looking to know more about the business world than listening to these podcasts is a convenient way to stay on top of current events and business trends. Public Relations and business go hand-in-hand and you will benefit from being knowledgeable about both. Next time you are washing your dishes, pop on a Podcast and see what you can learn about business.
By Pablo Lopez
Connie Chandler, a public relations instructor in the School of Journalism, gives us her top-three reasons to build relationships with our instructors on campus.
Networking. Networking. Networking.
This word gets thrown around at us in college classrooms like our parents reminding us to eat our vegetables at the dinner table. But like our vegetables, why is it important?
More importantly, why should we network with instructors that we have to deal with for 10 weeks? Ten weeks should be more than enough time, right? Wrong.
Personally, I rather call it “building relationships.” It doesn’t sound as professional, but as students, I think we’re here to look at instructors as our friends and not as an associate that we’re competing with, dreading to ask them for help and cringing at the thought that they’ll embarrass you in front of the boss.
It’s true, we have a lot on our plate. It is almost impossible to meet with instructors when you’re trying to balance the workload of four or five classes while working a daily job that requires countless hours of physical labor.
Connie Chandler, a public relations instructor in the School of Journalism and Communication (SOJC) agrees. Chandler says, “Students are busy. And going to office hours, if you feel like you have a pretty good handle on what’s going on in the class, may seem like it’s too much to add to your schedule. But I think that the other part that students need to think about is that the instructors in the program that you’re in –in this case PR – really care about where you end up.”
These are Chandler’s three reasons to build a relationship with instructors.
1. Connection: We are here to learn from instructors.
It’s obvious that books cannot teach us everything. We can go to class twice a week, ace the course, and still be oblivious to what’s going on in the work place. Chandler says one of the best reasons to build a relationship with instructors is not only because they ‘have great deal of knowledge on the skills we are learning,’ but because they have ‘a fair amount of practical experience in the work place that you want to go into using those skills.’ They’re here to help; use them.
2. Good Practice: Instructors welcome “cold emails”
It’s an awkward, and sometimes intimidating introduction that you have no idea how to approach. As hard as it sounds, it’s not that bad. Instructors know that we have questions, and sure we might sound a little nervous, but don’t be hesitant and just do it.
Chandler explains that it’s as easy as sending an email. “Most instructors in, for example, the PR sequence, would be open to even just an email that says: ‘I’m a student in the public relations program and I know you are an instructor in the program with a special interest in leadership – for example like Dave Remund has – and I’d like to sit and talk with you. Can we do that sometime?’”
If you have a relationship with an instructor already, she recommends you simply ask to be introduced either virtually or in person with another instructor in the department that they think would be a good person for you to sit and talk with.
3. Access to Opportunities: Guidance into the right path
If you’re reading this, you’re most likely in the same boat as I am. We need a well-trained sailor to help us get to the destination we’re trying to reach. Which is exactly where the instructors come in to play. Chandler shares, “part of helping you get to that place is certainly the skills that you’re learning in the classrooms, but it’s also in getting to understand what you’re specifically interested in as an individual and helping in anyway that we can to guide you toward the path that you really want to take.” An exceptional staff surrounds us in the SOJC, and ultimately, they are here to help.
You landed the internship position, worked hard for months to gain valuable work experience and built up your resume. The hard part is over, right? Actually, there’s a lot you can do even after your internship ends to make the most of the experience. From maintaining your professional network to including your new experience on your resume, here are the post-internship dos and don’ts.
Do send a thank you note
As your internship comes to a close, make sure to send each person you worked with a handwritten thank you note. Recognizing the people you worked with is the first step in maintaining a relationship after the internship is over. Be sure to tell each person exactly what you appreciated about him or her. From the person who helped you complete a certain project to the person who made you feel included ¾ who doesn’t love getting a thank you note?
Do keep in touch
The people you work with at an internship are valuable contacts to have. They can become references and even mentors, letting you know of job opportunities and putting in a good word for you. Stay in touch with fellow interns, coworkers and managers by connecting with them on social media, especially on LinkedIn. Check in with your old coworkers every few months to see how things have been going since you left. Keep informed on what the company has been up to and congratulate former colleagues when they launch a new program or win an award. Your former manager is rooting for you to succeed so let him or her know what you’ve accomplished since you left. If you come across an article you think a former coworker or manager would be interested in, don’t be afraid to pass it along!
Do ask for a letter of recommendation
You never know what personnel changes might happen after you finish your internship. The last thing you would want is to need a letter of recommendation and not be able to get in touch. Asking now will save both of you time and stress. Plus, it’s always better to have them write about your contributions while your time there is still fresh in their minds. By asking for a letter of recommendation, even if you don’t need it right away, you’re setting the stage to call for a reference later.
Don’t burn any bridges
Not all internship experiences are positive ones. If you are disappointed with your experience for whatever reason ¾ maybe your supervisor took you for granted or your duties lacked educational value ¾ refrain from sharing your feelings on social media or in another job interview. Give your honest feedback in an exit interview or send an email to your internship manager, but keep it constructive. You never know when you might need a reference, so be sure not to leave on a negative note.
On the other hand, maybe you had a fabulous internship experience and think your supervisor is your new best friend. It may seem like once the internship is over, you can be free to let your walls down, but be careful to keep any relationships you’ve formed professional. Don’t go to a bar with coworkers and get drunk. Don’t friend your former employer on Facebook if you’re going to be posting scandalous party pictures. Don’t publicly engage in an inappropriate conversation on social media.
Don’t lie about your experience
When you’re including your internship in your resume, it can be tempting to exaggerate your roles here and there. Although you want to put your experience in a positive light, even if you spent most of your time fetching coffee or filing papers, make sure you’re still being honest about what you did. Focus on results you achieved, rather than your day-to-day tasks in order to better convey your value.
What have you done to make the most of an internship even after it’s over? Let us know by leaving a comment.
A career in public relations is like a roller coaster: the ups and downs are almost always unpredictable and sudden. Aside from the dinners, parties and exclusive events, there are many other perks to working in the industry.
You hear news first. Public relations professionals are responsible for monitoring and disseminating news about their clients to the media, meaning you would be the first to hear breaking news about your client or organization.
Your hard work is visible. Whether you win a bid on a campaign or successfully implement one, as a public relations practitioner you can “see” your hard work.
Your job is never static. You won’t be writing or looking at the same material day-in and day-out. Even when you’re working with only one client, the work is guaranteed to change drastically and rapidly throughout the job.
Now let’s get to the worst aspects of PR.
Your relationship with the media is unpredictable. Even if you have connections with the media, there is no way to ensure your event or client will make the news. Additionally, media coverage is not always positive.
You’re always tuned in. With the advent of the Internet, news operates on a 24-hour cycle. Therefore, you must stay connected to your phone or laptop outside of the standard eight-hour workday. The work doesn’t stop when you leave the office, but if you love your job this won’t be a downside!
You will be stressed. Forbes ranked the public relations executive the sixth most stressful job of 2014. The nature of the media, news cycle and clients means public relations practitioners must stay on their toes at all times.
If you find yourself loving the best aspects and embracing the worst, a career in public relations might be for you!
Do you have any good or bad aspects to PR that you’d add to the list?
Photo credit: NYC PR Girls
Heather Yount, external relations committee member, is a senior studying public relations. Follow her on Twitter at @yountstr_monstr.
Networking is an important career tool, but it’s one that some undergraduates overlook. According to a 2011 survey from Adecco Staffing US, 29 percent of recent college graduates wished they had better prepared for the job market by spending more time networking while in college. Networking is a time-consuming endeavor, but it can increase your chances of employment, connect you with experts in your field, and open up new opportunities. Here are four tips to help you network effectively:
1. Make yourself visible. You can’t network from behind your computer screen. Email and social media are great ways to maintain relationships, but don’t underestimate the value of face-to-face contact. Set yourself apart from the constant barrage of emails and tweets.
2. Cultivate real relationships. Meaningful relationships require a lot of energy. You need to invest time and build a rapport with your contacts before you can ask for a favor or referral. Learn about them, try to find common areas of interest, and, most importantly, remember that relationships need to be mutually beneficial. Successful networkers give as much as they receive.
3. Diversify your network. Networking is about more than employment opportunities and collecting business cards, so develop a variety of relationships. Through networking you can build a reputation in your industry, find a mentor, learn about workshops and seminars, and meet new people with similar goals. Professional organizations, peer groups, and online networks are a wonderful source of information, support, and advice.
4. Maintain your network. Your network will require maintenance, which means you need to be proactive about reaching out. You can do this in a variety of ways, but here are a few ideas to get you started: send thank-you notes, extend invitations to industry events, share relevant articles, or arrange meetings.
Networking can help you grow within your industry and give you a competitive edge after you graduate, so start developing professional relationships now. PRSSA and the SOJC provide opportunities to network throughout the year. How have networking events had an impact on your career? Share your experiences in the comments below.
Chloe Loveall is a writer, an artist, and a slave to the creative process. After spending two years traversing the globe, she has temporarily settled down to study journalism and advertising at the University of Oregon. Follow her on Twitter at @ChloeLoveall.
As a young public relations professional, it’s important to stay current on everything happening in the industry. Reading PR blogs will aid you in this goal and teach you many invaluable tools along the way. You will:
When it comes to PR blogs there are so many to choose from, so you may wonder how to limit the scope. Find PR blogs that focus on what you’re passionate about. Search for PR blogs that write it a voice you connect with, such as humor or numbers. Here’s a list of top rated PR blogs to get you started:
Once you’ve found PR blogs that speak to you, it’s important to read blogs in your daily routine. Maybe you’ll read while you’re drinking your morning cup of coffee or during your awkward 20-minute break between classes. If you stay informed on PR news it will only add to the knowledge you can bring to a future internship or job.
Use apps and programs that organize all the sites on one page to make blog reading easier! Bloglovin’ is a great site to keep track of the blogs you follow and let you know when new posts have been added.
The PR world is full of knowledge that you can access at any stage in your career. Take advantage of PR blogs and tap into the insights that surround you.
Ruby Hillcraig, external relations committee member, is a senior at the University of Oregon studying public relations. Ruby hopes to pursue a career in fashion and beauty PR when she graduates in spring 2014. You can reach Ruby at email@example.com.