By Sierra Goodman
Public relations agencies are like snowflakes; no two are the same. Some specialize in business-to-business and some in business-to-consumer. Others combine PR strategy with advertising and digital. Boutique agencies may have a team of 10 while a large agency may have hundreds of team members.
During Fall term, members of the University of Oregon’s PRSSA chapter explored four agencies in Portland including LANE, Gallatin, Gard, and Edelman. Each agency offered something different as far as future employment. In case you couldn’t make it, here is a summary of the agencies we visited:
Lane PR is headquartered in Portland with locations in New York City and Seattle. In 2011, the agency was acquired by Finn Partners, a global marketing communications firm. At the Portland location, they represent companies in the local food and beverage and financial sectors including 10 Barrel Brewing Co. and Umpqua Bank. Their focus is on B2B and B2C relations for business and sales success through platforms such as investor relations and social media marketing. Wendy Lane Stevens, president and founder, commonly asks interviewees to walk her through their resume, explaining their academic and work choices from senior year in high school to present day. Knowing your own story and having a business mindset will serve you well at Lane.
If you are interested in public affairs, Gallatin is the place for you. They specialize in business, government, politics and media. A job at Gallatin involves plenty of community outreach and communication to help clients initiate change. Some specific campaigns involved crisis communication after a NW Portland building explosion in 2016 and event planning for a gathering of Portland’s female restaurant owners. At Gallatin, President Dan Lavey, says that he is looking for personality and independence when hiring interns. The agency regularly hires interns each year so make sure to look out for future opportunities and set up an informational interview.
Gard Communications is an advertising and public relations firm well-versed in crisis communications. They have local, national and global clients that they work with closely to ensure a strategic plan that works best for them. Advancement of brand reputation and defensive tactics give the agency an edge in times of serious crisis and marketing management. This agency is ideal for people who work well under pressure and in a fast-paced environment.
Edelman is the largest public relations agency in the world and ranges in a variety of sectors such as technology, brand, corporate, public affairs and just about everything in between. Their Portland location is small with 50 employees compared to other locations like their New York office with 500 employees. With locations all over the world, they give employers an opportunity to work abroad to experience different cultures. Edelman is proud to say they are a leader of earned media. Although employees are encouraged to diversify themselves in different fields and projects they tend to hire off of people’s niches such as healthcare, technology and digital. As we heard on all four tours, Edelman was no exception saying that excellent writing skills are imperative to have in the PR industry.
PRSSA’s Development Tours offer a unique experience to students by providing a window into specific agencies and PR sectors. They are especially helpful in narrowing down your job search down the road by helping students learn more about what their life might look like in a job outside of UO.
Applications for the Winter term Professional Development Tour to Seattle go live Monday, Jan. 8. Visit prssa.uoregon.edu/tours to learn more and apply.
By Talia Smith, UO PRSSA Communications Director and former Veracity intern
For our last meeting of Fall term, Amy Rosenberg of Veracity Marketing in Portland was kind enough to drive down to Eugene to talk to our chapter about traditional versus digital PR. As we found out, there is no difference.
Amy’s presentation was unique to our guest speaker lineup as we had yet to learn about digital PR and how it can be the “secret weapon to SEO.” Many of us have heard of SEO and know it’s important, but we don’t really know what role we will play in SEO as PR students and aspiring professionals. Amy did a great job explaining what we can do to start thinking digitally to make media coverage go further while helping clients maximize their online presence.
First, if your client doesn’t have a website, encourage them to create one or outsource someone to make a “SEO-friendly” site. Amy compared a company’s website to a flyer, except this flyer doesn’t end up at the bottom of your purse. A website provides your brand’s stakeholders with a platform to learn more about them and follow up. “If you don’t have a presence online, you don’t exist,” Amy said. The call to action of most of your PR efforts are going to lead back to this website which is why it is essential your client has one.
Once your client has a website, you need to help people find it which is where SEO comes in. In a nutshell, websites can get lost in a sea of search results on Google and Bing and SEO helps a site rank higher to garner more clicks. Let’s be real, no one is going to click to the second page of Google. In order for a website to be useful it must appear in the top results when using keywords associated with your brand. Blogging provides a website more keywords for people to search.
Once a website and blog are up and running, PR and social media can be used to drive viewers to the site through links. When it comes to securing media coverage, Amy suggests keeping your pitch to five sentences or less and linking out to a press release as reporters appreciate brevity. Also, don’t spam anyone. Instead, take the time to personalize a pitch and offer the same respect to all positions in the newsroom. Amy says bloggers and writers are the most important people in the newsroom to PR professionals because they could be editors five years down the road.
Once you secure media coverage, it is imperative to get the link so it can be sent to your client and shared on social media, an important step to amplifying viewers. It is also wise to have an “In the News” tab on a website and have an ongoing list of links to recent media coverage. If you can’t find a link to coverage you know you secured, Amy recommends asking the digital editor who is responsible for placing stories on a traditional news media outlet’s website. You might feel like you are bothering someone just for a link but Amy assures that these digital editors understand you are asking for SEO purposes and will respect you.
At the end of the presentation, Amy was asked what students can do to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to digital and traditional PR. She suggests “showing up” to professional development organizations such as PRSSA and PRSA for PR and SEMpdx for digital. Fortunately, Amy will be speaking at SEMpdx’s Engage conference in March 2018.
Thank you, Amy, for sharing your insight about traditional and digital PR. Please come back soon!
By Sierra Goodman
Local reporters, Tiffany Eckert, Justina Roberts and Amber Wilmarth, were on our media relations panel at our Nov. 1 chapter meeting. The three answered questions and informed members about relationships with public relations professionals and reporters.
Public relations professionals and reporters have a symbiotic relationship. Public relations professionals provide reporters with newsworthy stories and reporters provide PR professionals a platform to tell those stories. The key is to maintain the relationship on both a professional and personal level. Similar to any other relationship it requires mutual respect, communication and trust. Here are nine ways PR professionals can foster positive relationship with journalists:
1. Use the 5 W format
Journalists live on fast-paced schedule which means they need to know the who, what, when, where and why in a concise manner. Introduce yourself in a short and simple sentence. The pitch should be about a paragraph long to give enough detail about what you are pitching and why it’s important to the reporter and public as well. The ability to write concisely is a skill learned with practice so don’t beat yourself up if it takes an hour or more to write a paragraph.
In the past, it would be deemed inappropriate and unprofessional to resort to texting a reporter instead of calling or emailing. Texting is becoming a more efficient means of communication as reporters don’t have time to go through emails all the time and they are always on the go. Just make sure you have met or talked with the reporter at least once.
“I think that the most important part of PR is communication; communicate well, communicate distinctly, communicate visually.”
3. Initiate and maintain
Yes, we are in the year 2017 where apparently texting between professionals is now acceptable. However, it is still necessary to communicate in-person as well and introduce yourself. It is important to do so whenever the chance is given and to make an effort to make those chances possible. As Gossip Girl would say, “Remember public relations rule number one: your value is your social network.” Building these unique relationships develops overtime, there’s a number of angles to go about maintaining them. This can be anything from complementing them on a recent article they published to going out for a cup of coffee to discuss an impending exclusive. It all depends on where you’re at in the relationship.
4. Keep an exclusive, exclusive
One day in your PR career, you may be given the opportunity to give an exclusive news story to your favorite reporter. If you tell them it is exclusive, stick to your word and only share this information with them. Trust is lost if you tell multiple reporters you have an exclusive story.
5. Be crystal clear about an embargo
Following up on the last statement, be sure to make it clear when a story is an embargo. In this case, the term embargo is described as an agreement between a PR professional and reporter that information given will not be released until the time stated. It’s easy to misunderstand unless it is explicitly said the story is not to be released until the given date.
“What is the most important 15 seconds I could tell this reporter?”
6. Be available
There is nothing more annoying to a reporter than getting an interesting press release only to find out the contact is unavailable for further details. This forces them to move on to the next story making the day harder for both of you. If they are not able to rely on you for a quick response it can severe sever the relationship. Most reporters understand that PR professionals have a busy life too and may not be able to respond immediately. In this scenario, it is important to at least acknowledge that you have received the reporter’s message and let them know when you will be able to get back to them.
7. Get your story in before 8-10 a.m.
Before the day officially starts, reporters meet with the news team between 8-10 a.m. During this time, they are preparing stories for the rest of the day. If you want a reporter to pitch your timely story at the morning meeting, be sure to contact them BEFORE 8 a.m. If you contact a reporter after their morning meeting, the news agenda is set, your story will not be able to be fit in and it is old news by tomorrow.
8. Give plenty of lead time
Although reporters learn to live in a fast-paced environment, letting them know information a few days to a week in advance allows them to take a breather, even if only for a second. This step is important in maintaining a good relationship with the select journalist. No one wants to be working against the clock if they don’t have to.
9. Don’t pitch an advertisement
This part will take some time to master but it’s an important one. In order to not sound like an advertisement, a pitch requires some humanity. Remember to mention how what you are pitching effects the audience who watches the news. At the end of the day it’s one human speaking to another.
By Erica Freeze
As the school year is coming to an end, it is important for college students to have updated résumés for future careers or internships. As a graduating senior, I constantly find myself updating and changing my résumé to best represent who I am. A résumé can include other elements besides words – different colors and fonts can all help to show who you are to a potential employer. Potential employers make snap judgments about who you are from a simple glance at your résumé. Because of this, it is important that your résumé makes a positive impression on readers. There are certain mistakes that people make time and time again on their résumés that will make an employer turn his or her nose up. Here are some common mistakes and how to avoid them:
1. There is not enough white space.
You want your resume to appear clean and professional. Overcrowding the page with too much text will most likely overwhelm an employer and cause him or her to not want to read through the whole page. Being precise and to the point on résumés is the best way to go. When an employer receives your résumé, you want them to be able to glace at it and get a general idea of your experience. Additionally, it doesn’t hurt to have a visually appealing layout with some color or a logo you have created to represent who you are. If you’re adept at graphic design, there are general résumé layouts in Microsoft Word and also simple design platforms online such as Canva which have premade templates.
2. You didn’t include results-oriented language.
As aspiring public relations professionals, we know that results are very important in understanding how to best target key publics. Employers want to see how you drove change at a previous job or internship. They want to know what you have to contribute to their company to drive change. Your résumé should be clear about results you’ve achieved. It can be as simple as “increased Facebook page views by 15%.” If offered an interview, you can elaborate on how you did so, but it is important that on paper you show them that you do include how you contributed to your past job or internship.
3. Your objective statement could use some work.
If you decide to include a statement at the top of your résumé, try to steer away from an objective statement. An example of an objective statement is, “Seeking a role as an account coordinator to advance my career in the public relations industry.” There are a few problems with this statement. It is very bland, and the focus is on what the candidate wants for herself, to advance her career, rather than providing information on how she can generate change for the potential employer. Instead of that, try using a statement that shows your value to a company. An example of this would be, “Transforming communication problems in the entertainment sector into intensive, results-backed solutions. Creating results through identifying stakeholders, building relationships and implementing change.”
4. You didn’t include skills.
You can list out your skills in a section or provide them interwoven throughout your résumé in your experiences. Employers need to see your skills and how you applied them in previous positions. These skills can help you stand out from other applicants. In a CareerBuilder survey, 35% of employers stated résumés that don’t include a list of skills is one of the most common résumé mistakes that may lead them to automatically dismiss a candidate. If you decide to weave your skills into your resume, start with the skill and then include how you generated positive results because of this skill.
5. You aren’t confident in your past work experiences.
As a student in the SOJC, I know that classmates can get competitive with each other, and sometimes it feels as though you may not have enough experience or involvement to stand out. Don’t give up, and don’t represent a lack of confidence on your résumé. If you have no PR experience, highlight the skills you acquired in another job and how they can relate to the position you are applying for. For example, if you are a server, you can say something along the lines of “accurately recorded orders and partnered with team members to ensure satisfaction for our customers.” This shows that you have experience working on a team which most likely helped you enhance you r communication skills. Additionally, if you have no work experience, highlighting certain classes on your résumé is okay to do as well – that’s how I got my first internship! Be confident in what you have to offer an employer, even if it isn’t a bunch of work experience in the field you hope to end up in.
The job hunt can be a tricky one, but be confident in what you have to offer employers with an awesome, updated résumé! This is a first impression of who you are and what you have to offer. Use these tips to help you stand out among competitors!
Time spent studying and sometimes even doing public relations at the School of Journalism and Communication isn’t time wasted, and your portfolio should show that.
At the end of the PR sequence there comes a time where you present a variety of work you’ve done to present your story. For some, this “final” assignment can be daunting, terrifying, and can make you feel anxious as the day for Portfolio Reviews swiftly approaches. To help ease your terror, PRSSA has a run down of what to expect and how to prepare.
Here’s a short and sweet run down of how the review will go the day of:
Note that you might want to bring something to take these notes down. A phone may not be the best device to do this.
Prepping for the review doesn’t mean just practicing your presentation or putting together your portfolio. There are a few other things you should keep in mind and probably execute before.
Do your homework. Think of Portfolio Reviews as a job interview ⎯ in this case an interview to graduate. The week before you have access to the review schedule. Take the opportunity to learn more about your panel. This helps put into context what each professional’s takeaways will be during your presentation.
Conduct a social media audit on yourself. If you haven’t Google searched yourself, now is the time to. You can bet that the folks who are chosen to be your reviewers will most certainly Google search you before your review session. Don’t forget to use the “grandma” rule. If you think your grandma wouldn’t appreciate a photo, post, or tweet get rid of it.
Double and triple check your e-portfolio. Attention to detail is a known attribute for any public relations professional. Make sure your first impression made online isn’t a bad one before the review.
Dress professionally and appropriately. Many students struggle when it comes to dressing professionally. It doesn’t mean wear four-inch heels you bought the day before or a suit jacket you had passed down because it’s the only “formal” thing you have in your closet. You want to look and feel the part. Reviewers know when you swung things together last minute. Follow these dress rules from Ann Taylor for women and GQ for men. Note for women: keep in mind the demographic of your reviewers. When wearing dresses, err on the side of caution.
Present your work as it pertains to your story and these three major points: the problem, solution, and impact. Each piece of your portfolio shouldn’t be there just to be there. It has to tell your story. Figure out how that piece of work relates to your overall theme or has shaped the way you perceive public relations. Remember that your materials have to tell your story without you in the room.
After your review, send them an email an hour to two hours later. Within 24-72 hours, send them a personalized thank you card. These folks are here because they care about how well you thrive in the industry. Take the time to tell them thank you for gaining valuable advice.
Abbie Mulligan, President, serves as the chapter’s resource and mentor, for our members and the executive board. When she’s not in Allen Hall, you can find her helping to strengthen the university’s relationship within the community. Follow her on Twitter at @abbsmulligan.
It can often be nerve-racking or even intimidating to go on PR agency tours in different cities. You are meeting PR professionals who could potentially hire you one day for your dream job. However, when going on an agency tour, there are a few things to remember that can help you get the most out of it and have an experience that will benefit your future.
Do your research.
Before going on an agency tour do your own research on the agency or agencies you are visiting. Find out what type of PR they focus on, who their clients are and the size of the agency. After some basic research on the agency itself, read over their employee bios to find out more about the people who work at the agency. This will give you a better picture of what the agency culture is really like.
While you are researching, brainstorm potential questions you would like to ask. Think beyond the generic questions you can answer yourself by looking at their website and ask questions that will make you stand out. Also, ask questions that show you have done your research. Mention specific clients you know they have worked with based on the research you have done, not just what they are telling you on the tour itself.
Be professional and courteous.
Remember, the agency you are visiting is taking time out of their busy schedules to educate you on what their agency does. Be respectful of that and engage with the professionals who are conducting the tour. Say, “Thank you for your time, I really appreciated learning more about your agency.” When it comes to networking after a general presentation, remember not to jump the gun by giving them your resume or business card. Unless the moment is right, this will give the wrong impression.
Dress to impress.
It is very important when going on any agency tour to dress appropriately and in business professional attire. It is always better to be overdressed than underdressed. Slacks, pencil skirts, appropriate blouses, blazers and closed toed pumps or flats are appropriate for women. Men should wear slacks with a dress shirt and dress shoes. Blazers and ties are also appropriate.
Whether you have completed multiple internships or are preparing for your first internship, here are some best practices for interns to make a difference:
Being professional means something different to everyone you ask. Exude professionalism by taking your work seriously. As an intern, you may be delegated large or small tasks. No matter the task, appreciate the opportunity your supervisor has given you and complete it with honesty and integrity. Being professional also encompasses sporting a professional image. Your image includes your online image as well as your personal image; the best advice I’ve received about my personal presence is to not dress for the job you have but for the job you want.
Treat Your Internship as a Real Job
While an internship in nature seems temporary, treat your position as a real job. It is vital that you honor the commitments that you make during your internship and self-regulate yourself. Before you start, be sure to research the company and its industry. This knowledge will not only show that you care about the company but also allow you to do better work. Once you build a foundation with your boss, ask him or her about the different business functions you are curious about. You never know — your internship could lead to a full-time position at the organization. The more you know about a company and its culture will help you decide if you would be interested in staying with the organization.
Take your internship in your own hands by going the extra mile. Ask your supervisor and colleagues if you can help out with a certain project or shadow them for a day. Ask if you can attend meetings, if it is appropriate, and speak up during them. By being an active listener and engaged participant, you show your colleagues that you are interested in being a part of the team.
By being an intern, you are surrounded by professionals of many levels and industries. Use this new network of yours to build relationships and ask questions. Listen to those around you; every individual has valuable advice. On the same note, remember it isn’t about you. Remain humble about your accomplishments. Most importantly, say thank you to your supervisor and colleagues for the opportunities they have given you. Even after you leave, be sure to stay connected and check-in from time to time.
Hallie White serves as the Vice President for UO PRSSA. She spent Summer 2014 as an intern at UPS in Atlanta, Ga. Follow her on Twitter at @halliecwhite.
Networking is essential to a successful career. You should already be working to build relationships with your peers and make connections with professionals. LinkedIn is one of the easiest ways to accomplish this, but it’s not the only effective way. So what are other ways to start networking as a full time student?
I just returned from PRSSA National Conference in Washington, D.C. this past weekend. I have to say that this is the “headquarters of networking.” After being placed in a group of PRSSA students and thrown into a mixer with PRSA professionals, I gained some insight on networking effectively.
Here are my top three ways to network as a student:
Demonstrate your skill-base through multiple platforms
Did you know that LinkedIn is not the only way to exhibit your skills and experiences? Not that LinkedIn isn’t effective, but there are other tactics to network. In-person communication has been proven to be the most effective way for others to remember you. By putting a face to a name, people are able to remember each unique personality. On the other hand, WordPress, Cision and Vocus are other unique online databases you should begin developing.
Force yourself to practice
Put yourself in a situation where you will have to make conversation with unfamiliar people and professionals. I know, I know – who wants to use their free time to talk to strangers, right? But it’s a well-known fact that practice makes perfect. Start going to mixers on campus or attending meetings and dinners organized by groups associated with your interests. Even if you’re not good at networking now, the practice will send you on your way to being an expert. Start building your networking skills now, so when the time comes, you’ll be prepared to wow.
Always have your projects and information on hand
If you don’t have business cards, I’d suggest you design and order some. If you don’t have a portfolio of your work, I’d suggest you put one together. These methods give you hard-copy ways to demonstrate your skill set as opposed to just tweeting your projects or publishing your work online. Prepare for the possibility of networking at any time.
Sophie Lair, Finance Director, manages and prepares the chapter’s budget for the academic school year and collects annual dues from members. Sophie is currently majoring in public relations with a minor in French. Follow her on Twitter at @sophielair.
Didn’t make it to our meeting last night? We talked with a panel of professionals, including Ian Bragg of CMD and PRSA New Pros and Matt Hollander and Taylor Robertson from Vox PR. Here are six things we learned from them:
Pitching is a big deal. Taylor Robertson said that was the thing that shocked him the most when he started his first job out of college. His advice? You just have to pick up the phone and do it. Be direct and target the reporter who fits the story best rather than “blanketing” the pitch by contacting every reporter you can think of.
Knowing how to use social media isn’t enough. You have to be comfortable talking about the analytics behind your efforts on social media in order to show the value of what you’re doing.
Network constantly – it really is all about who you know. Companies hire internally first, followed by the people they know. Job postings are always a last resort and they’d rather not comb through a trillion resumes. Graduating in the spring? Start doing informational interviews now.
Network even while you have a job. One of the fastest ways of advancing is hopping from agency to agency. Most people only stay in an agency for 2-3 years.
Between an unpaid internship and no internship, take the unpaid one. You’ll be able to parlay that into work soon enough and the experience will be worth it. However, you should never stay in an unpaid internship for more than three months.
The working at a small, local agency: At smaller agencies, you can get your hands on a lot of different projects in your first year. By having to wear multiple different hats, you can find out what you ultimately want to do.
Make sure to join us for our next meeting on November 5 where we’ll be talking with Funk/Levis’ digital strategist Trevor Steele about integrating digital new media into campaigns.
Hannah Osborn, Public Relations Director, is a senior pursuing a double major in public relations and magazine journalism. She manages all UO PRSSA social and digital media platforms. Follow her on Twitter at @hannahmarieoz.
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? Start blogging.
I started my own blog, Creativity in Doses, in 2009. And boy, has it come a long way since then. Blogging has taught me important lessons in writing, editing, marketing, business tactics and brand management. As a result, I can personally vouch for these four reasons why every PR student should have a blog.
Become an expert
Did you know that once a journalist has written three articles on the same subject, he or she can be considered an expert on the topic? Blogging can do the same for PR students. Start a blog in a niche you’re passionate about, be it fashion, food, sports or something completely different, and you’ll be on your way to establishing yourself as an expert in that area.
Find your voice
Finding your voice — your real one, not the scholarly essay-like one — is one of the most important things you can do as a college student. That’s the voice that you’ll use when writing pitches, new releases, even memos to your boss. Blogging on a regular basis can help expedite that process. Once you’ve found your voice, you’ll be able to begin learning how to tailor that to different clients and projects.
Demonstrate your writing skills
It’s a well-known fact that employers want to hire good writers. Even if you’re not one now, starting a blog and having peers read your work will allow you to practice sentence fluency, word choice and grammar. You’ll not only grow as a writer, but you’ll also end up with plenty of writing samples to pull from.
Develop your personal brand
Blogging gives you a platform to put your own thoughts and ideas out there, which is so much more crucial to your personal brand than simply retweeting what everyone else is saying. Think about what you want to be known for on the web and stay consistent.
Want to learn more about blogging? Come to our Blogging 101 Writing Workshop on Wednesday, October 15.
Hannah Osborn, Public Relations Director, is a senior pursuing a double major in public relations and magazine journalism. She manages all UO PRSSA social and digital media platforms. Follow her on Twitter at @hannahmarieoz.