Every term UO PRSSA plans a trip to a different city to visit public relations and communications agencies. Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, Eugene, and soon to be Santa Monica, are a few of the cities PRSSA has visited and will be visiting in the future. Attending an agency tour has numerous benefits, however, you may still be unsure about what those are. If so, here are five reasons why you should go on an agency tour.
Attending an agency tour allows you to make face-to-face connections with professionals in cities you may not have other opportunities to visit. By attending an agency tour, you are able to create connections with professionals that may lead to internships or jobs. By making these connections in person, your professional relationships become stronger and you’re likely to make a lasting impression.
Professional Q&A sessions take up a large quantity of time on agency tours. During these sessions, you are able to practice asking questions you may ask in an informational interview at an agency. You are also able to network with the professionals in the offices and are able to practice your elevator pitch. The agencies we visit want to get to know you and help hone your skills.
We visit many different kinds of PR, communications and marketing agencies on our tours. The agencies we visit focus on industries ranging from tech, lifestyle, food & beverage, fashion, hospitality, consumer, business-to-business, and more. We also visit agencies that are small and boutique, or large and global sized. If you are unsure about what areas of PR you might be interested in, this is a great way to explore and learn more.
Attending an agency tour also means you get to know fellow PRSSA members. It is always great to make new friends (especially those who share your major) and attending an agency tour is a perfect way to bond!
Visiting a new city with PRSSA will open your eyes to new places. Going on an agency tour provides you with the opportunity to enjoy an awesome city for a few days. By the end of the tour you may even find your new home post graduation. Either way, you are guaranteed to have amazing new experiences and connections after attending a PRSSA agency tour.
Tatiana Skomski is a junior studying public relations. She is originally from San Diego, California, and loves spending time with her dog. After she graduates, she hopes to relocate to Souther California and begin her career working at an agency. Tatiana specifically wants to work in lifestyle and consumer branding public relations.
Michael Nguyen is the Communications Coordinator at Susan G. Komen Oregon and SW Washington Affiliate. He earned his Design and Visual Communications degree from Western Oregon University. During his college career, he also participated in a study abroad program at the Florence University of Arts where he studied art history and photography.
Q: What are some of your responsibilities in the organization?
A: My responsibilities entail graphic design, web design, photography and social media. Essentially my role here is heavily visual communication design.
Q: What does an “average day in the office” look like for you?
A: An average day at the office has me checking my emails in the morning and responding to any questions or projects that I am currently working on. Various projects that I work on routinely would be maintaining care of the website, updating any information, managing what content goes on the front page and checking for trends through Google Analytics which show me statistics of all traffic coming to our site. Likewise, I go through our social media accounts as well to check on any messages or comments as well as to periodically post content and information about upcoming events and activities. Bigger projects that I work on depend on the time of the year. Currently we are going through our Year End Appeal. I have designed and sent out over 9,000 letters to our constituents as well as to our email database and I’m posting social ads through media outlets for maximum exposure.
Q: How did you land your position at Susan G. Komen?
A: I began as a graphic design intern working for Komen under the Director of Marketing, creating visual content for use on web, social and email. After several months I was then brought on part time as the Communications Coordinator eventually working with the Director of Development and Communications where I was then brought up to a full-time position.
Have confidence, be assertive, and make sure that if you make a mistake own up to it.
Q: What tips do you have for students coming into the professional world of public relations and communications?
A: Education is the foundation from which you start your journey. However, experience is ultimately what is required to push you forward not only in your career, but also in your skills. If you can start early and become involved in any organization, internship, company, or opportunity that allows you to practice real life applications while you are still in school, then you will have an edge over other candidates your age looking for similar jobs. That experience early on will easily translate over to similar encounters in your future career.
Additionally, work on your people skills! Practice mock interviews, if you find yourself stumbling on words or having a hard time answering a question, then you know what you must focus on in improving. This can be crucial in future negotiations, job interviews (negotiating salary can cause people to stumble and become tongue-tied), or communicating confidently at work with your supervisors or clients. With that also is networking: no matter how skilled you are, knowing the right people can take you very far. They can provide opportunities and connect you with potential job prospects or clients. Final tips would be to have confidence, be assertive, and make sure that if you make a mistake own up to it.
Lastly, take a look at this Ted Talk on body language that Michael recommended!
Shelby Nelson, External Relations Committee, serves as a project manager for the PRSSA blog. She is a senior pursuing a Public Relations degree. Feel free to follow her on Twitter at @shelbybriann.
Are you interested in social media strategy and how it is a defining force in public relations? Join the Social Media Club from 6-7:30 in Lillis 162 on Thursday November 20th to meet with social media professionals, Zach Wright and Kris McDonald.
Meet Kris: Kris McDonald currently works as a social media strategist at MMGY Global, the largest integrated travel marketing agency in the world, with clients including the Trump Hotel Collection, The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel and Casa de Campo Resort in the Dominican Republic. Recently, The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel were awarded with Adrian and SMITTY awards for their Google Glass campaign, the first of its kind in the travel marketing space.
Meet Zach: Zach Wright is an Enablement Consultant for Sprinklr. Sprinklr offers the only Social Media Management System that enables global scale for the social enterprise. Enabling brands to innovate faster, grow revenue, reduce operating costs and manage risk. Zach has been working in social media for six years and has worked with large brands such as GrubHub, Seamless, Nestle, Kraft, Sears and Kmart.
Zach and Kris graciously reached out to UO PRSSA to provide tips on social media strategy:
What does a typical day of work look like for you?
Z: My days are a mix of client calls and meetings with technical configuring of the platform for the client.
K: My days are usually very different. Some days I’m grinding out strategies, audits, etc. Other days I’m on the road visiting clients or helping them produce a campaign. Then some days I’m going from meeting to meeting. It’s a great mix and I get to interactive with a lot of interesting people.
How does a campaign on social media differ from other forms?
Both: As social media and end-user activity evolves, the best campaigns aren’t just inherently social or print or broadcast. The best campaigns are an integrated mix of various media. It’s all about touch points. When planning a vacation, most consumers have effectively been through 20+ touch points before making a decision.
How do you pitch social media strategies to clients who think they can do it themselves?
Z: With case studies of successful campaigns and applying it to things that are relevant to that client. You have to make them understand that this is truly the best course of action, and that it isn’t a stand-alone marketing function; it’s a support for the entire company’s strategy.
K: You have to make it relevant to the client by showing them case studies and previous successes. Ultimately they want to know why their money is best served in your hands.
How important is content planning?
Both: It’s important to plan proactive content because it allows all parties involved to be a part of the process from the client to strategic experts creating the content. Timely content will come up and replace some planned content, but it is imperative to always have planned content available. Posting on a regular schedule helps create an engaged community.
Why is social media strategy important in the PR industry?
Both: Social media strategy is no longer used as a standalone opportunity; it drives the entire marketing of a brand. It has lasting power that has been proven with results.
What is the best way to use LinkedIn to its full potential?
Both: Talk to people and engage with them. Connect with real world connections – people you’ve actually met. Don’t just hit connect because it may help you. Hit connect because you have a solid reason for connecting with that person.
Do you have any last tips you would like to share with our members?
Z: Work so hard that your company can’t work without you.
K: Never stop learning. Social media evolves daily. If you want to work in this industry, you better do the same.
Lauren Todd, Internal Events Director, plans internal events for UO PRSSA in effort to build relationships within the group. In her spare time, Lauren enjoys assisting with weddings and staying up to date on the world of pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @Lauren_Todd.
Are you interested in crisis communication or digital strategy? Trevor Steele will be joining us tonight to explore a few topics PR practitioners tend to overlook within the broader theme of crisis communications and digital strategy. We asked him a few questions to get to know him a little better before our meeting.
Q: How did you begin your career in the public relations industry?
A: I haven’t met a six year old who says “I want to work in PR when I grow up.” Perhaps this will change someday, but it certainly wasn’t my original life goal. I worked in professional politics through high school, college and a couple years after graduating from college, during the start of the recession. In college, I studied political science but found that communication studies had all the action. After a few years as a lobbyist, I opted to go into communications full time. I’ve never looked back.
Q: What is your favorite part about working in an integrated agency practicing PR?
A: I love the variety of the work I do and the skills each member of the team brings to a problem. I have an opportunity to work with incredibly creative designers and skilled account managers who bring different experience to the table. As part of an integrated agency, I have the freedom to look at both paid and earned media, and choose the best tool for the situation. This is the biggest benefit of an integrated agency practice.
Q: For students interested in crisis communication, what is one piece of advice you would give them?
A: The “rules” for crisis don’t differ as much as one might expect from most other types of PR, but things often happen faster. The best advice I can give is to come on Wednesday and ask questions. One other piece of advice: train yourself out of “writer’s block.” Writing is the one skill you can develop in school and apply to any situation in PR. Being able to write on command is crucial.
Q: When it comes to social media, what do you foresee its affect on the PR industry in the next five years?
A: Social media touches on so many different areas of an organization. Public relations is in the best position to take advantage of the changes in social media, but it requires an industry-wide approach. Don’t discount traditional media, but look at an integrated approach that blends traditional and digital into what is quickly becoming a “traditional” environment. Note that this is different from social media, which is also critically important. Social media is a little strange in that it is upsetting both marketing and PR, but ultimately I think PR will win out.
Q: What skills do you think students will need to embody when entering the post-graduate world?
A: Flexibility. Be ready to explore different areas with your career, and avoid getting locked into any one thing. That said, I also really want to see students pursuing their passions. At the end of the day, communications is a critical part of any industry and any effective organization. Look for the opportunity to pursue your passion using the skills you have acquired in school. Look for opportunities to continually learn and grow, but don’t lose sight of what makes you tick and what you want to do.
About Trevor Steele
Trevor came to Funk/Levis to help as a political strategist for the Lane Community College Bond campaign. His work to message, galvanize volunteers and implement outreach was an important part of the success of the campaign. Trevor returned to Funk/Levis in 2009 to help work with LTD in doing outreach to key influentials for the West Eugene EmX project. Trevor is heading up our Strategic Digital Communications department focusing on new media and social integration into branding campaigns.
Trevor graduated from Lewis & Clark College with a degree in political science and communications and from USC’s Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism with a Master of Arts in Strategic Public Relations. During his time in Los Angeles, Trevor was hired by the Milken Institute where he developed and ran the Institute’s social media program and developed new digital communication tactics.
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.
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.
Cathy Hamilton started Verb Marketing and PR, a full-service marketing communications firm, in 2003. Verb specializes in strategic planning and consulting, media relations, brand development and management and more. Hamilton runs Verb with her Creative Director, Doug Ferguson. As president, Hamilton has a variety of responsibilities ranging from strategic planning to sales to team management—ensuring that all work exceeds client expectations.
Q: How did you get where you are today?
A: That’s a huge question. I got started in public relations because I liked to write and I thought the PR field would be more diverse and varied than reporting. At that time, the advertising field required more that you could do your own design and I thought that you had to really be a true artist. Also, at this point there weren’t programs like InDesign and Photoshop and all of that, you had to be more of a natural artist, able to draw with your hand. I can art direct but not actually produce myself. So I headed into PR.
Throughout college Cathy had numerous different internships, and upon graduation Cathy received a job working in Marketing. She loved her job but was then offered a Public Affairs job in Eugene where she worked for 5 years. She wanted something more fast paced and found that she did like Marketing firms, but she felt that many of the clients were being pushed into a marketing solution for something that could more easily be solved by PR. Her mission was to change the idea of companies who worked under the notion “whatever we have…you get.” Her experience in both the Public Relations field and the Marketing field lead her to the idea integrating the two as one. Her vision was to create a small firm where the top people were always the ones working with the clients, and for her, a single person in charge of the PR and marketing.
Q: When did it “click” that this was the right field for you?
A: “I always liked writing. I think it was always clear I would do something with writing and it’s just morphed over time. It definitely started more with PR and then morphed more into marketing which I think is just more of a function of the market here and also just how communications has changed it’s just really in a totally different ball game than it was, even when I started–which was not–well I don’t think it was–that long ago. It was a totally different era for PR. It changes a lot which is what keeps me in the business. There are parts of it I don’t care for but the parts of it I do are that it is always changing so if you are a fickle person if you like that constant challenge–I mean really, right as soon as you think you’ve got it figured out it changes and you’re expected to be there ahead of the change–so if you like that kind of constant pressure it’s a great field.”
Q: What are employers most looking for in students with my background, as to day, with people just entering the field?
A: “A good writer. The ability of engage, to be responsive. What always makes me smile when we have interns is how they take feedback…I take feedback positive and negative all day long, you know? A client may not like a particular word and you just have to be able to bounce back and say ‘okay, we’ll fix that’. [In addition] you do always rely on that core desire and ability to write, that and an interest in experimenting and that willingness to be pushed all the time. “
Q: How do you see this industry changing within the next decade?
A: “I have no idea what we will see in ten years. You know, if you had asked me that ten years ago I would have said definitely electronic means. I wouldn’t have necessarily predicted the specifics of it, and I don’t think it’s even settled down yet, I think that we’re still trying to figure out. Yeah, we know social media is huge, we know how it plays in, and we know how to use it but what’s coming what’s going what the next big thing will be…is [all] up for debate. Regardless of that kind of [means] the thing that people have to be really good at is being flexible, being eager to learn. You have to have kind of an innate curiosity because that part will stay the same.”
Q: What special advice do you have for a student seeking a job within the PR and marketing fields?
A: “You’re pushed you will never become comfortable in this job. If you do then you need to be pushed a little bit more. And I think if you don’t like that it’s maybe not the right job…and there are times in life when you don’t want that, when things get chaotic you kind of want the calm which is why I’ve seen people slip in and out of the field…I think it’s more of a personality trait than a talent set. [Also you have to remember that] you will never put something forward the first time that is perfect. [This also] is a good reason to do internships, you find out what you like and don’t like and you can leave gracefully.”
Image (c) of Hamilton, Verb Marketing and PR
Post by Leigh Scheffey, PRSSA member for the 2012-2013 school year. You can contact Leigh through our blog editor: email@example.com.
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!
Paid or unpaid, navigating the role of intern for the first time can be a challenge for anyone. Internship experience is an important part of building your resume as a student. Here are some of our favorite tips for being successful in an internship role:
1. Dress Professionally. Be sure to dress appropriately and modestly at your internship. Be wary of cleavage and be sure your skirt is at least knee length. Your office is not the place to showcase your eccentric personal style. “Inappropriate dress will hurt your quest for professional respect,” said Lorra Brown (PR Daily). Take a look around you, get a feel for the office dress code, and look to model that.
2. Understand Your Manager’s Expectations. Your managers do not expect you to know how to do everything. They do, however, expect you to be able to follow directions. Bring paper and a pen to meetings so that you can write detailed notes when your manager is speaking. Don’t hesitate to ask questions; you want to leave the meeting with a clear understanding of how to complete any given task. Be sure to brainstorm ideas before reaching out to your supervisor so you come prepared and with a possible solution to the problem you are trying to address.
3. Learn to Take Criticism. At some point in your internship you will receive criticism. Your supervisors criticize your work for your benefit as well as the organizations. If you aren’t receiving any feedback, just ask; constructive criticism is key to improvement.
4. Act as an Employee. Although you are an intern, you should conduct yourself with the dignity and integrity of an employee. “Employers frequently criticize interns for lacking problem-solving abilities or their unwillingness to be proactive in generating ideas,” Lorra Brown (PR Daily) Keep yourself busy even when you don’t have a project to work on, ask others if they need help, and bring creative ideas to meetings.
5. Be an Advocate for Your Goals. Be clear with your manager about your expectations for the internship. If you begin the internship with the intention of gaining a certain skill, or creating a particular portfolio piece, communicate that with your manager. If they don’t know what your expectations are, you may end up performing a greater number of mundane office tasks. Your goals are an important priority, however, you are in charge of achieving them!
Post by Katie Keene, PRSSA member for the 2012-2013 school year. You can contact Katie through our blog editor: email@example.com.
A successful cover letter summarizes your relative experience and expresses your interest in a position. Your cover letter should leave the reader wanting to meet you for an interview. During the writing process, it’s important to use your unique voice, while also maintaining a professional and appropriate tone. Here are a few tips for making a great first impression with your cover letter:
Be personal. Whenever possible, address your letter to a specific person.
Do your research. Know what the position entails and learn as much as you can about the industry and organization you are applying for. Doing so allows you to focus on specific assets that match those of the position you’re applying for and tailor your cover letter to best suit the job.
Avoid using clichés. Employers sift through a number of cover letters with the same language. If you’re able to find unique ways to express your enthusiasm and interest for the position, you’re more likely to stand out.
Support your claims. Relate your strengths and experiences to the job description. This gives your letter substance. It also shows you are prepared for the position and prove your written communication skills.
Use active voice. It’s powerful. It shows your confidence. It keeps your ideas clear and easy to understand.
Proofread. Put your cover letter aside for a while, and then reread it. This is an old revision trick, but it works. You will likely discover grammatical errors and sentences that could be improved when you come back to it. Also, consider having a professor or advisor read over your letter – another set of eyes is very helpful when editing.
Don’t forget to format. Take time to make the letter clean and attractive. Keep the same font and header as your resume, but stick to traditional business letter formatting. Don’t forget to include a handwritten signature.
Your letter is the first impression a potential employer has of you as a professional. Remember, be yourself and let your strongest qualities stand out in your writing.
Post by Ruby Betten, PRSSA member for the 2012-2013 school year. You can contact Ruby through our blog editor at firstname.lastname@example.org