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.
Have you ever contemplated double majoring? How about double majoring in the journalism school? Majoring in journalism and public relations was one of the best decisions I made during my college career. I started off my academic journey in Allen Hall as a “super j” major. But last June, I decided to add public relations to my degree audit. At the time, I was not sure why I wanted to do this, but now I am glad that I did. Here are my reasons why I believe you should consider adding a second major in the journalism school.
1. You will make DOUBLE the connections
One of the best parts about double majoring is the amount of connections you will make. From the day I decided to add a second major, I connected with more professionals than I ever imagined possible. I also made strong relationships with my public relations and journalism professors, who helped with me with numerous opportunities.
2. You will know AP Style like the back of your hand
Associated Press style. Whether you are in the public relations sequence or in the super j program, you must know AP style. It’s easy to say that if you are going through both of these programs simultaneously, you will learn to love your AP stylebook because you’ll know almost every rule.
3. Multimedia? You have it down pat
Have you ever thought about adding a multimedia piece to a campaign you’re working on? No problem. After going through the super j pathway courses and the PR sequence, your multimedia skills are on point and can make a solid project, dynamic.
4. Your writing skills will go through the roof
If you decide to add another major, you can expect to do a great deal of writing. If you’re looking to become an even stronger and skilled writer, double majoring is for you. After taking multiple writing-based courses, I am beyond confident in my writing. This skill had aided me in all different areas in public relations and journalism.
5. Multitasking and time management are a breeze
Multitasking and time management can sometimes feel like two daunting skills. But after going through these academic programs, that becomes a much simpler task. Juggling my assignments, office hours’ appointments and internships are apart of my everyday routine. Multitasking and time management seem effortless after you become familiar with your ongoing schedule.
Olivia Gonzalez is a senior, majoring in public relations and journalism. She hopes to work in the sports marketing and public relations field, specializing in reputation and brand management. She hopes to move back to the Los Angeles area after graduation and she is excited to begin her professional career.
Strong writing is one of the most critical skills a PR student can acquire, and yet it’s easy to overlook in favor of more flashy skills like event planning and social media strategy. That’s why we invited PR professor Courtney Munther to lead a writing workshop for chapter members.
Couldn’t make it to Wednesday’s meeting? Here is a recap of Munther’s advice for writing like a pro:
Frame Your Story. By focusing on one aspect of your story it helps to hone in on what you want to address. This gives your readers a sense of direction.
Be Sure to Be a Storyteller. Being a storyteller gives life to your story. Writing is about the human connection and engaging your readers on a deeper level than the surface fluff.
What Are Your Key Messages? Make sure you have your key messages created throughout your story. A key message could make or break the concept of the story you are creating.
Have Compelling Quotes. People will respond if you are using emotion in your writing. While stating the facts works well to inform different publics emotional quotes will cause these publics to respond and act to your cause.
Use Active Voice; Not Passive. In PR it is so important to be concise and get to the point. Cut through the clutter by using an active voice instead of a passive voice. This simplifies your writing into a clear and direct voice. If you have trouble with active voice start with using the subject in the beginning of the sentence instead of the ending with it.
Struggle with Writing? Practice, practice, practice! The best way to get better at your craft is to practice. Be sure to try to write in active voice while practice!
What are some of the best pieces of advice you have received about writing? Is there any work you have read that has stuck with you? Comment below and share your experiences!
Karly Tarsia is currently a junior majoring in Public Relations. She is also the internal events project manager for UOPRSSA. Feel free to follow Karly on Twitter at @karlytarsia
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.
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
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: email@example.com!
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 Aimee Gregg, University of Oregon PRSSA member. Photo by Callie Gisler.
University of Oregon students have countless avenues to get involved on campus; unfortunately, there is no way to take advantage of every opportunity, which can make the decision of what organization to get involved in overwhelming. A good way to get the most out of your time is to find activities that allow you to combine your professional goals with your campus involvement. Here are five ways for public relations students to get involved on campus:
Though we are somewhat biased, the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) will provide you with the opportunity to network with fellow public relations students and professionals, and learn more about all facets of public relations through professional guest lecturers.
Allen Hall Public Relations (AHPR) is an entirely student-run professional public relations firm that takes on real clients. It helps public relations students network with each other, as well as with small businesses and nonprofits in the area. It also gives students valuable hands-on experience, while maintaining high professional standards. The work that students produce is the perfect addition to any portfolio.
3.) Marketing or advertising groups
Both marketing and advertising are closely related with public relations. Learning more about these professional areas is a great way to expand your skills set to become a more marketable professional. You might also uncover an entirely new interest or passion. Examples of marketing and advertising groups on the University of Oregon campus include American Marketing Association, Allen Hall Advertising, Ad Society and more.
4.) Campus publications
Many campus publications including Flux, The Daily Emerald and Ethos have public relations related positions that are fantastic practical experience. Attaining writing, marketing, multimedia and other journalism-related positions in these publications can be a great way to broaden your skills set and diversify your portfolio.
5.) Volunteer your public relations services
Sometimes the best way to get involved on campus is to find an activity that you are passionate about, even if it is unrelated to your professional objectives. You can obtain public relations experience by helping your club or activity gain exposure on campus. This is a mutually beneficial option. You develop your public relations skills, while serving the needs of other students on campus.
Campus involvement is key to getting the most out of your four years here. These are just a few options; however, there are more than 180 student programs at the University of Oregon. Browse through all the student groups at orgsync.uoregon.edu to find the perfect fit for your interests.
Are you interested in becoming a guest blogger for the University of Oregon PRSSA chapter this term? We are looking for posts and articles on all things college, public relations, networking, social media and blogging, and more! Share your best stories, tips, interviews, and advice! Why should you consider becoming a guest blogger this school year? Let us tell you…
The ideal post is 300-500 words in length, free of spelling and grammar errors, and is of course, your own original work. Each post should include an applicable image or photograph. Articles and posts might be edited to best suit the UO PRSSA blog. Submit your post in Word Document or PDF format to PRSSA Public Relations Director/Blog Editor Callie Gisler at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Looking for other publishing opportunities this term? The national PRSSA organization offers several chances to publish your work. The PRSSA National blog Progressions tackles a range of PR, PRSSA, and professional topics, all written by fellow PRSSA members. Click here to learn more about submitting a blog post to Progressions. PRSSA National also produces FORUM, the official PRSSA newspaper, which is published three times a year. Click here to learn more about submitting a written piece to FORUM.
Questions or comments? An idea for an upcoming UO PRSSA blog post? Contact Callie Gisler at email@example.com. We would love to hear from you!