Information Overload

April 15, 2011 at 8:43 pm (Comm 2322 Topics of the Week)

Phew!! What a whirlwind of a semester! I bet we can all agree that we are happy to see the summer months in reach as we finish up our last few classes this month. I have learned so much that I can’t possibly list a “top 10” of what I learned this semester, however I’ll do my best to cram everything in one last blog post for the spring of 2011. I learned,

  1. How to write a Press release
  2. That you truly need to be careful about what you blog about because the rest of the world can read these posts as well (not just our class)
  3. Organization skills are impossible to live without as a PR professional( and PR student for that matter)
  4. Writing is your new best friend. There is no way you will survive in this field if you do not gain strength in your writing skills.
  5. Have an AP stylebook on you at all times. Is it tee shirt, T-shirt, t-shirt? Well, that’s what the book is for.
  6. Networking is essential! Start while you are a student. Most PR professionals will connect with you while you are still learning. The more experienced in the field, the harder it is.
  7. Stay up to date with all types of social media. This includes but is not limited to: Twitter, twitter chat, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, Facebook, Myspace, etc. etc. etc.
  8. You must be able to multitask. There will be many jobs for you to accomplish, as well as many more opportunities presenting themselves along the way. Prioritizing is important when picking and choosing the right tasks.
  9. Public Relations is a fast paced career. You’ll have to think quickly on your feet and hope for the best. Great ideas and experience is what makes a great PR professional.
  10. Most of all, love what you do. Have a passion for people and for what you do. This is incredibly important when pitching an idea. If you don’t love it, then who will?

Public Relations is a growing field, and PR firms and departments are always looking for bright and talented newbies to liven up their staff. I plan to implement these skills toward a great future in Public Relations.

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Extra Extra! Read all about how to write a terrific press release.

April 9, 2011 at 9:37 pm (Comm 2322 Topics of the Week)

There are many ways to entice a reader to want your client’s product or service. Press releases come in pretty handy when selling an idea, but it takes practice. The obvious skills of persuasive and descriptive writing are important to tell a story, however there are 10 more skills that I would like to share in order to effectively write a press release.

  1. Make sure the first 10 words of the press release are effective. These are the most important -(taken from this website)
  2. Always write in third person (taken from this website)
  3. (For the love of God) Be concise and grammatically correct (taken from this website)
  4. Do not publicize an event that happen a few weeks ago. News is NEW!  (taken from this website)
  5. Write a strong headline. Try witty, spicy, daring, funny, or tastefully controversial. (taken from this website)
  6. Talk about the impact of this news on your company, location, employees, community or industry. (taken from this website)
  7. Keep the press release short and sweet by eliminating the fluff and hype words. (taken from this website)
  8. Use key words (not buzz words) at the beginning of the first paragraph.This makes your release search engine friendly. (taken from this website)
  9. If you have a small business that you are attempting to gain press for, try making major news stories a local spin. (taken from this website)
  10. Lastly, make sure that your release does not sound like a thinly veiled advertisement. You are writing to inform after all. “This will only get you a ticket to the trash” as this writer says it (on this website)

If you stick to these general rules, chances are you’ll knock the socks off of your audience. The goal is to hook, line, and then sink the readers to loving your product, or feeling informed on what is going on with your client.

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Those PR Hot Shots in Government Have a Huge Job

April 8, 2011 at 3:49 pm (Comm 2322 Topics of the Week)

I shared with you all on Tuesday about how the government distributes information to the U.S. citizens, and I would like to elaborate to the students of COMM 2322 of how important public relations is within the government.

There are three scopes in which the government distributes information. They are the governmental agencies, the congressional efforts, and the white house efforts. There are around 10,000-12,000 governmental employees who deal with public affairs. This may seem like a large number however this is a normal percentage of any company. The government just happens to be the U.S. number one employer so the number seems so large.

The PR professionals who work within the government are called public affairs officers or POAs. These POAs answer press and public inquiries, write news releases, work on news letters, prepare speeches for top officials and oversee the production of brochures and plan special events. Top level Public Affairs Officers will sometimes even counsel top management about communications strategies and handle crisis situations.

Public image is important the executive staff, especially the President. This is the reason why each public appearance is carefully created to make the President appear healthy and lively in a favorable way. This also helps keep up his ratings, which is always beneficial when he is introducing new legislation ideas.

State information services provide information to each individual state. POAs work within the Department of Tourism to liven up economic activity within any particular state. They also work in the Department of Health in spreading the word about the flu season, or other types of health threats.

City information services are focused on a specific city to distribute news within an information specialist. They help to promote new businesses, new jobs, and deal directly with the mayor.

Although the government is extremely efficient in their efforts to distribute information, there are many criticism that are valid when looking at where the tax money is being spent, and the phony larger than life press releases that reporters receive on behalf of these POAs.

For my entire presentation on chapter 18, check out my Comm 2322 Powerpoint presentation.

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Internship meeting

March 28, 2011 at 10:24 am (Comm 2322 Topics of the Week)

On March 23, 2011, there was a communications department informational meeting on internships. I had attended because I have to serve my internship this summer, and I must admit that it is quite overwhelming to prepare for everything that an internship brings. Do not fret! Step by step instructions are available and if you missed the meeting then you are in luck because I have everything you need to know  on how to serve an internship.

First word of advice is find an internship! This may seem simple and silly, however many students do not know that finding an internship is their responsibility-not the responsibility of their advisors or professors. This takes research, and preparation. Add #PRopenmic.org, #internchat, and @HeatherHuhman to your twitter account to skim for any new internships available in communications.

Have an outstanding one page resume with active verbs under your skills, and include your High School if you wish. For more information on how to produce a knock out resume check out this link.

If you are going to serve your internship with Southeastern University, then here is a link for all of the paperwork needed to earn credit for the work.

Although we may all have the best intentions to do great as we work for a company who was kind enough to allow us to come learn for the summer, there are 10 steps to help us rock our internships. Barbara Nixion has compiled a list of what great interns do which makes them so successful.

  • Learn names- of anyone who is anyone in the office! Don’t be caught 3 months down the road not remembering the person who you communicate with every day.
  • Be on time always- punctuality is a must! Find out what “on time” means with your company. A 10a.m. meeting may mean strolling in at 10a.m., or it may mean presentations start at 10a.m.
  • Dress the part- professional casual does not mean jeans and a nice shirt. And ladies, no cleavage please.
  • Ask questions- interns are supposed to ask questions. This is why we must intern. We don’t know what we are doing, so when we are being trained, don’t just nod your head and say you understand if you really don’t.
  • Recap every meeting- make sure that you are completely aware of what is expected of you by voicing every objective to your boss. You may have had the wrong idea, and you may end up having less of a world load.
  • Avoid personal use of social media on the job- leave facebook and twitter for your own time, not on the companies’ time
  • Don’t complain, especially publicly- you never know who you are complaining around. This could get you into a lot of trouble.
  • Save copies of all your work (that you are allowed to keep)- you’ll need it for a portfolio in the future when you are looking for jobs in the communications field.
  • Keep in touch with the company in which you interned.- it’s great to be on good terms with a company who may need to hire PR professionals one day.
  • Leave an impression- you want to be memorable, not just for your reputation-but the reputation of the school that you represent.

All of these tips will help you “Rock your internship” if you keep them in mind for the duration of your internship. Thank you Barbara Nixion for having a great guide to keep for the next 3 months.

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Martin Waxman sharing insight on Public Relations

March 23, 2011 at 11:58 pm (Comm 2322 Topics of the Week)

I listened to the interview with Martin Waxman and I enjoyed listening to him discuss his company that is based out of Toronto, Canada. His agency is considered a boutique agency, which basically is emphasizing the size of the organization being quite small.

He found podcasting fun to do, and I found that surprising. I figured that a person as busy as he is would not enjoy being pulled in another direction to conduct a discussion that took more time out of his Sunday evening. The weekly podcast is available every Wednesday on iTunes, and is called “Inside PR”.  The show generally takes about 40 minutes before they start recording, which I never knew before this interview.

Digital footprints and “personal branding” was mentioned at some point during this interview. This is something I would like to learn more about.

He teaches social media classes, where he teaches PR students to utilize their skills and integrate social media tools which he has found to be a challenge. As an employer, some of the things that Waxman looks for all the traditional skills having to do with media relations. Although the PR world is evolving, it’s important to be grounded in the basics. He’s also looking for people who have an understanding of social media. Although a prospective employee may not be completely active in the social media world, they need to be following people on Twitter, Facebook, etc.

A tip that Waxman offered during this interview had to do with a blog that a prospective employee had submitted as apart of her portfolio which contained many spelling and grammar errors. It is so easy to look over those errors when you are in school, however when you are submitting a blog to an employer, it does not look good at all. The girl ended up loosing the opportunity to work with his agency because of this mistake.

I am surprised to learn how organizations closely watch what consumers are saying about their services and products. Apparently there are high tech tools that allow them to see every single thing that mentions the organization’s name.

Martin Waxman gave a lot of insight on how a traditional PR background is important to have before integrating all of the social media tools. Unfortunately this is how many students become frustrated when first getting their feet wet in the world of PR. His tips and words of wisdom were helpful in learning from more than one source, which is why I found the interview to be so successful.

 

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Interviewing a PR professional- Cheryl Smith

March 16, 2011 at 11:27 pm (Comm 2322 Topics of the Week)

I interviewed Cheryl Smith from New Oakland Child-Adolecent & family Center. It is a Michigan based comprehensive mental health facility that my Mom works at, and I was able to talk with Cheryl about her career working in PR/Marketing.  Cheryl graduated with a business degree from Central Michigan University in 1993 and has had an array of jobs before focusing on PR in 1998.

 

I learned quickly that Cheryl has a type “A” personality, and was able to get along with her great.  When I asked her what a typical work week was like she answered, “Building relationships and maintaining those relationships is the main focus of my job. I connect with targeted organizations, host “meet and greets” with our staff hosting meetings which is mostly physicians, schools, insurance companies, the court system, non-profit organizations, psychiatric facilities, etc.” She also prepares the displays for group events and trade shows.  One of the last responsibilities she mentioned was surprising to me, because I thought that it was usually one of the main duties of a PR professional. “I also plan and direct PR programs designed to create and maintain a favorable public image for my employer,” said Cheryl.

 

A project she particularly found to be rewarding involved the development of her company’s bi-monthly newsletter. The reason for this was because she was given freedom to decide what material she felt would make the biggest impact on her “target market” and it ended up being well received.

 

She stressed that keeping current with the PR field was extremely important, and she does that by researching the latest on the industry news every day so that she knows what the competition is up to.

 

One thing she wishes she would have known before getting into PR was getting in with the right company that has the potential for growth is an important key for success.

 

She said that writing is very important in PR, and I’ll be doing it constantly if I enter into this field. It is a large portion of her job responsibilities and if you struggle with writing, then learn quickly how to improve, because there are plenty of talented people out there who could take your place.

 

The internet has greatly changed the way PR is done. The information can be immediately shared with an enormous audience, which works in all in our favor. It also helps you to keep an eye on what the competition is doing.

 

When I asked for three tips she would give for someone (like me) who was interested in perusing a career in PR, Cheryl said, “Network to build positive relationships for your company, put your name out there and study people’s opinions. Understand everyone’s attitudes around you-your company, the consumer, and the community. Lastly, always be organized. Read everything you can about your industry so that you may never be surprised.”

 

Cheryl was so helpful in assuring that I certainly am going in the right field. This wasn’t her first career path, yet she says she enjoys going to work everyday. This is partly due to the company that is in a growing industry, and party due to her boss giving her the freedom to plan her own days to do what she thinks is needed.

 

She encouraged me to find an internship where I will have a well-rounded exposure to the PR field, and if I strike an interest in a specific field in PR to pursue furthering my education in that direction.

 

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Guest Blogger- Tiffany Hobby

March 15, 2011 at 11:44 am (Comm 2322 Topics of the Week)

Valentines Day Recap

Valentines Day: A day created out of love, but hated by most.

For once in my life I was looking forward this year to Valentines Day (probably because I actually had someone to celebrate it with); I had it all planned out, blueberry heart-shaped pancakes, then the fair for the classic ferris wheel ride with your soul mate and all the junk food you can manage to eat. Monday, February 14th was going to be perfect! Except for the fact that we are both workaholics and didn’t bother taking the day off, so we ended up having to work.

Kyle, my boyfriend, is a pastry chef at Bern’s, and while he specializes in making sweet treat I would rather read blogs about yummy things that I have absolutely no idea how to make. Since I admire all the blogs on WordPress about food, I came across an article that I fell in love with, get a ring on it.

In a nutshell; she had been dating her boyfriend for a very very long time and he still had not proposed yet. An older couple told the woman to take her man to Europe, and he was sure to propose, but that already been the previous year, and he had still not popped the question. So she decided that this year she was going to make a coffee cake for her boyfriend, and he proposed that night, proving that ”the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.”

So I figured… why not try it.

I made the desert after work, since I am disabled in the cooking part of my life my best friend came over to help. I had the cake set for the minute till he was supposed to get off work, but to my surprise the cake took longer than expected and Kyle got off early, so he had to help me with checking to see if it was done.

We stayed up almost all night eating cake and talking about our future. Although I didn’t get a ring, I am happy to say that my engagement was, and will never be, on Valentines day.

 

The Pear and Apple Coffee Cake Recipe:

Servings: 12

Cook Time – 1 hour and 30 minutes, including prep. time. (Maybe even less if you’re a Master Peeler)

Ingredients (Where would I be without commentary?)

For the Cake:

1 Stick and 1 Tablespoon of Unsalted Butter – room temperature

1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar – the original recipe calls for 1 1/2 cup but it really isn’t needed

2 Large Eggs – room temperature

2 Cups All Purpose Flour – Sifted

2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon

1 Teaspoon of Salt

1 Teaspoon Baking Soda

1 Cup Sour Cream – I used low fat, and let it sit out for about 30 minutes, so that it could come close to room temperature. Please don’t forget about your sour cream, you should not leave it out for more than 1 hour. I also used a dry measuring cup to measure the sour cream (as opposed to a liquid measuring cup).

2 Teaspoons of Pure Vanilla Extract

2 Medium peeled, cored, and chopped pears – I used D’Anjou

1 Medium Apple – I usually use granny smith but thought I’d try it with a honeycrisp apple, which I already had in stock.

For the Crumble Topping:

1/2 Cup Packed Light Brown Sugar – I am still having a love affair with dates so, I only used 1/4 cup of sugar and substituted the rest with about a cup of chopped (and seeded) dates.

1/2 Cup of All Purpose Flour – if you are substituting some of the sugar with dates like I did you may want to add an addition 1-2 tablespoons of flour.

1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon

4 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter – Room Temperature (Soft)

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The dreaded interview

February 25, 2011 at 11:16 pm (Comm 2322 Topics of the Week)

Interviewing can sometimes be very stressful. For graduates who are entering into their field for the first time, it is discouraging, however it doesn’t have to be. In the past week I have gained useful information on how to conduct yourself in a job interview.

Now, I’m looking at this from a woman’s perspective however men should be mindful to keep composure when asked the dreaded “What are some of your weaknesses?” question. Quite frankly, the best way to answer this is to answer honestly. If  you have an issue with time management then make sure to tell the interviewee, but spin it off into a good thing if possible. When you begin to feel nervous, focus on why you are there and how you are a fresh new employee with a lot of ambition and energy to handle not only the interview, but also the job.

Remember that you are going into an interview in an effort to provide a service to that company. Yes, you are there to get a paycheck, but try not to view the situation revolved around you. This is going to help you score in an interview. Look at it like “What can I do for my employer?” instead of “What is my employer going to do for me?”

I read an interesting article on some tips to interviewing. Some were surprising, such as the tip on mirroring the interviewee.  This might be beneficial to you if you are truly in a uncomfortable spot.

Also, be sure to check out a basic list of Do’s and Don’ts for a job interview. I particularly agree with the pointer on not chewing gum during a professional interview.

When creating a resume, be sure to use active verbs. I have attached a list here to help with that process. Include your high school if you would like, and any jobs that you kept during your college years. This will be a good sign that you are responsible with keeping up your grades while maintaining a steady job.

Keep your chin up and tuck in those shirts. Everything will come together nicely once you get the hang of it. Most of all, go with confidence.

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Poynter

February 16, 2011 at 9:16 am (Comm 2322 Topics of the Week, Comm 4333 Topics of the week)

Want to learn how to get ahead in the fast paced world of social media and public relations? Then check out Poynter‘s website and learn all about what is going on today.

One of my personal areas of Poynter is the Latest news tab. I love current events and I like to keep myself updated on what is happening around the world. Most of the news topics are on journalism, marketing and PR subjects so that even when you are keeping up on current events, it will always relate to your profession somehow. Not only does this section cover current news events, but it also includes interesting and helpful features that are blogged or reported involving writing for any type of media.

Another area of interest is the training tab. This section of the website focuses on helping those who are interested in taking initiative in their careers and  learning how to broaden their horizon in their field by using new programs. Students can learn in person by attending workshops for a fee, or they can learn for free by taking the online classes for free. This section also helps current businesses achieve goals within the company to keep costs down and activity up. There are many ways that Poynter can inform the company, and the individual.

There is also a section on the website that lists jobs that are available. Prospective employees can view available  jobs and leave their resume for employers to view and pick through. This is great because all information needed is in one convenient spot for both the employee and the employer that are trying to meet their needs.

Poynter is a valuable tool in the communications business, and is a great home base to refer to whenever you are dealing with struggles with learning to use the Associated Press style , beginning to learn how to market toward a particular age group or even looking for a new job.

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The fast lane.

February 9, 2011 at 11:40 pm (Comm 2322 Topics of the Week)

Young people have a lot of energy. They have a lot of ambition, and they have a lot of drive because they are fresh out of college and ready to explore their field. They like to have their opinions heard and they enjoy working hard till they leave work, only to go home and sleep like a rock. This is why I think it is more beneficial for a new PR practitioner to begin their career in a PR firm.

There are many entry level opportunities, although pay is traditionally low. I think that everyone should start at the bottom of the chain of command to work their way up. Low pay comes with it. Usually new PR practitioners are young and do not have a family to support yet. Although low pay doesn’t cover student loans, that is how life works.

PR firms are fast paced and exciting. It’s not like corporate PR where work is slower paced. It’s a great opportunity to learn a lot, very quickly, and with a lot of variety. This is perfect for the younger people, who are energetic and not burnt out of the field. I would consider this the perfect beginner PR job because a lot of experience is gained in a short amount of time, and there is a lot of promotion opportunities.

Corporate PR is geared toward very talented and very seasoned PR practitioners. The pay is better, the benefits are better, and there is less turnover to fill up the day. I doubt  the average newbie has the patience to sit through a day at the office of a PR department. These jobs focus on a few specific areas, and in order to find a job, you must be good at that specific area. I just don’t see a new practitioner having the skills and experience to perform these tasks.

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