9 Things About the PR World You Don’t Believe Until You’ve Lived It

By Ashleigh Mavros, Ohio University graduate

mavrosI’m an odd one; I did the whole graduation thing a bit differently. I got a job, received my diploma and will return next week to walk at commencement. Usually, it’s the other way around. Nonetheless, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to dive into the PR industry at Fahlgren Mortine.

I toyed with the idea of writing a reflection about my time at OU, but it didn’t feel right (and it would just be rubbing more salt in the wound), so instead I wanted to pass along my experiences thus far as a Yo-PRo (young professional).

Professors, speakers and older friends always give us advice for the “real world” – I’m here to tell you LISTEN UP because they’re definitely on to something. Here’s what you need to trust me on:

Analytics are everything. Remember rolling your eyes and dozing off as soon as a professor mentioned ROI? BAD CHOICE. Analytics are at the core of all social, and if you can’t prove to a client what results you’re driving, then you’re not really doing much. I work on elaborate 20-page social reports on a monthly basis – you’ll be thankful you paid attention in class. 

Find your balance of Diet Coke Breaks and personal time. One of the hardest things you’ll come across in the first few months is the struggle between your type-A personality wanting to take on every project, working 10-hour days vs. longing to actually enjoy post-grad life and not get burnt out. There’s no right answer to this, but you’ll have to continuously work on striking the right balance.

Brevity, brevity, brevity. You’ll hear this a million times, but it rings true. The best writers are the ones who get a message across in a short, concise manner. I produce weekly reports for a foreign automaker that get distributed to a handful of non-English speakers. My writing has to be straight, to the point, and digestible. This holds true for any audience you’re targeting. You’ll be a hot commodity if you nail this down by the time you begin your first job.

Don’t take your first job offer & never stop learning. These go hand in hand – if you’re not coming into the office every day and being challenged and inspired by those around you, you’re in the wrong place. Don’t ever be the smartest person in the room, but make sure your opinion is appreciated. Don’t take a job just because it’s a job – you’re Scripps Kids and are deserving of a career you love.

Everything happens for a reason. This has become my life mantra – sleepless nights, dozens of tears and mini-breakdowns throughout the past couple years seem silly now. I wish I could pound this into your heads – you will end up at the right place at the right time.

Life doesn’t end after graduation, I promise! Do I miss Ohio University? More than I could ever put in words. But I know in less than two weeks all of my friends that made Athens such a special place will also be moving on. My lifestyle has definitely changed; happy hours have become my old Liquor Pitchers. My 2 a.m. bedtime is now midnight. It’s a big change, but I’ve loved every minute of it. Hard to believe, but things do get better. Onward and upward.

In case you missed it: Scripps PRSSA 9/9/13, RECAPPED

By Briagenn Adams

aaron brown, presentingThe first Scripps PRSSA meeting of the 2013-2014 school year was a huge success! With more than 93 people jam-packed into Scripps 111, the room was abuzz with positive energy and a particular PR excitement only known to us special Scripps kids.

As a reminder, sign-ups have begun for the Social Affairs Committee, the PR and Social Media Committee, the International Education Week Committee, the Mentor/Mentee program and PR Bootcamp. If you are still interested, be sure to add your name to the list at next week’s meeting!

As tradition would have it, Aaron Brown from Fahlgren Mortine Public Relations kicked off the year as our first speaker. You can read more about Aaron here:

Aaron opened the meeting by asking for the definition of PR. Almost immediately, about 17 different words were called out. “Promotion,” “story-telling” and “insanity” were among them. And yes, while PR does include all of those things, Aaron said, it’s also about so much more.

Aaron explained the three different types of media that dominate today’s PR world: paid media, earned media and owned media. While all three are and always will be important, earned and owned are beginning to dominate the field.

“92% of consumers around the world say they trust earned media – such as (brand) recommendations from friends and family – more than anything else,” said Aaron. “We need to stop thinking about mass communication and focus on individual engagement.”

In addition to current media trends, Aaron talked about the importance of Scripps PRSSA to his current career.

“I am at Fahlgren Mortine because of Scripps PRSSA,” he said. “The meetings I went to and the relationships I formed while in college are the reasons why I got my job.”

Very inspirational, Aaron!

To learn more about Fahlgren Mortine Public Relations, check out their awesome website.

On behalf of the entire Scripps PRSSA executive board, we can’t wait to see you all in Scripps 111 at 6 p.m. next Monday! 🙂

Which to choose: specialized vs. generalized PR

By Ashleigh Mavros

Sometime during your PR college career, you may find yourself wondering whether you should become a specialist or generalist. Here’s the short answer; there is no right answer. Some PR students will graduate as generalists and others as specialists, and both have the potential for long, successful careers. Generalists who have experience in a little bit of everything can remain flexible while specialists who perfect one skill set themselves apart from the competition. The only true guarantee when graduating with a PR degree is that in five years, the industry will be vastly different.

Take a look at how the two options compare to each other:

Specialized 

Most college students wake up in the morning and have trouble deciding what they want for breakfast, let alone what they want to specialize in for the rest of their lives. However, if you know what facet of PR you’re passionate about, why pursue other options?

Ben Lincoln of GolinHarris snagged an internship with the agency out of 500+ other applicants in 2004. What set him apart from the other hopefuls? His previous reporting experience and passion for writing. Lincoln currently serves as the writing director at GolinHarris where he helps brands like McDonalds and Corona find their voice and tell meaningful stories across multiple media channels, solely producing written content.

Two years ago GolinHarris was a generalist agency; everyone there knew how to do a little bit of everything. However, after analyzing the PR industry and looking to the future, GolinHarris realized it was too difficult to be good at everything. They needed to adopt a specialist model. The agency changed its structure, placing employees in strictly one discipline of PR. This opportunity paved the way for Lincoln to become a full-time writer.

“Today, integration means specialization. If a client wants expertise in earned, owned and paid media, then agencies need to hire experts in earned, owned and paid media,” said Lincoln.

Lincoln doesn’t foresee his specialization being threatened anytime soon. “As our industry and nearly everything about it has changed over the years, one constant has been the need for great storytelling,” said Lincoln. “I have no idea what communications will look like in 10 years. I have no idea what my job will look like in 10 years. But I have a hunch writing will continue to play an important role in my career.”

The biggest fear that students have when graduating with a specialization is that they’ll miss out on other opportunities. But if you know where your passions and talents lie, why waste your time with anything else? As tedious as the job search may be, when you find a position that aligns with your abilities, you set yourself apart from the other applicants with your expansive experience.

Generalized

Five years ago only a handful of PR agencies were integrating marketing, advertising and digital efforts, and the thought of a news release condensed to 140 characters was absurd. Communications, especially PR, is a rapidly changing industry that will leave you in the dust if you don’t also evolve. By generalizing you’re leaving the door open to other opportunities that may not exist today but will arise in the future.

Aaron Brown graduated from Ohio University generalizing in PR and today works as senior vice president at the integrated agency, Fahlgren Mortine.

“The most successful graduates look at the world through a holistic communications-marketing theory,” advised Brown. “It’s all about diverse experience.” Brown believes that exposing yourself to as many aspects of marketing and communications as possible provides more opportunities as a graduate.

And why wouldn’t it? Someone who can write a killer news release, be in-the-know about the latest social media trend and understand SEO would be more flexible and beneficial for a company than someone who is capable of only one thing.

As an entry-level associate at Fahlgren Mortine, you’re exposed to an endless number of projects and clients. You get to touch a little bit of everything; you could be writing social media for a corporate client, doing media relations for a b2b company and helping build a website for a non-profit organization. The purpose of this organization is that as you grow throughout the years, you get a sense of which clients and projects you excel with. You eventually find a handful of areas at which you are most beneficial and stick with the clients and jobs that best align with your capacities.

However, with generalizing, how much is too much? No graduate will ever go into their first job as an expert in everything. You should have a handful of skills that are your selling points when applying for jobs, but still have an understanding of what else may be required in the position.

While your decision may seem like a ticking time bomb now, you have decades after graduation to figure out if there’s a certain industry or specialization you enjoy. There are professionals who have been in the industry for 30+ years and still explore their options. Don’t feel the need to try and figure it out in four years and always keep an open mind!