PR lessons I’ve learned from driving in downtown Cleveland traffic

By Mira Kuhar

 

keep-calm-while-driving-in-cleveland-trafficAs soon as the clock strikes 5 p.m in downtown Cleveland, professionals of all ages flock to their cars to begin their evening commute. With everyone’s mind set on dinner and for some, their comfy beds, frustration begins to set in when traffic comes to a halt and you’ve moved two blocks in 20 minutes. My internship with PR Newswire has been my first experience with rush hour traffic. I now know that road rage does indeed run in my family (mostly thanks to my father). The first few days I experienced this nightmare that is traffic in downtown Cleveland traffic, I was frustrated, mad, annoyed and all other related emotions. I felt trapped. This is when I realized that there will be some instances in my professional life that are going to feel just like a traffic jam.

There are some situations you just can’t control. Whether you’re in charge of a wide variety of accounts, managing a project team or monitoring a company’s social media platforms, as a PR professional, you’re ultimately in control of a lot of the day-to-day things that happen with a client. However, some of the things that happen with your client are not within your scope of control. Take this week’s TweetDeck hacking for example. Someone hacked into the popular Twitter feed monitoring system and made a montage of odd messages pop up as well as strange retweets occur for many different Twitter accounts. Many high-profile accounts were effected such as @NYTimes and @CBCNews. In this case, the managers of these Twitter feeds didn’t plan for this hack to happen. They had sit back and just wait for it be fixed since it was out of their control. When traffic is backed up for miles with no easy exit, sometimes all you can do is sit and wait it out just like some of TweetDeck’s users had to.

Yelling (and honking) does not make it better. Unpleasant people are just inevitable. When dealing with clients, there will be times when you have to help those who are rude and nasty to you. In these instances, you just have to put on your happy face and calm voice and deal with it. It’s second nature to want to yell and be nasty right back, but when you’re working in customer service, that’s a one way ticket to getting yourself fired. The same goes for rush hour. If yelling could move cars, we would not have solved the traffic congestion problem by now. Because it’s just inevitable, as are nasty people, you just have to put on your happy face and deal with it.

The “easy way out” may turn into a nightmare. Finding the most efficient way to do something, even if it may not be the right way, is human nature. We all want to be successful in as little as time as possible because time is, in fact, money. Taking small short cuts may not seem like a big deal in the moment, but over time they can build up and eventually end up producing a negative result. Editing, curating content and doing design work are just a few examples of things you cannot take short cuts on. Missing a mistake in a press release or posting the wrong link to an article in a Tweet can cost a company their reputation. The end result of these mistakes are not worth taking the short cut; it’s better to do it the right way, even if it may take longer. The same goes for obeying traffic laws. When traffic is backed up, you may be tempted to turn left on red or take a quick U turn. However, taking these short cuts and risking getting pulled over is not worth it. Your bank account (and driving record) will thank you if you just grin and bear the terrible back up of cars.

There are going to be many unfavorable situations you have to deal with throughout your PR career. Instead of looking at these things in a negative way, think of how you can turn it into a positive situation or a learning experience. Find places where you can apply these situations to your career and all other parts of your life and you’ll never see an experience as 100% negative ever again.

 

Connect with Mira on Twitter at @mirakuhar

Surviving the Interview, 101

By Adrienne Gossett

ImageWhether you’re a seasoned pro or a first-time rookie, interviewing can be tricky. Unfortunately, there’s no way of knowing exactly what to expect from an interviewer, but you can always prepare yourself for anything thrown your way.  I’ve been doing interviews for years and thought I’d share some tips and tricks I wish I had known from the beginning:

Nonverbal cues: Many times when prepping for interviews we focus more on what we are planning to say versus planning to do. I know I do not spend time thinking of how I’m going to sit or where I’m going to look during an interview. But, interviewers are watching for those kinds of things. The top most common nonverbal mistakes include making little eye contact, bad posture (so sit up straight!), fidgeting, using too many hand gestures, and lack of a smile.

Minding your P’s and Q’s: The use of proper grammar is not only important while writing, but also while speaking. Your spoken grammar is one the easiest and quickest indicators for an employer to decide your worth. Be aware of how you’re pronouncing words and that you’re using complete sentences.

Do your Research: One major turn off for an employer is when a candidate knows little to nothing about the company. One of the most common questions during an interview is “what do you know about our company?” Having no idea shows the employer that you don’t care and puts your chances of landing the job or internship at risk. Take some time before the interview to research the company. Look into their previous campaigns, their history, the products or services they offer, philanthropic projects and their awards and achievements. Thinking you know something versus actually knowing makes a huge difference.

Ask questions: Don’t be afraid to ask your interviewer questions. An interview should work as a two-way street. The employer uses the interview as a way of determining if you’re the ideal fit for the job. You should use it as a means of assessing how well you would fit in, if you could do your best work within the environment, and how well your goals align with those of your potential employer.

Be yourself: As cliché as it sounds, you won’t do yourself justice by trying to be someone you’re not. It is best to be honest about who you are because it creates a better rapport between you and the employer.

Practice, practice, practice: Practice makes perfect.  It’s always a good idea to practice some typical interview questions before your actual interview. The more familiar you are with the questions, the more relaxed you will be while responding during your interview. However, never go into your interview with memorized responses. You don’t want to sound like a rehearsed robot.

An interview can be the scariest part of the internship process. But it’s only as scary as you make it. Staying calm, cool, and collected is your best bet. Remember, this is the time when it’s okay to brag about yourself; this is your time to shine, don’t let it slip by.

All PR is not created equal: Irish vs. American

By Kelly Hayes

This summer I was afforded the amazing opportunity to intern abroad in Dublin, Ireland in Parliament. It was an amazing experience and I wouldn’t change any of it. After traveling to Vietnam with the Global Leadership Center, I unpacked and repacked my bags within five days and was off to Europe! Even with previous internship experience and two years of ImPRessions and PRSSA, I still didn’t know what to expect. The basics of public relations are the same everywhere, but how things are done and executed differ.

Working in Parliament I thought I would work a lot with social media, press releases and writing. While I didn’t work as much with social media, I did write all the time. Press releases were the norm. Media lists were my constant reference and parliamentary questions were my daily task. These job responsibilities really shed light on a major difference between U.S. public officials and those in Europe: our public officials tweet and use Facebook like no other but those in Europe still rely heavily on traditional media practices.

 I had to create an entire media database including every single newspaper and radio station in the Republic of Ireland. While I did advise certain social media practices, writing press releases/statements and sending them to newspapers and radio stations was my main job. When I was on my way to work every morning I saw many people with newspapers tucked under their arms and countless buses with radio show advertisements on them. In the U.S. we tend to be very social media focused, especially when it comes to politics. European public officials do use Facebook and Twitter but not to the extent where they are constantly tweeting and posting. 

In 2012 the U.S. was reported to have the most Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ users, as well as the largest increase in Instagram usage. While we are able to find Wi-Fi in almost every part of the country, Ireland is still struggling with that concept. I remember my boss repeatedly dealing with just trying to get wireless access to certain places in County Kerry. He didn’t even have Wi-Fi back at home because it wasn’t accessible. 

Shocker, right? Even in Dublin the best Wi-Fi reception was in Starbucks, which never fails to deliver. Overall Europe’s public officials will continue to rely on the newspaper and radio industry to get their message across. And what will our public officials be doing? Tweeting while they are in the chamber (which – in Irish parliament – is NOT advised).

PR vs. Marketing… what’s the difference?

By Jess Carnprobst

This summer I have been interning at Think Communications, Inc., an integrated marketing solutions firm. Their work includes public relations, advertising, marketing and design. Students studying strategic communications in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism sometimes only see the public relations and advertising side of things, so I’ve gained a different perspective at Think Communications, Inc.

Being that this is my first internship, I have never experienced the work environment of an agency that only specializes in public relations or marketing, so feel free to have your own opinion. However, I think it is very beneficial to see marketing and public relations working together. Marketing involves the business of selling products and services whereas public relations is about the representation of a person or company. The success of products and services is essential in making a good image for that person or company. When an agency can control both of these from the same office, it makes matters more simple and successful.

After interning at Think Communications, Inc., it seems natural to do marketing, public relations and advertising all together. I have done work in all three of these areas and therefore have seen and accomplished an assortment of tasks. In turn, this has helped me gain a wide variety of experience. Each day of my internship provides something new and different. Some days I help to plan a big event or send emails and make calls. I have also written press releases and radio spots. On other days, I research information for a company to help with its sales or enhance its website. Sometimes, I provide my opinion on an advertisement or help to come up with creative titles. For only one summer, I’ve done a lot!

Being that I am just going into my sophomore year and still have a lot to learn, it was great to see all of these different skills and practice areas come together. This experience helped to broaden my portfolio and skillset as well as allow me to see non-traditional public relations work.

With that being said, if you are ever given the chance to intern or work at an agency with a wide variety of skills such as marketing and public relations, I highly recommend to grab that offer and learn, learn, learn! I have been given an amazing opportunity to learn more than I ever thought I could in just one summer. Seeing and taking part in marketing and public relations work kept each day new and exciting. I learned something new every single day I was in the office and will take all the new information back to OU with me.

Five fool-proof tips for building a professional portfolio

By Allison Evans

Internships are excellent opportunities to develop your PR skills through hands-on experience. A resume is a written version of your experience, but a professional portfolio is key to visually displaying your accomplishments. This list of five tips will help you get started on your portfolio:

1. Think about the future: The purpose of a portfolio is to have examples of your work to reference in an interview. Think about what an employer would want to see in a portfolio. This will help you choose pieces to save for this purpose. It is easy to forget about the future when you are immersed in the present, but keeping a futuristic mindset will help you remember how to build a portfolio.

2. Save your work: When something you work on is published, save this for your portfolio. Keep a hard copy and an electronic copy for your records. USB drives are excellent tools to use when saving things electronically because they can be updated and are safe from hard drive crashes. For the hard copy versions of your work, keep everything in a folder. This makes it easy to select pieces specific to an interview or application.

3. Quality and Variety: Select your absolute best work for your portfolio. Portfolios are tools designed for an interviewer to judge your capabilities. Display work that you are proud of, and work that pertains to your interview.

It is becoming apparent that young PR professionals are expected to be versatile. Show your versatility through a variety of portfolio pieces reflecting your knowledge of many areas of PR. For example, displaying 10 press releases but no examples of design is not wise, because it fails to show your versatility.

4. Track as you go: Having media impressions to go with your pieces is an asset. This helps your interviewer clearly see the impact that your work had for the person/company. This helps interviewers envision the impact your work will have if they hire you.

5. Professionally display your work: Whether you hand an interviewer an electronic or hard copy of your portfolio, make sure that it is displayed in an organized, professional manner. Putting it together on InDesign shows professionalism for electronic displays. For hard copy portfolios, having a plastic covering or a binder is excellent for showing your work to employers.

Keeping these tips in mind will help you translate your summer internship into something professional and tangible for your interviewer to reference. Finish up those internships strong with a solid portfolio!

15 internship tips & tricks for the summer

By Marisa Dockum

Image

Being an intern can offer a wealth of knowledge and lead to lasting relationships, and if you’re lucky, a future job.  As a trainee at Edelman, with 50 other interns, I have sneaked a few tips and tricks up my sleeve to stay on top of my game and make a lasting impression.

1. Dress appropriately for anything and everything.

In the PR world, your daily tasks change every day and vary drastically. One moment you could be wiping off chairs before a client meeting or packaging and shipping products to bloggers. Then the next minute you’re in a formal brainstorming meeting with client executives. Either way, you must be dressed with the flexibility of doing physical or official activities.

2. Arrive early, stay late.

Coming into the office 30 minutes before expected, and staying until all jobs are complete to expectation, shows that you are dedicated and willing to go the extra mile. This will earn major brownie points.

3. Catch up on the news every morning.

Reading the news and staying up-to-date on the world can help increase your creativity and knowledge about the public relations industry. It will also give you a competitive edge by knowing what client competitors are up to.

4. Do your homework before you start.

You want to walk into the office with a general understanding of what your account has worked on in the past, and what it is currently working on. Trust me, you will be grateful if you’re already caught up on your accounts doings before you are thrown into it and no one has time to thoroughly explain things to you.

5. Gain trust early on.

Do your best on small, early assignments. Once you prove that you produce good work, your supervisor will start giving you the more “fun” projects.  Don’t expect to get free reign right off the bat. Trust must be earned.

6. Ask for feedback.

The best way to learn and grow is from feedback. Always ask how you did, and what you can do to improve.

7. Learn from your co-workers’ mistakes.

It’s OK to make mistakes, everyone does. But, if you can learn from other’s mistakes it will save YOU from unwanted embarrassment and anxiety.

8. Mirror your supervisor’s actions.

To get into the groove of your company culture, mirror how your supervisor writes emails, talks on the phone and interacts with other employees. Remember to still be yourself!

 9. Don’t present the problem, present the solution.

If you encounter a problem, tell your supervisor only after you come up with the solution.  You can say, “Hey, this happened but here is how we can fix it.” This will take a load of their shoulders while making you look good.

10. Set personal goals and share them with your supervisor.

You get out what you put in. If you know what you want to come out of your experience, write them down and communicate them to the people around you. Both sides will work toward your goals and you’ll be satisfied when your objectives are completed on time. 

11. Keep track of all you do.

It’s important to archive all your work for personal reference and future interviews. Save and compile your work so you have a clear understanding of your contributions and hard work.

12. Network.

A plethora of talented professionals are right at your fingertips within the agency or company you are interning for. The more people you meet for coffee, the better. You are there to learn from them, so do it! 

13. Always smile, never whine.

Attitude is everything, and it separates the weak from the strong.  Conquer every task with a positive attitude, no matter how frustrated you may be on the inside.

14. Carry a notepad with you at all times.

You could be walking back from the bathroom, and an AE could walk by and rattle of an assignment to you. You’ll want a notepad handy to write down all the details.

15. Bring snacks and thank you cards on your last day.

Who doesn’t love yummy snacks and thank you cards? Showing your gratitude and appreciation will leave a lasting impression, and will be remembered if you reapply for a full-time position in the future. 

In need of an internship? Consider Current!

By Ashleigh Mavros

Current is a consumer public relations agency based in New York City and is looking for a PR intern for fall 2013. Heather Bartman, former CEO of ImPRessions and recent Ohio University graduate, interned with Current summer 2012. Details of the internship are included below. Please contact Heather Bartman if interested at heatherbartman@gmail.com.

Current:

We are looking for enthusiastic, self-starters who are good multi-taskers and are organized. It is a very hands-on role where you will be integral to the team and be given the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of PR. Core tasks include writing, researching, event planning, compiling media lists, pitching client stories to media, and participating in creative brainstorms.

The internship is 3-6 months, paid at $12.00/hour and candidates must be available to work Monday – Friday 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. College students and recent graduates are welcome to apply. Ideal start date is August 15th (however, this is flexible).