The new year doesn't officially start until I publish a "New Year, Big Changes" post, right? If so, I now officially welcome 2015!
It's day four, and so far -- I'm in love. Who knew huge Eastern-facing windows filing my bedroom with sunshine and an oval, stand-alone tub would be my kryptonite. My next conundrum? How to fit my whole life into two closets.
This month I received the #VowVoxBox from Influenster. It came packed with a few different products, including EcoTools' Pure Complexion Facial Sponge. After using it for a few days, I have put together a quick review for you.
The EcoTools Pure Complexion Sponge is handmade with 100% natural ingredients. I use a few other EcoTools products, including their makeup brushes. Their commitment to natural products is something that continues to draw me back. The sponge contains Konjac vegetable fibre, which, according to the EcoTools' website, is "traditionally used as a detoxifying dietary staple and as a naturally exfoliating sponge for delicate skin by the Japanese." I can't attest to this, but it sounds good enough - especially considering my skin's texture. I have relatively good skin, but I do have a problem with black heads on my chin and my nose. Apparently, the unique shape helps remove makeup with ease.
I've only be using the sponge for a few days, so I can't say I've seen any long term effects. I was initially intrigued by the hard shell and the way it instantly softens when wet. Clearly small things amuse me. The instructions advise using a mild face wash, so I've been sticking to a foaming one with no exfoliating power.
Pro: My face doesn't feel completely clean unless I've exfoliated it. The sponge's texture adds exfoliating power to a mild face wash without irritating my skin.
1) It's a sponge. For anyone who doesn't know what I mean by that - try squeezing your dish sponge ever so slightly. You'll soon see that water is everywhere. When it comes time to rinse, I end up with water and face wash all over my face, arms and counter.
2) The sponge's shape is supposed to help remove makeup - it also makes it difficult to store. It is soaking wet, so I don't want to put it in my cupboard. Instead, it sits on the side of my sink seeping wet until I use it next.
The EcoTools' Pure Complexion Sponge costs $5.99. I will continue to use it and look out for any long-term improvements in my skin, but would I go out and purchase this? No - I'll stick to my using my trusty fingers for face washing.
I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.
"If you look at the most successful agencies out there, no question, they all have a defined culture"
- Sally Jones
There are few situations more intimidating than walking into an agency as an intern, especially when it's an agency you have hoped to work for since the moment you decided on PR. Whether an employee or an intern, you want to stand out. However, you want to stand out for your work ethic, your personality and your creations - not because you simply cannot understand how to mesh with the people around you.
The more I worked, immersed myself in new accounts and spoke to a few more employees, the importance of internal culture really struck me - it's the hidden key to success. Internal culture dictates:
1) What you wear
We're taught to dress for the job we want. While under dressing is never a good idea, over dressing is rarely one either. Facing a dressed down supervisor, mentor or agency executive in your red carpet attire makes for an uncomfortable situation. As interns, we should always aim to look more professional than expected - but take cues from the employees around you.
2) When to arrive
As somebody who prides themselves on never being late, EVER, this is hard to admit. While tardiness is frustrating, being too prompt can be just as aggravating. Showing up five minutes before a meeting may mean your supervisor has to rush to finish what they were doing, or make you hover in the door way until they're ready - neither are fun situations to be in. Keep your eyes open and if you notice people heading somewhere only a minute or two before a meeting, you should do the same.
3) What they're talking about
To some, a powerpoint presentation isn't a powerpoint presentation - it's a deck. To others, writing an email isn't writing an email - it's sending coms. A partner could be an internal partner, an employee, or an external 501C3 organization depending on who you ask. Agencies and teams ave their own unique jargon, things that they rarely notice. The only way you'll understand it is through listening.
If everyone in my PR program doesn't already hate me (because of this post), they probably will after this. Today is when I admit, to everyone, that I adored my Communications Research course. The 173 page research project ruined my life at the time, but I'm incredibly thankful I experienced it. Why?
1) It taught me the jargon
Let's face it, before my class "the sampling error (95% confidence interval) was ±1.99%, inferring a similar response in 97-100% of the general population" meant nothing to me. When I was given material pertinent to the accounts I'm on, I was able to understand the results of the research study - without having to skip directly to the discussion.
2) It taught me to question statistics
Colgate's "80% of Dentists Recommend Colgate" is one of my favorite examples of misleading statistics. A lot of things should be considered before believing a statistic. Validity, reliability, sample size, sample error, survey development, demographics, intervening variables and more.
"There are three kinds of lies -- lies, damned lies, and statistics" - Benjamin Disraeli.
3) It taught me where and how to research
The research process for an essay and a research assignment aren't always the same. Reading other people's research is often enough to develop and support a thesis for a shorter academic essay. However, at times, the information you need for a research assignment hasn't been developed yet. Instead, you have to develop and explain assumptions, make connections and get creative with your research.
4) It's what people want
PR is all about the research. We can't make decisions if we have no information to back it up. I reviewed research, conducted research, and had a client ask for a research study within my first week (aka, two working days). You need to be able to give the people what they want.
I flew into Toronto last weekend for the sole purpose of shopping for bridesmaids dresses. If that doesn't make me one of the best MOHs out there, I don't know what will.
I planned to be there for moral support only. I have the luxury of standing next to five other bridesmaids, all beautiful (and thin, I might add), so my confidence level was at an all time low. I have a very different body type, so I knew it would be impossible that we all felt comfortable in the same style of dress. Yet, we did, and I learned a few things along the way.
1) Undergarments Are Important
Just like our momma's taught us. Wearing proper undergarments are important for two reasons. First, you want to see the real dress. Having a supportive bra with removable straps and underwear to slim you is integral.
But, there is a less obvious reason. Many of the dresses we tried didn't zip up. Either they didn't fit properly, or the zippers had been used so often that they were breaking. Our area was in front of a window, so luckily I was wearing suitable undergarments or the entire street would have been in for a show.
2) You'll be Distracted by Color
Talk about a generalization. Maybe you won't, but I was. No matter how beautiful the gown, it's hard to look beyond an ugly color, so be prepared for that.
3) You'll be Modeling for Everyone - and They will be, too.
We only went to Ritche, so I can't speak to every other experience. While we were there, whenever someone tried on a dress, everyone else would peek and determine if they wanted it next. We were swapping with strangers and calling dibs on dresses all day.
4) You Really have Nothing to Worry About
My biggest fear was standing aside as all of the bridesmaids stepped into the size two sample dresses. Boy, was I wrong. I didn't see a dress smaller than a size 10. Instead, the sample dresses are bigger so they can be clasped to size. Turns out, I was actually the PERFECT model because I filled the larger sizes out better. Bring on the chocolate.
5) It's all About the Bride
I mean this literally and figuratively. First, it's literally all about the bride. It's her day and it's her vision. If it's not the dress you would have chosen, tough.
Second, it's all about the bride. Your experience will depend on her. I, luckily, have the most gracious, kind sister ever. She understood my concerns about my body, and though I told her I would wear anything she put on me, she ensured we were all as comfortable and confident as possible. Jenn gave us all an opinion in the dress, and made sure the one we chose suited all of us.
To ensure full disclosure, know this - I detest shopping. It stems from a mixture of being lazy, being poor and having a completely disproportionate body. Last weekend, I was pleasantly surprised.
"Why did you do 4 years in Comm?"
"Why did you go to graduate school?"
"Don't you just want to start your career?"
My response: Why do I have to choose between being a student or being a professional? Can't I do both?
Well, we can. We can take our education beyond the classroom. On that note...
My name is Laura Hong and I received my undergraduate degree in English Literature from the University of California, Irvine in 2010. I graduated this May from the University of the Pacific with an M.A. in Communications and a concentration in Media and Public Relations. However, I’m still completing my thesis through the summer. I’m also a staff writer for the pop culture website CC2KOnline, and a web editor for the online literary journal, Blue Lyra Review.
Why Graduate School and why Public Relations specifically?
I took a year off from academia after UC Irvine with the goal of finding a job so it would shine more light on whether I wanted to continue onto graduate school. I struggled with unemployment for a while until a friend got me in touch with the startup, Readyforce. Working on their operations team, I became fascinated by the tiers of communication taking place within the company, and decided to study communication. I stumbled onto PR while researching communication programs and found it to be the perfect fit. PR was versatile, encompassing the skills I possessed or wished to expand on such as writing, analyzing, being creative, having an eye for detail, and building connections.
What is writing a thesis like? Do you have any suggestions for current and future students?
Choose a topic you are personally interested in, rather than a topic to impress. You will be working on your thesis for months, maybe even a year or more. That means constantly writing / editing / researching / revising, having ongoing discussions with your chairperson, and dreaming about the same topic for days on end. I may get tired of my thesis at times, but at the end of the day I’m still excited as ever. Also make yourself liable by having your chairperson give you rough deadlines if you need the extra push.
What advice do you have for students wanting to improve their writing and get published?
It’s been said many times, but start a blog and have an online presence. Your blog can be about anything as long as you enjoy it. When I was unemployed, I started a blog where I reviewed novels and comic books to experiment with my writing. I included my blog link on my Twitter profile. By chance, the comic editor for CC2KOnline stumbled on my blog and asked me to write for the site, which became a starting point for my writing portfolio. This portfolio helped me land my social media internship at SmartRecruiters, which had a company blog of their own that I contributed to. SmartRecruiters also had a list of contacts for me to guest blog for, such as Virtrue. My blog, in combination with my online presence, became a domino effect for improvement, exposure, and success.
Do you have any suggestions for young professionals trying to get noticed by employers?
Be proficient on at least one form of social media. We live in an age where technology provides us the opportunity to be more creative and stand out. My workshop at the “Not Your Usual Career Fair” was about having employers seek you out first rather than the other way around. To do this, cater your choice of technology or social media to your desired job industry. From there, engage your community by talking to people with similar interests and joining industry groups on a site like LinkedIn. You would be surprised at how many people will reach out to you about opportunities without you even asking. In addition, build a genuine personal brand online. You don’t need to always showcase your PR side. Be yourself!
How do you think your life and future career would be different if you chose not to attend graduate school?
I would most likely still be clueless about my career path and not as happy as I am today. Graduate school opened my eyes to a field of communication and public relations that I would have never envisioned on my own. I was fortunate to have learned from wonderful professors and peers that came from diverse academic and professional backgrounds. They gave me the confidence and push needed to succeed.
Do you have suggestions for students currently deciding on graduate school?
Don’t go to graduate school because everyone else is doing it. Get an internship or work experience to provide you a perspective on what it’s like to be out in the working world. You’ll discover your likes and dislikes, as well as your strengths and weaknesses, which will help you cater your career choice. If your internship or job leads you to a career you love, great! If not, it can point you to a field you may have never thought of before to study and expand on in graduate school.
Graduate school isn't for everyone. Neither is a four year undergraduate program. Many outstanding programs exist to get you in and out in two years or less. In communications especially, a field that doesn't necessarily require certification, people wonder why I've stayed in school. ComBeyond honors people working hard to balance being a student and a professional.
Ten days, 15 events. Eventbrite spent the month of May inspiring and connecting Boston through various pop-up events. Yesterday, I was lucky enough to attend "Stand out from the Crowd and Land your Dream Job," hosted by Adjunct Professor and Senior Marketing Manager Sara Steele-Rogers. Plus, I left with a box of pizza.... so there's that. So, what did I learn besides how delicious Viga pizza is?
1) Resume Tips
2) Personal Brand
4) Be Accessible
They say brochures are a dying medium. Everything is virtual as everyone is environmentally conscious. But, a well-designed brochure is still a useful piece of promotional material and an integral step in communicating with your audience. Brochure design is more than just color and copy. Keep these tips in mind when you’re designing your next brochure.
How are you going to make this brochure valuable? How are you going to make it an experience for the viewer? How can you make this brochure something of worth and importance, something they’ll hang out to?
How are you going to fold your brochure? You can do the simple accordion fold, but why not step it up a notch? There are many unique fold types that can help create an experience. Take a look at 18 creative brochure designs here, search online or play around with your own paper.
3) Paper Thickness:
Plan the paper thickness in advance, as it will change how easily the brochure folds, how thick the fold lines will be, and the accurate size of each panel. Grab a sheet of the paper and fold it to get the exact measurements.
4) Know your Printer:
Similar to knowing the type of paper you’re going to use, decide in advance where you’re going to print your brochure. Figure out the type of ink they use to determine how to get the most cost effective design.
5) Keep it laid out:
Keep your rough draft close by so you can keep referencing it. Also, it helps to label each panel within your program so you remember which panel is which.
Bleeds allow a design to extend past the page dimensions. This way, when it is printed out, the image will go all the way to the edge of the page instead of leaving a small white border
7) Paragraph / Body Text Layout:
“Never sacrifice legibility for design”
Orphans: Those occur when you leave one word on its own line.
Rivers: Rivers occur when you justify your text and the program alters the word spacing for you. If your words are too spaced out you get the presence of what resembles a river or stream between lines. You don’t want this.
Bullet Points: Brochures are common for bulleted information instead of full paragraphs. When utilizing bullet points for sentence that spans more than one line, make sure your text lines up with your text instead of your bullet. This helps to create balance.
Back in January I wrote about my first public relations interview ever. Here, I answered questions about my definition of success, favorite types of manager and the best book I've read recently. Since then, I've gone on a few more interviews and thought it best to add to my question compilation.
1. What is your favorite...
I've had a few variations of this question. My favorite brand, my favorite CSR campaign, my favorite content curator.
2. What changes would you make to our current Social Media?
Most organizations had advanced social media plans. I suggested more photos, involvement and creation of social media chats, and more hashtags.
3. What is your blogging style?
Professional with personality. I think all blogs need a unique voice. Mine happens to be sassy (or sarcastic).
4. What is the most important part of online communication?
Visuals. If Twitter has taught us anything with new image capabilities, everyone loves a good visual.
5. How do you manage your time?
This one was easy, because I'm a list addict.
6. How do you keep up to date with the public relations industry?
PRSA, The Strategist, Blogs, Guest Lecturers, etc.
7. What do you expect to get out of this internship?
I want to gain experience, I want to learn, and I want to figure out exactly what I want to do in my career.
8. What are some things you would not do?
I'll do anything of value. I don't believe in things like running to get coffee.
It’s crazy to think the single Introduction to Filmmaking course I took during my undergrad did not turn me into a pro filmmaker. Luckily, I work alongside a talented Film and TV student at my internship, so I had the opportunity to get involved in a film development project. Film isn't something you can learn in a few days, but I did pick up a few tips.
1) Question preparation
Having your questions prepared in advance is important for two reasons. One, so you can prepare the participant. Two, so you can get participants. One of the first questions many people asked was what questions they would have to answer.
2) Decide the visuals in advance
This includes the background, the camera placement, the crop and zoom, and where the participant is going to look during the interview. Changing the background was integral for our video, but having people looking in different directions and filmed at different angles was extremely distracting.
3) Think in sound bites
For our video in particular, we had students discussing different experiences. You don't realize until you're in the editing room the amount of repetition and fluff that can be cut out. Thus, listen to their answers and choose a single, quotable line. Get them to repeat that at the end for easier editing.
4) Record 30 seconds of silence
It may sound silent, but your audio system will pick up various noises. During editing, you can use this recording to make the segments more consistent. This is especially important when you're filming on different days and at different times.
5) Prepare for few different videos
You may realize half way through the process that what you had in mind isn't working. To save yourself from backtracking or losing a lot of content, gather footage and ask questions that will allow you to create a few different videos. Thus, if something doesn't work, you have backup.
Enjoy my adventures? Don't forget to follow me on Feedly!
A Boston girl via Toronto. University of Toronto, Sheridan College, and Boston University alumna. Passionate about ending domestic violence. Hoping to never go a day without carbs or chocolate.