"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.
"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!
When I first read the conversation between James Franco and Scottish Instagramer "begs31Mar14", I wasn't as surprised as I should have been. Celebrities do stupid things all the time. After more research, people started questioning if this was all an elaborate hoax for Franco's new film "Palo Alto." While it might be, there is one thing I can say with certainty...
Hoax, maybe. Public Relations Stunt? Not even close.
1) Targeting Audiences
The new film is directed by Gia Coppola, it is the centerpiece film of the 57th San Francisco International Film Festival. Is the target audience really Imgur users (where the Instagram pictures first appeared)? Doubt it.
Targeting incorrect, random, mass audiences is not PR.
2) Irrelevant, Confusing Messages
I’ll admit, the photos made me watch the film's trailer (which released on the same day as the conversations). From what I have gathered, it focuses on adolescent chaos. The relationship between teacher (Franco) and student (Roberts) seems to be a sub plot line anyways. So, aside from statutory rape, what is the common thread between a creepy older celebrity hitting on a 17 year-old Scottish girl on Instagram, sending awkward selfies as proof and asking if he can rent a room for her and the serious, deep, chilling character Franco seems to play in the film? Nothing.
Constructing confusing, irrelevant, messages is not PR.
What is the strategy here? This is definitely an “any publicity is good publicity” moment. How does this tell a story about the film? How does this build the credibility and reputation of the actor, or the movie? It doesn’t.
Public relations is about strategic messages and strategic relationships. Nothing is random.
Public Relations is about strategy, it isn’t about generating irrelevant coverage.
We don’t believe that “all press is good press”.
We are reputation builders, storytellers, truth seekers.
Calling Franco’s creepy stunt “public relations” is a disservice to all those great public relations campaigns out there.
In public relations, a white paper explains an organization's position on an issue. These are my opinions.
As PR practitioners, we spend a lot of time answering questions and preparing our principals for interviews. Last week, I had the opportunity to be on the other side. I spoke to a prominent actress, author and director for a story I’m putting together. To say I was nervous would be an understatement. But, I learned a few tricks along the way
This is obvious, but I mean dig deep. Listen to interviews, watch segments, read anything and everything. Further, write everything down. I had the subject ask where I had read something and I couldn’t answer. I should have kept the articles with me.
After getting the approval from your subject, record it twice. My interview was over Skype, and I recorded it on my cellphone and my iPad. I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss anything. I typed out some of the answers, but I realized later I missed a few good quotes. I would have lost those if I hadn’t recorded it.
3) Ask for Confirmation
Make sure you check all your facts. Even the simple things like tour dates and graduation years. Not only will you have all the correct information, but you will show the subject that you’ve done your research. Further, these simple questions will help you build rapport.
4) Ask Why
The best way to build a conversation is to ask why. I wrote up a list of questions, but I had to keep reminding myself to follow up. You want the interview to be a conversation and not an interrogation.
Not a sentence I thought I'd be typing. If you're looking for an example of a PR disaster, look no further than Toronto's mayor. From homophobic slurs and crack use, threats and drunken stupors, Rob Ford has garnered worldwide attention. Political beliefs aside, Rob Ford finally got it right during his Jimmy Kimmel interview. What more could a PR girl ask for?
1) Develop Key Talking Points
When you're preparing for any interview, understand your goals. What message do you want to get across? Develop a few key talking points and stick to them. They will be your guide throughout the whole interview.
Rob Ford's talking points were clear: he saved the tax payers money, Toronto is booming, he works hard, and he's running for mayor next term.
2) Blocking and Bridging
Journalists and reporters can ask you anything they want during an interview. In the same notion, you can respond any way you want. Keep control and composure - you don't have to answer every question. Instead, block an unwanted question and bridge it back to friendly territory.
When Kimmel reads out harsh criticisms, Ford makes a joke before bringing the conversation back to where he wants it. "Is that all they said?" he asks, "I guess they don't talk about the money I've saved them, that I've cleaned up the city."
When Kimmel brings up his many blunders and apologies, Ford, once again, blocks and bridges the conversation back to his talking points.
3) Speak in Positives
Journalists and reporters can take quotes out of context. Don't give them that opportunity. Only speak in positives when answering questions.
For the most part, Ford leaves sarcasm out of his answers, talking about the great, beautiful, booming city of Toronto.
4) Facts Facts Facts
Using facts goes back to the goal of the interview. Here, Ford gives numbers when he says he has saved the city money. He also gives third party endorsers who can support his messages.
5) Speak in Headlines
Don't say anything you wouldn't want in the newspaper. When responding to questions, think of potential quotes and headlines.
"I'm a businessman Jimmy. I run it like a business"
"People will judge me on my proven track record"
"Call Rob Ford and I guarantee I'll return your call"
All good, quotable answers.
Answer every question then add one of your messages. Repeating your talking points increases the chance that the journalist or reporter will pick it up. Every question Ford answered, he reminded the audience about one of his key messages.
7) Absent Party Ploy
FleishmanHillard talks about the absent party ploy. Here, a reporter will try to create controversy by getting you to negatively comment on another party. The most important lesson is not to question their character. Ford tried hard to do this, though he did slip up when discussing "political games". He saved himself by bringing the conversation back to tax payer's money.
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.