On My Way

Last Friday I had my final portfolio review for my public relations sequence at the University of Oregon, meaning that I am finally done with all the hard work I’ve put in over the last 4 years. While I’m grateful to be graduating early, finally being done with the journalism school is bittersweet. I know I’m ready to enter the work place, but I have learned so much there over these past years its crazy that its all over!

Heading into my portfolio review I was nervous. I’d put so much work into getting my layouts exactly right that I was afraid I was going to over think everything. Luckily, I was able to take a deep breath, relax, and present my material to my review board. (It helped that they were a great group of people just wanting to help me get better).

After presenting they gave me some great feedback, and to be able to remember it always, I thought I’d share the big points they made with you:

1. Make sure you tell a story: When you’re going in to explain your work its important to let them know the history behind it. What was the problem? How did you address it? What were your strategies? Did it work? Were you successful? Going back, what would you have done differently? By explaining the details behind why you did what you did, your interviewer or reviewer is able to understand precisely what you did. My reviewers also liked the info cards I had for each layout explaining what the goal was and what the results were. They encouraged me to change it up a bit and instead include a section like this and tailor it to each layout:Screen shot 2013-03-15 at 7.57.34 PM

2. Put your most important information first: This means not only in the material you include but also on your resume. Put your best work at the top. My reviewers encouraged me to move my skills section to the top, especially since I specialize in combining of traditional and new media as well as design work. By moving this stuff to the top it is the first thing your reviewer/interviewer sees and so they’ll be more apt to understand that you used these skills to create and present everything in your portfolio.

3. Have a color scheme: My reviewers were very impressed by my layout, especially in the fact that I had a different color that went with each internship and coursework that I included. I had a red banner for all my HIV Alliance work, a blue banner for the blogging I do for Moxie, a wedding planning company in Eugene, a pink banner for the articles I write for Her Campus Magazine, and a purple banner for the group work I just completed for Phelps Creek Vineyards. They said that this not only made my portfolio stand out, but also let them know when the work was transitioning from company to company.

4. Make sure your personality shines through: One thing I’ve never been afraid of is to be myself. My reviewers were impressed by my confidence and ability to show myself through my work while still remaining professional. I think its important to never try and hide a part of your personality as long as you can remain poised and professional. If you smile a lot, keep smiling during your review. If you like to make jokes, don’t be afraid to throw one in there as long as its appropriate for the audience and content. The most important thing is to feel out your reviewer/interviewer, and from there you’ll know exactly what to do.

5. Add a personal interest section to your resume: This one through me for a loop at first. A personal interest section? You really want to know that I enjoy tennis and traveling? Apparently they do. It allows them to see a quick glimpse of who you are through the extra activities you enjoy. One of my reviewers even told me that they hired 6 interns over the past year because each of them had an interest in lacrosse. While the skill set was obviously there as well, their interest in the sport was not only something they had in common, but also was able to show that they had drive, teamwork, and the capability to balance multiple tasks at once.

UO-signThe reviewing process may seem nerve racking, but after it was over I was truly grateful for the experience. I was able to receive positive feedback from working professionals as well as constructive criticism. I plan on taking all the information and feedback they gave me, creating a better portfolio, and heading out into the real world a confident, successful graduate.

Thank you J-School for all you taught me. I think I’m finally ready!

Getting Creative

Infographics are proving to me more of an effective way to get information across everyday. By using images to enhance facts, you are able to draw readers in while still relaying important information.

Here is an infographic I made about the importance of donating blood and how much of an impact you can have.

My Infographic redo

 

Building Relationships Through a Diversity-Friendly Workplace

In today’s workplace it is becoming more important to understand how to effectively communicate with a diverse audience. Whether with your employees, clients or customers, establishing a diversity-friendly environment will be to everyone’s advantage.

Public relations professionals work with people around the world and interact with multiple diverse groups. In an article, Robert Wakefield says that PR professionals work across different social, economic and political systems through multiple time zones, and because of this, public relations is one of the most diverse fields to work in. Understanding how to efficiently create a diversity-friendly workplace will foster a better relationship with all your publics.

Respect everyone’s opinion

In a journal article, Celso Guzman says that being diversity-friendly means that you value everyone’s contributions no matter his or her race, ethnic background, age, gender or physical ability. Being able to appreciate everyone’s opinion on different matters not only allows for an agreeable workplace but also means you’ll have differing views on your projects. People from diverse backgrounds have different ways of addressing problems and assignments, and because of that, they might come up with ideas you never would have thought of.

Show your support for diverse groups

Many companies take the opportunity to partner with diversity outreach groups to show their support. Big name companies like Kraft Foods, American Apparel and Starbucks have all shown support in the past for diverse groups. PRSA has been doing diversity outreach for over two decades and even has a multicultural communications committee. Chrysler Group was named the “Best Company for Diversity” in 2011. These companies and groups understood the importance and saw the chance to show their commitment for diversity in the workplace. By showing support of different diverse groups, your company not only gives its respect but also creates a better workplace for all.

Understand people’s backgrounds

The United States is becoming more diverse as a country every year. The 2008 United States census projected the population to be made up of 54 percent minority groups by 2050. With a growing minority population and different diversity groups becoming more prominent every year, it is critical for companies to understand their employees and their customers’ cultures and backgrounds. With a growing diverse population, you never want to cause a problem by not knowing what is accepted and what is a limit to someone.

Fostering a sense of community within your company is as simple as showing your support of people’s backgrounds and differences. Having a diverse group of people is what makes companies and groups stand out, allowing them to grow and evolve with the changing times.

Social Media: A Game Changer for Public Relations

Social media is becoming a bigger part of our world every day. From daily communication to large company promotion, social media is an ever-changing medium that most people rely on for information. To learn more about how public relations practitioners and companies are dealing with the impact that social media is making, I read an academic journal article this week for my public relations class. I chose the following article:

DiStaso, M., McCorkindale, T., & Wright, D.K., (2011). How public relations executives perceive and measure the impact of social media in their organizations. Public Relations Review, 37(3), 235-328.

For the article, 25 interviews were held with public relations executives about the challenges and questions they face in the social media world. The public relations executives were also asked questions about the opportunities they saw in social media for their companies.

The group being interviewed included 12 members of the Board of Trustees and four current participants in the Future Leaders Program of the Arthur W. Page Society and nine members of the Board of the Institute of Public Relations – many of whom held positions with Fortune 500 companies.

The public relations executives were asked questions ranging from what opportunities they saw in social media for their companies.

Results

You must communicate effectively with your stakeholders, and to do this you have to go where they are. This is why it is important for companies to be involved in the communications happening about them in social media.

The most common challenge is understanding and accepting the lack of control in social media. People are unpredictable beings, and because of that, companies have to be aware of both internal and external threats dealing with social media.

Understanding how to properly use social media is imperative. To be able to use social  media strategically, those in charge must understand how to effectively communicate using different channels.

Staying up to date with the ever-changing platform that is social media is difficult. Older employees were less familiar with the medium, and many teams had to be taught on the go while social media evolves.

How public relations professionals are going to deal with the findings will change from company to company. Many will be concerned with how to train their staff, and others will want to properly invest time and money into resources for social media. As a whole, they all felt that it was essential to uncover and understand how to measure their successes on social media. To do this, they have to recognize what is actually substantial rather than reacting to everything that is put online.

From the study it can be determined that the public relations executives are aware of how important social media is going to be to the success of their companies. By using social media, organizations can engage with their customers and increase the understanding of both their market and their competitors.

Things You Need to Know to Succeed in The Public Relations World

Immersing yourself in public relations can come as a shock. When in classes, we have ideas thrown at us left and right. We examine past PR cases; observe what went wrong and praise what went right; and study, highlight and compile lists of what you would have done if you were in the PR practioner’s shoes. All this practice that we are doing now is preparing us for success in the future.

Thanks to an informational interview with Lee Weinstein, owner of Weinstein PR in Portland, Ore., here is a list of what I felt he conveyed as some of the most important things a student could know when trying to start a career in public relations.

Learn to write.

“Writing well is the most important skill anyone in PR could have. It helps develop great stories. It helps strategize,” says Lee Weinstein. Writing is something we practice over and over in school, and it’s for a reason. Being able to not only write well but also write in correct grammar and format is something that is going to save you down the line.

Always be ready to handle anything.

There is no “typical day” in public relations. You never know what is going to happen because you can’t control how people are going to react to situations. This is why doing your research and preparing yourself and your team for any obstacle is necessary.

Learn early how to time manage.

A working day in public relations can last 24 hours, but those 24 hours will seem a lot shorter when you have 50 things on your plate. You have to manage clients, bosses, otheremployees and whatever projects you are working on at the moment, so learn how to juggle multiple things at once on a time limit.

“The most challenging part about [public relations] is not having enough time and taking on too much work,” says Lee Weinstein.

Love what you do.

This is going to be your career – what you are going to be doing for the rest of your life. If you wake up one day and look in the mirror and you aren’t happy, then make some changes. This can mean anything from taking on different projects to switching from a nonprofit to an agency, to even a completely different path. But whatever you are going to be doing, make sure you love it.

Having a successful career is something everyone strives for, so remembering some tips from the pros should help along the way.

Special thanks to Lee Weinstein.

Where will the world take me?

The idea of only having nine months of school left before jumping into the real world excites me. What am I going to do after graduation? Where am I going to work? What kind of PR job am I going to be looking for? Agency? Corporation? My list of questions goes on and on.

 

While I have always had a general idea of what I want to do with my life, the fact that I am only 21 years old means that its okay that I’m still exploring my options. College is a time for learning and questioning and changing and trying to figure out exactly what it is that you excel at, need more help with, and need to familiarize yourself with more. Through this blog I hope to become more familiar with the public relations world, as well as answer a lot of the questions I have about my future in PR.

 

Grace Hopper said, “A ship in port is safe, but that’s not what ships are for.” Looking forward at the year to come, this is going to be a quote that I will need to live by.  I can’t be afraid to take chances and see what is out there for me in the real world. I’m looking forward to finding that place you know you want to be after graduation.