By Caitlin Gailey, Director of Staff Relations

In the public relations industry, who you know is sometimes just as important as what you know.  Throughout the course of our careers, we are fortunate enough to meet dozens of talented people in our industry. These incredible opportunities are something to take advantage of, not to waste. While networking can feel awkward at times it’s never as bad as you think! Here are a few things to remember when networking your way to the top:

LinkedIn Is Your Friend

Don’t overthink things and grow your network through LinkedIn. After meeting with someone at a company event or through a mutual friend, a great and professional way to keep in touch is through LinkedIn. Asking to connect with someone is always more intimidating than it seems, but it’s a great tool to utilize in your networking toolbox.  

Master The Email

Mastering emails is crucial to building your network during and after college. Whether you are updating a previous employer, introducing yourself to a potential one or thanking someone for your time, email is the way to go. It’s a short 15 minutes out of your day, but it can mean a lot to someone who wasn’t expecting it.

Everyone Wants You To Succeed

The best thing to remember when walking into a networking opportunity is that everyone wants you to succeed. Whether you are meeting someone for the first time or reconnecting those in the public relations industry want to share their knowledge with you and see you put it into practice. Their kindness is your key to success and something that you should never be intimidated by. When you walk into a room realizing everyone wants you to do well, it makes introducing yourself to strangers a lot easier.

Branch Out

Networking with people outside of your inner bubble is a great way to make unexpected connections and experiences. Reaching out to those outside of your internship department or team is a fantastic way to expand your skill set and take advantage of unique opportunities others may never have.

If you have learned nothing new about networking at least think about this. Remember back to your first day of college freshman year. Moving into a new building, a new town, potentially a new state was intimidating. However you put your best foot forward, put yourself out there and made an entirely new life for yourself in just four short years. If you can do that, you can do anything, so get out there and network.  

Advertisements

Your First Job Isn’t Your Forever Job

By: Lauren Haag, Account Executive for What’sPoppin

blogimage

When I was growing up, I used to dream about working for a Fortune 500 company one day. Don’t get me wrong, that is still my ultimate goal. However, I have come to the realization that it may be a longer process than I had originally planned and that is okay.

Now that I am a senior in college, the pressure to graduate with an impressive job and move away from home into a beautiful city is very overwhelming. With each passing day I see more and more of my friends and peers posting about their exciting new job opportunity.

If you are in the same situation that I am, you can understand the pain. Trying to balance academics, school commitments, internships, social life, AND apply for jobs is exhausting. However, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t get discouraged because looking for a job is like a full-time job. Graduating without a job is not the end of the world, and in hindsight it may even allow you to find a better opportunity down the road.

We also have been guilty of sending out resumes and cover letters as quickly as possible, with the hope that this may help us to beat out the competition, but it won’t. Your resume will be sent to an automated system that will filter you out depending if you meet the qualifications or not. So where do you go from here? The answer is networking.

The only way to ensure that your resume is personally received is if you have a contact within the company. Take the time to seriously network with professionals and get a better understanding on their job responsibilities. This may require more work, but the end result will be worth it.

I understand having a job secured after college is very crucial for some. However, it doesn’t need to be the “perfect” job. Don’t be afraid to apply for a lower paying job or even a post-graduation internship. Nowadays, internships are the gateway into many corporate companies.

If your favorite company never calls you for an interview and if your first job isn’t what you envisioned–don’t get discouraged. Your first job is not forever. It is just a stepping stone in acquiring that dream position you always wanted.

April The Giraffe, A Public Relations Gold Mine

By: Caitlin Gailey, Account Executive for First Pick

unnamed

Image Credit: Inquisitr

If you haven’t heard about April the giraffe, you must be living under a rock. The 15-year old giraffe resides at the Animal Adventure Park in New York and is currently the subject of the biggest baby watch of 2017. April is 16 months pregnant with her fourth calf and is projected to give birth any day now.

Now, this miracle of life isn’t what makes April so special, but rather the immense following she has acquired. She has taken news outlets by storm, providing Animal Adventure Park with an unexpected and impressive amount of media attention. Her fame has caused the park staff to create http://www.aprilthegiraffe.com, which includes a live webcam to track April’s progress 24/7. Her popularity has gone global and her passionate followers have formed their own deeply invested community.

April is almost two months past her due date, which has added to the suspense surrounding her delivery. On an average day, April’s live stream attracts thousands of viewers and comments being published faster than once a minute.

April and her calf are a public relations goldmine for Animal Adventure. Every day that she is overdue she provides the park with invaluable publicity. The park sells official gear, has a “giraffeemoji” and has partnered with the local Hilton hotel to create the “Exclusive April the Giraffe Overnight Package.”

Animal Adventure has taken advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity, and rightly so. Even once April delivers her calf, there are countless other publicity opportunities like a contest to name the baby and selling merchandise to commemorate the event.
When customers/spectators feel personally invested in an animal and their narrative, it is a recipe for success. The attention following April is something that can be duplicated by any zoo or animal park across the country. Those who are looking to attract a similar following should take note, and hope they have their own version of #babywatch coming soon.

Snap Story, Insta Story, or Face Story?

By: Alexis Komatsu, Account Associate for Visionese

58d9dd152dfbdbb8008b478b-2400.png

Image Credit: Business Insider

Facebook just rolled out a new feature on its mobile app that allows users to post photos and videos to their profile that disappear after 24 hours.  

Sound familiar?

Facebook is the latest social media platform to integrate the “story” feature that originated on Snap Inc.’s Snapchat. Stories allow users to immediately share short videos and pictures of what they are doing at any given moment.  Instagram integrated this tool back in August 2016 and it has now become an integral component of marketing and social media strategies for countless companies, brands, and celebrities.

Similar to Snapchat, Facebook has multiple special filters like masks, frames and backgrounds that can be applied to photos. Another very similar feature is the direct messaging element that allows users to share disappearing photos and videos to specific Facebook friends.

With similar features across all three social media platforms, the challenge of differentiating content for each social channel arises. Companies typically use Instagram to post photos and videos while they turn to Facebook for more wordy content. Now that both platforms have the “story” feature, how do you pick which one to post on?

First, you should consider the purpose of what you’re posting. Are you directing your followers to buy something, participate, or share?

Also, think about your audience. Facebook users tend to be a little older in age, while Instagram and Snapchat users consist of a younger demographic.

Facebook “stories” are a very new feature so there isn’t a lot of data on how effective they are yet. It will be exciting to see how companies use the feature in their social media and marketing strategies! Will you be using the Facebook stories feature?

Avoiding Rookie Intern Mistakes

By: Amy Walker, Account Executive for Trafika Europe

aumovies_the_internship_trailer_lrg-18nurd3

Image Credit: Flickering Myth

As college undergraduate students, the thought of full-time internships or jobs can be borderline terrifying. Semesters allot time off between summer and winter breaks, allowing for endless Netflix binges and zero stress. The “real world”, however, is filled with never-ending work, adult responsibilities, and a maximum of 14 vacation days. In these professional environments, it’s difficult for young adults to navigate the proper procedures necessary to succeed. After completing two full-time, ten week internships throughout the course of my college career, I can confidently say that I learned countless lessons in how to thrive during a summer internship.

Keep Emails Concise & Professional

Looking back on the first few weeks of my most recent internship, I shudder at the thought of the emails that I sent other employees. A lot of millennials write emails as they would text messages: with excessive exclamation marks and emoticons. I suggest only using one or two exclamation marks maximum in any email and only rarely use smiley faces, unless you know the recipient extremely well. Overusing either of these can be perceived as incredibly unprofessional, especially if you’re contacting someone you have yet to meet in person.

Stay Curious, Ask Questions

With both of my previous internships, I was initially timid when asking my bosses questions. Whether it was clarifying an assignment or just wondering something about the company out loud, speaking up seemed annoying to me for one reason or another. In reality, however, bosses appreciate an employee more when they ask for elaboration as opposed to doing a project incorrectly the first time.

Don’t Go On Facebook

Avoid distracting social media sites at all costs. It can be tempting to quickly check the latest Tasty video or share a post to your friend’s wall, but bosses definitely notice when their interns are distracted. It’s obvious both in the moment and when assignments aren’t getting handed in on time. When I felt like I was hitting a wall, I walked around the office once or twice to briefly get a change of scenery before tackling my next task.

Speak Up, Give Feedback

Being the new member of any organization makes expressing opinions extremely intimidating. The first few weeks of my internships I didn’t want to make suggestions for fear of seeming overly critical. I would sit in a corner during meetings avoiding being noticed, and I remember panicking when the director of my team would ask me questions. During an evaluation with my manager, he told me he wanted more input from me in terms of what could be done better with my internship and even company procedures. As long as you address the situation appropriately and in the right manner, your boss will recognize your willingness to make a positive impact and contribute to the company.

4 Essential Business Skills: A Recipe For Getting Ahead

By: Shayna Rogoff, Account Associate for Visionese

5f981aff91fb4899b3ad0fc5e7e0ba80

Image Credit: Media Cache

In our society’s candidate-driven job market, the competition and the expectation of basic business skills is high. Here are four essential business skills to help you succeed in your career and set yourself apart when job hunting

Strong Professional Communication Skills

According to Bloomberg’s 2015 Job Skills Report, most employers are looking for candidates with strong communication abilities. Although communication skills are consistently emphasized throughout our lives, employers in the report found the skill relatively hard to come by. The ability to communicate effectively is not only extremely effective in the business world, it is an essential life skill.  Whether you’re not so great at writing, you don’t feel like you’re very persuasive, or anything in between, challenge yourself to work on one thing at a time to improve your professional communication.

Leadership Abilities

You might assume that having strong leadership skills only becomes important once you start managing people. However, leadership abilities are important to your success even when you’re the most junior individual on the team. Every time a group of people comes together, they need to choose what to do, when, and how to do it. Understanding how to unify the group and make decisions quickly and without conflict will make you incredibly valuable. Sometimes, this may mean not getting your way.
An Understanding of Marketing

 

It doesn’t matter what profession or industry you belong to—at the end of the day, your success depends on the customer. That’s why it’s essential to understand why consumers make the decisions they do and how you can use this information to your company’s advantage. Marketing is the ways in which a business communicates its value to potential customers. It is important that you understand and practice that type of communication in the business world. In order to excel and advance in your career, you should display a deep understanding of how to effectively market your company to stand out amongst its competitors.

An Understanding of Finance

 

An important part of any business organization is the money that comes in and the money that goes out. No matter your profession, understanding basic accounting is important to everyone. In order to know the language of business and understand our current economy, you need some general knowledge of finance. For example, before accepting a job you would want to have an understanding of the company’s financial health. Work life aside, your personal finances will benefit, as you will know how to make the most out of your money. There are plenty of books and online resources to help you build an understanding, you can even follow some experts on twitter.

No matter what you do, growing in these four areas will help you build relationships, think strategically about your company, and be seen as a leader. All in all, that’s a recipe for getting ahead.

Misconceived Notions About Leadership

By: Marisa DeGennaro, Director of Consulting

1888c5b

Leadership still means you’re part of a team, not a dictator of one.

Many times, when people think leader they think boss, as in “bossy”. And while a leader does various management tasks from communication management to quality management, their main goal should always be to grow a team not bark at one.

Growing a team can be daunting at best. As a leader, I can become frustrated when team members don’t give an assignment the proper attention to detail or just miss the mark in general. It happens, and everyone makes mistakes. It’s important to see a mistake, edit it, and then show team members where they went wrong and how they can improve. Your number one goal as a leader should be to care for your team members’ improvement and upkeep a positive culture. This doesn’t mean screaming or getting angry, it means kindness and forgiveness.

This brings me to motivating a team. My first day managing a team I expected everyone to be as enthusiastic and passionate about providing high quality work as I was in their position. The truth of the matter is that not everyone is constantly motivated to give 100%. Your team culture becomes imperative here! One or two team members who are energetic and motivated can encourage the whole team. Appreciation also goes a long way. Showing team members they are doing a good job might encourage them to keep it up or even go above and beyond. At the end of the day, a leader needs to constantly find new ways to keep morale high. After all, your team should be your number one priority.

Leadership also means management of crisis. At times your team might fail or things might fall through the cracks. Showing a positive attitude in the face of adversity, accepting responsibility even if your team doesn’t perform, and taking criticism are part of the job.

Leadership is more than just delegation. Instead, it takes an open mind and determination.

A great leader means a great team. After that, success will just come naturally.

7 Tips to Improve Your Resume

By: Lauren Haag, Account Executive for What’sPoppin

il_570xn-997344199_rgyg

Image Credit: Etsy

Creating a resume can be pretty daunting, especially when there are so many rules and guidelines to keep in mind. Beyond this, it is critical to regularly update and revamp your resume. The following tips will help to make your resume stand out from the rest of the pile.

1. Make two (if applicable)

If you are in a position where you could be applying for a public relations and a graphic design position, having two resumes would be very beneficial. You may be wondering what the difference is between the two. For a PR application, a clean black and white resume would suffice; however, for a creative position the possibilities are endless. Adding colors or a personal logo will demonstrate your creativity and set you apart from other applicants.

2. “Do I need an objective?”

Objectives really boil down to personal preference. If you’ve ever had your resume reviewed by a professional within your field, you may have received conflicting feedback. Many positions require cover letters which in a nutshell contain your objective and why you are seeking a particular position.

3. Customize It

When you are applying for a job, omitting irrelevant information or previous jobs may be beneficial. By choosing not to include past experiences that are unrelated, you will free up some room to add the most vital information.

4. Add hobbies

Hobbies, if nothing else, create talking points in an interview. You only have a short amount of time to impress your employer and a fun fact about yourself can do just that! I’ve heard from many professionals that they have hired certain people for client accounts based on their hobbies and interests.

5. Don’t be afraid to use numbers

Incorporating numbers or statistics within your resume will show potential employers the tangible work you have completed. For example, stating that you helped grow your client’s social media by a certain percentage is something that will be unique from other resumes.

6. Format

This may come as no surprise, but format is a factor that should not be overlooked. Pay close attention to spacing and font size because they can make or break your resume. In the end, you can never go wrong with a clean and well organized resume.

7. Get a second and third opinion

If you are still unsure about your resume- get another opinion! Attend resume workshops or have a friend read over it. Most likely, there are countless resources around you that can help to improve your resume. Although you will receive a lot of feedback as to what your resume should look like, personal preference is very important!

The Truth About Spin

By: Zack Jones, Account Executive for Phospholutions

Word Pr.wooden Cubes On Magazine

Image Credit: Cyber PR

I was in a political science class a few weeks ago and we were talking about the meaning of truth in our current political climate. The professor was talking about the many ways the government can lie to the public and how increasingly, there is a growing concern over the trustworthiness of the media – an institution whose sole purpose is to find the truth on behalf of every citizen. During the conversation, the professor stopped talking and asked if there were any public relations professionals in the room. A double major in public relations, I raised my hand wondering where the conversation was going next. I was the only one in the room to raise my hand. The professor then turned to me and said, “Ah, this must be a great time for your industry because they need people who can effectively spin. Isn’t that what you guys do most?” I left that class pondering his comments. The truth is, PR is not at all about spin.

Spin is a means of propaganda, often defined as the presentation of one side of an argument regardless of fact. In examining my professor’s comment, it’d be easy to see how one could conflate public relations to be a profession all about spin. In recent weeks we have seen individuals call news they do not like “fake news” or “fake media outlets,” and we have even seen others call to question the authenticity of “facts” by embracing “alternative facts.” It is important to note that alternative facts are not real, they are actually falsehoods that should not be presented as facts. These falsehoods have now become the layman’s functioning definition of spin, and by extension the layman’s functioning definition of public relations.

Here’s the truth about public relations: the industry runs off facts – information presented as having an objective reality (Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 2017). Organizations, corporations and brands who appreciate the value of engagement with the public will understand the importance of truth. As public relations professionals, all we have is our credibility. If reporters and the wider public can’t trust us, then we are completely useless to the field. As a vice-president of the Penn State chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America, I take very seriously our PRSA code of ethics which states: “We adhere to the highest standards of accuracy and truth in advancing the interests of those we represent and in communicating with the public.” (PRSA, 2017)
As my professor says in my COMM 373: Crisis Communications class, every public relations professional should, “Tell the truth, tell it quickly and tell it yourself.” This includes times when things are not in our best interests. Let that be our guiding principle as we traverse this field and grow in our profession – our credibility and the credibility of those we represent are at stake.

5 Ways Penn State Students Killed the PR Game at THON 2017

By: Maggie MacDonald, Account Associate for Phospholutions

THON 2017-FINAL REVEAL.jpg

Image Credit: Michelle Bixby

THON is a 46 hour dance marathon during which participants cannot sit or sleep. Since 1973, THON has raised millions of dollars benefiting efforts to eradicate pediatric cancer. Perhaps one of THON’s most impressive feats is the fact that it is entirely student run. This year, our HVC team was particularly impressed with the efforts put forth by the public relations committee. This weekend had us at HVC proud to be Penn Stater’s, and proud to be amongst such a skilled group of aspiring PR professionals.

Here are five of the best PR moves made by our peers at THON 2017:

  1. Prominent position on social media

THON’s social media presence was tenacious across a trilogy of social media platforms throughout the entire 46 hours. The student volunteers actively posted to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram THON pages throughout the entire weekend. These posts were not only timely, they were high-quality. Expert-looking photos and creatively designed Canva’s flooded the feeds of each page.

  1. Consistent branding

Amongst the 15,261 students that constitute a full-capacity BJC, all were sporting various THON related apparel. Each item communicated the infamous “FTK” (For The Kids) slogan. This branding effort undoubtedly ignited curiosity within passer-byers upon seeing students as they buzzed around campus to and from the BJC. This brand awareness generated a greater interest in the surrounding population about the event.

  1. Live feed

The live feed, or 46 LIVE, was made available online to the entire world. This means that anyone could see the real-time events at any given moment throughout the weekend. The live feed was a PR success in that it took the event to a global scale, sparking conversations within a multitude of different audiences.

  1. News coverage

Whoever was in charge of media outreach for THON did a phenomenal job. It seemed as though almost every major local news outlet was present at THON, if not just for one hour to gather their own coverage. One thing’s for sure: the THON 2017 media clip book will be overflowing.

  1. Succinct messaging

“Ignite hope from within,” was the pinnacle of the THON 2017 messaging. And it was definitely not lost on the audience. The firefly accompanied this slogan and was present in as many facets as possible– on the mega screen, volunteers shirts and on the screen of the live feed. This messaging effortlessly reminded the audience of the exact reason Penn State students are so passionate about THON weekend: to inspire the kids to fight on in the face of pediatric cancer.
THON 2017 was a success in many ways, from raising $10,045,478.44 for the kids, to attracting national media attention, and securing a surprise performance by Joe Jonas & DNCE. We are proud of our fellow students for carrying on the inspiring tradition.  

By: Caitlin Gailey, Account Executive for First Pick

trump-nordstrom-feud-lead-1486742151

Image Credit: Cosmopolitan

In the aftermath of the presidential election hysteria, big companies are starting to find themselves in hot water. Businesses like Uber, Starbucks, Under Armour and most recently Nordstrom are feeling the backlash of their political ties.  

Nordstrom recently dropped Ivanka Trump’s clothing line due to poor sales. The decision to stop carrying the line resulted in an angry President Trump and a lot of mixed reactions towards the company. Meanwhile, many users have been boycotting the Uber app due to its response to the recently halted immigration ban.

Whether it be in the news or on social media, it seems that everyone is sharing their two cents on the political state of our country. However, for companies with large markets this may not be the best decision. In the public relations industry, it’s been said that there is no such thing as bad publicity. In most cases this is certainly true, because positive or negative news about your company gains exposure. However, in this instance companies are ostracizing a portion of their audience by interfering politically. In the hotbed that is American politics, it serves little purpose for company executives to share their views or make decisions based on politics.

In the case of Nordstrom, the company’s decision to stop selling Ivanka Trump’s line was made solely from a sales perspective. However, the backlash from President Trump supporters should not come as a surprise. The tiniest decisions can be amplified, so public relations professionals will have to carefully manage their brands messages moving forward.

 

Snapchat: Let Me Spell it Out for You

By: Stephanie Chasi-Asqui, Account Associate for PA Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association

enhanced-30108-1461811612-1

Image Credit: BuzzFeed

In today’s fast paced society, consumers love media that is quick and simple…AKA SNAPCHAT! Seriously, what’s quicker than watching a 10 second snap or sending one? Luckily, the PR industry recognizes this and has snapped to it. Here are 8 reasons why PR professionals should utilize Snapchat!

S = Spontaneity.  You have the power to snap about whatever you would like in the spark of the moment. This unpredictability often leaves your audience wondering what creative techniques you are going to use next, adding a sense of surprise to your brand.

N = Never a Dull Moment! By utilizing Snapchat, your is personalizing you brand, so have fun with it! Create a story that can build a more loyal audience.

A = Abundance of information means that you can give your viewers lots of details. You can promote one of your client’s events and include the date, time and location all in one snap by using the geofilers and date/time functions.

P = Previews and behind the scenes are essential to providing your snap fans with an inside look. Also, it’s one of the stepping stones to creating a brand-consumer connection with your viewers and making them feel exclusive.

C = Creative opportunities are endless on Snapchat. You can play around with the filters, change your voice from slow motion to fast motion, create a drawing or use geotags. Whichever function you may use will add creativity to your story and most importantly, it will keep your followers entertained.

H = Host contests with product giveaways. Two things that people absolutely love are winning and free swag. Contests are the best way to interact with your audience in a fun and productive way. They can reply back with videos, snaps or even drawings.

A = Audience. As PR students, we are constantly told to define our audience. Snapchat allows you to do this in a very unique and personal way. By following your fans back on Snapchat, not only do they get an inside look at the product but, you get an inside look in their life too! Knowing your audience’s interests, dislikes and complaints through Snapchat gives you great insight that can benefit your business.

T = Time is money. You probably have heard this phrase countless times because it is absolutely true. Snapchat is the most efficient way to reach this on-the-go society because it’s quick, easy and simple for companies and their audiences.

So, are you ready to snap?