Posts Tagged ‘public relations students’


Five Back-to-School Tips for Public Relations Students

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014
Back to schoo tips public relations students Tressa Robbins PR Public Relations Press Clipping Media Monitoring

flickr user katerha under CC BY

Mentoring, advising and otherwise helping PR students is a passion of mine. You may know that I’ve previously written about what public relations students should do during their summer break, what PR students can do to build their personal brand, and more. If you are an underclassman, you have the advantage of time; however, if you are entering your senior year, there is no time but the present.

Here is a mash-up of those tips (and some new ones) to help put you on the right path to becoming a new public relations professional.

  • First things first, clean-up and refine your online presence—including your social media accounts. Google yourself (be sure to hide personal results by clicking the globe in the upper right)–and don’t forget Bing and Yahoo!. If the first page results do not represent you and who you are, immediately begin digital damage control. (This is even more important if you have a common name or have a dubious doppelgänger out there.) There are free tools to help you keep an eye on your online reputation –personally, I use BrandYourself.

Human Resources professionals will likely tell you they look at LinkedIn profiles but not a candidate’s Facebook page or other social media, as they are prohibited by law to access any information that could be used in a discriminatory way. However, they will also admit that many hiring managers do vet job candidates through online/social sleuthing. Proof in point: According to the 2013 Jobvite study, 94 percent of recruiters use or plan to use social media in their recruitment efforts.

  • Read, write, repeat. Reading exercises your brain. Writing is a skill that requires practice. But it’s more than that. Reading improves your vocabulary, makes you a better conversationalist, gives you a broader understanding of language and improves your storytelling skills (a key component of public relations). Sure, industry-related content is important but also read general news and (try to) read for fun as well.

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” ~Stephen King

 

  • Volunteer. Get involved with an on-campus pre-professional organization (like PRSSA, AMA or AAF). That doesn’t mean show-up once or twice a month and sit through a guest speaker or meeting. Run for office and/or lead a committee (demonstrates leadership). Head-up a fundraising event, volunteer to be part of a team, work in the student-run PR firm (if there is one). If you have free time, volunteer at a local non-profit organization and offer to help with public relations, marketing, social media, blog content creation, special events. Do something that’s going to give you experience and help sharpen your skills—it all counts!
  • Network—virtually and IRL. Seek out and follow industry leaders on Twitter, LinkedIn groups, and blogs so you can learn from the pros; but don’t just lurk—participate! Attend industry events (not just those for students but where there will be pros as well). Research agencies, organizations, companies that you would like to intern with or work for.  Develop and practice your elevator speech; you should have a 30-second spiel that is memorable and opens a window to your personality, your passions and your mindset. Not a laundry list of skills, rather what you can offer to a potential employer. Use your smartphone to record yourself so you can play it back and make improvements. Then, reach out to your targets and request an informational interview. If face-to-face isn’t an option, Skype or Google+ Hangouts are good alternatives. Ask what (coursework, degrees, activities, skill sets) they are looking for when hiring. Ask, given identical academic backgrounds, what makes some candidates standout above the rest. Doing this NOW allows you time to make a quick change to a more pertinent elective, audit a course or self-teach additional skills.
  • Create an online portfolio if you haven’t already. Gather writing samples from internships, volunteer gigs, blog posts, class assignments. Be sure to include any public relations or marketing plans you’ve created, press releases, anything written in AP Style, newspaper/media clippings, presentations, creative design samples, reference letters, special certifications, etc. (NOTE: If you are including any work that was done as part of a group, be sure to notate this and identify which part you actually did.) PR professionals must view themselves as “brands”—it’s a very competitive industry. Your online portfolio, business cards, blog, resume, etc. should all present one cohesive message.

What else should students be doing to prepare for their PR career?  If you are a student or recent graduate, what have you done (or are doing) that’s helped to progress your career?

What Public Relations Students Should Do During Summer Break

Monday, June 3rd, 2013
Flickr.com: QueensU

Flickr.com: QueensU

Those who were seniors this past year are now graduated and moved on, leaving room for the next class of future PR professionals to fill their shoes—to take next steps on the path of their PR student career.  So, what should they be doing during summer break? Listed below are a few items that came to my mind (but I’m hoping some of our PR pro friends will chime-in with additional tips):

  • Set short-term goals. For example, attend at least one professional industry networking event over the summer. Or, read industry blogs and/or articles and comment on at least one each week.
  • Set long-term goals, write them down and number them in order of importance. For example, attend at least one industry professional networking event per semester. And/or get involved with on-campus pre-professional organization (like PRSSA or AMA).
  • Work on your portfolio. Gather writing samples–or create some by volunteering to write a guest blog post, or better yet, start your own blog. Be sure to include any public relations or marketing plans you’ve created, press releases, anything written in AP Style, research papers, newspaper clippings, presentations, creative design samples, reference letters, special certifications, etc. If you haven’t yet created an online portfolio, do so. The earlier you begin, the more prepared you will be come graduation time. NOTE: If you are including any work that was done as part of a group, be sure to notate this and identify which part you actually did.
  • Practice your elevator speech. You should have a 30-second spiel that is memorable and opens a window to your personality, your passions and your mindset. Not a laundry list of skills but rather what you can offer to a potential employer. Practice OUT LOUD. Use your smartphone to record yourself so you can play it back and make improvements.
  • Clean-up and hone your online presence—including your social media accounts. Google yourself  (be sure to ‘hide personal results’ by clicking the globe in the upper right)–and don’t forget Bing and Yahoo!. If the first page results do not represent who you are, immediately begin digital damage control. This is even more important if you have a common name and can easily be confused with a dubious doppelgänger. Seek out and follow industry leaders so you can network and learn from the professionals, not just fellow students.
    • Not sure what “digital damage control” is? Here are some tips from CareerBuilder on CNN.com.
    • Don’t think employers are using the Web and social media to research job candidates? Read this from the Wall Street Journal.
  • PR professionals must view themselves as “brands”—it’s a very competitive industry. Your business cards, resume, online portfolios, etc. should present a cohesive message. Work on ensuring that all these match your “brand.”
  • Research agencies, organization, companies that you would like to intern with or work for.  Reach out to them and request an information interview. Face-to-face is best but Skype or Google+ Hangouts work, too. Ask what (coursework, degrees, activities, skill sets) they are looking for when hiring. Ask, given identical academic backgrounds, what makes some candidates standout above the rest.
  • If you have free time, volunteer at a local non-profit organization and offer to help with public relations, marketing, social media, blog content creation, special events. This is experience—it all counts!

What else should students (or young PR pros) be doing in preparation for their career?  If you are a student or recent graduate, what have you done (or are doing) to progress your career? We want to hear from you.

What Can a College Football Coach Teach PR?

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

Steve Shannon
I managed to catch one segment of the show 60 Minutes about Pete Carroll, the football coach of the University of Southern California.  The segment was a good analogy for readying public relations students for the real life-working world of PR.

In the interview, Carroll came straight out and said he wanted his team to be the one that practiced the best. The skeptical reporter then asked if he had heard correctly, “practiced the best, but not played the best?” Carroll replied yes, that’s correct, because if his team practiced the best, then they would play the best. The segment then went on to drive home Carroll’s point, showing him running practice. Rather than doing a series of controlled drills to deliver the overarching theory of the game plan to his players, the team practices as if they are actually playing the upcoming game. This includes simulated crowd noise, TV timeouts and the like, so that when Saturday arrives, the team will have already played the game, not just practiced bits and pieces of it in theory.

Based on the number of complaints about their preparedness I hear at the conferences I attend, Carroll’s type of practicing/learning must not take place for today’s PR grads. The conclusion I draw is that, unlike Carroll’s players, PR students must spend a lot of time learning PR theory and not enough time practicing their “blocking and tackling” skills. Writing, speaking, sociology, psychology, business, and government, to name a few, (note that none of these are specific to public relations) are all skills that could make them successful entry level PR pros. I’m sure any organization or PR agency would be eager to hire a grad strong in these areas versus those that have a knowledge base on PR from top to bottom. Other than writing, and maybe speaking, how many of those other areas are truly taught in each and every PR class?

Carroll’s young charges don’t have to understand or even know every nuance of the Trojan’s game plan, or even have to have a desire to be a coach some day. They just have to be the best at their part of the team when called upon. Isn’t that what organizations and agencies are really looking for when making entry-level PR hires? Some of those hires will learn and excel at PR, moving up the ranks (like some USC players going on to play in the NFL), and it won’t be the theory they learned at school that propels them there.