PR Start by Nick Lucido

How to start in the public relations industry.

How to Prepare for PR in College – Part 3

I’m writing a four-part blog post on how to have a successful collegiate career for those interested in public relations. I’m basing this largely off my own experiences (a lot of what I’m including reflects what I wish I would have done during college, particularly in my early years) and those in my network. Please share and comment — with enough feedback, I may write another revised post.

You’re half-way done with your college career by now, but you’re hardly heading down the hill. As a junior, you should know a lot about public relations and what you want to do when you graduate. In a lot of ways, the jump from sophomore year to junior year is huge: you’ll be taking upper-level classes, you qualify for more scholarships and internships, and your younger colleagues will look up to you for help and advice. Here are my tips on how to have a successful junior year in college.

Maximize your PRSSA membership

I’ll ask this again… If you haven’t already joined PRSSA, what are you waiting for? Junior year is a great time to not only be an active member, but a leader and mentor to your peers. As a leader, you should have strong skills and be able to demonstrate how to be successful in PR. Here’s what I would do to maximize your PRSSA membership junior year:

  • Take on leadership roles on the executive board and on committees. Build your relationships with peers and learn from them, too.
  • Continue attending local, regional and national events. Attending National Conference, National Assembly and Regional Activities are great ways to learn more about the profession and network. If you have been to one of these events before, don’t think you won’t get anything out of attending another year. Also, make sure to network with your peers — someday, they will be your colleagues.
  • Get published! One of the most practical membership benefits is that you can get your work published from the local to the national level. Consider writing for your Chapter’s newsletter (or even start one). You can also write for national publications and submit press releases to Chapter News.
  • If you have the opportunity to work with members of PRSA, do it! If you can serve on a committee or help plan an event, it’s a great way to get to know some pros.
  • Apply for national awards. Did you know PRSSA gives away around $20,000 in scholarships and awards? Check them out here.

Tip: Again, your membership will take you miles if you get active. What are you waiting for?

Choose your summer internship wisely

It’s really important to recognize the fact that this internship might be your last before you graduate. As such, if you do a good job, the chances of you getting a full time position with that company when you graduate significantly increase. Work hard, learn a lot and check out my tips on interning here. Also, getting a top-notch internship doesn’t mean you have to go to Chicago, LA or New York. You can get quality experience anywhere as long as you make it a quality experience.

Even so, you might find that you have a negative experience at the internship. Make sure that you make the most of the position and don’t burn your bridges with that company.

Tip: Choose a company that you can see yourself working for when you graduate. Prioritize what you value and look for companies that are similar.

A word on what you submit professionally

I’ve heard this too many times to ignore putting this in my post. When you submit your resume, cover letter or professional work samples, make sure it’s absolutely perfect. That means no spelling, grammar or AP errors. If a recruiter sees a single error on something you submit, chances are you’ll be out of the running for that position. The reality is that for one position in a PR jobs, there will probably be a ton of applications, especially at the agency level. Make sure your work is the best that it can be and that you and people in your network proofread it.

Another tip that has helped me is make all of your work follow AP Style. In your resume, make sure your states and dates follow the correct abbreviations, don’t write website anywhere (it’s Web site, according to AP) and follow the correct capitalization rules of titles. Again, have this proofread by as many people as possible.

Tip: If you haven’t already, get yourself an AP Stylebook and learn the rules. Some supplemental quizzes are here, here and here.

Get to know the industry

Truthfully, the best way to learn about new things going on in the public relations industry is to read about it. Knowing about account changes, new trends (especially in the digital sphere and best practices will help you learn the lingo and know what’s going on. I’ve included my recommendations as to what to read in order to learn more — I definitely recommend you check these sources out, both in print and online.

Tip: Subscribe to these publications/Web sites to better understand the world of public relations:

School is still important

I participated in a recruitment event for MSU a couple of years ago, and amid a conversation with a future Spartan, I realized something that is often forgotten when career advice is discussed. In my spiel, I talked about how many opportunities he will have to prepare himself for a successful career, but admittedly, I didn’t talk about classes. He then asked me, “so classes really aren’t that important, are they?”

Unfortunately, this is a bad attitude that a lot of over-achievers tend to spread. Sure, gaining internship experience, getting involved on campus and everything else is really important, but doing well in school is a given on the road to success. Even more discouraging is that GPA isn’t the most important thing to a public relations student. I think a better attitude is to treat college like a mini real world: there will always be things you don’t want to do, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not important.

Tip: Challenge yourself in classes, and do a good job in them — it pays off.

Here’s what my Twitter network had to add:

@ckeppler Obvious, but they should take the opportunity to build their resume with internships and volunteering over the summer.

@LJZuber Make sure to go to networking events as well as run for leadership positions!

@kellee_m Get PR experience to build your resume in any way that you can, even if the job doesn’t pay

@AllisonLeAnn Create & perfect your resume, portfolio, blog/website & interview skills; Network, Network, Network!; Don’t procrastinate!

So, what do you think PR juniors should be doing to stay on track? Anything else to add?

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Filed under: Internships, PR Book Club, Professional Development, PRSSA, , , , , , , , , , ,

How to Prepare for PR in College – Part 2

I’m writing a four-part blog post on how to have a successful collegiate career for those interested in public relations. I’m basing this largely off my own experiences (a lot of what I’m including reflects what I wish I would have done during college, particularly in my early years) and those in my network. Please share and comment — with enough feedback, I may write another revised post.

The way I see it, you really need to lay strong foundations in your college career. That means starting early. Sure, some people can pull it off starting in their junior year (and do a good job, too), but if you keep these important principles in mind early, you’ll be off to a great start. That said, here are my tips on sophomore year:

Get your career going!

Now you’re out of the “way to get involved so early” phase that is freshmen year (I heard this a lot), get going with your professional career. Start seeking internship experience during the school year (if possible) as well as the summer after the year. In my previous post, I talked about getting jobs on campus working for the school newspaper or in sales/fund raising — these are great jobs to develop necessary public relations skills. You can move on from those positions to PR internships, or take on leadership roles within those positions.

If you choose the PR internship route, start by making a list of several companies you want to work and find ways to network with their employees. One of these ways is to attend networking events through PRSA and other associations. Another way is the informational interview. E-mail a younger professional with the company and see if they have a half an hour to talk about the company. This is a great foot-in-the-door opportunity, and remember not to be shy.

Tip: Make business cards, attend networking events and follow up with the professionals you meet. You’d be surprised how many people don’t follow up and that puts you far ahead of the rest.

Think diversity

As you begin to think about what you want to do with your career, make sure you’re thinking diversity. This doesn’t necessarily pertain to ethnicity; it means to think of your career in an interdisciplinary fashion. Working at two mid-size agencies specializing in health care probably isn’t your best approach. Try to get as much experience in as many different industries in a many different atmospheres as possible. It’s a mouthful, but learning from different people will help you down the road.

This also means to get involved with different things. Getting involved with communication organizations is great, but also think about student government, research with professors and other leadership opportunities. Sometimes, the best experiences come from where you’d least expect it.

Tip: Try to work in at least three different settings. Some options you have include large and small corporations, differently sized agencies, nonprofits and writing jobs. Try to mix and match with what you would like to do when you graduate.

Maximize your PRSSA membership

If you haven’t already joined PRSSA, what are you waiting for? Sophomore year is a prime time to be active in the organization and network with your peers. Here’s what I would do to maximize your PRSSA membership:

  • Take on leadership roles. Yes, you have to do more than just go to the meetings. Talk to your executive board and learn ways to lead committees, shadow the e-board and learn as much as you can about the organization.
  • Attend regional and national events. Here’s where it gets a little more expensive. Attending National Conference, National Assembly and Regional Activities are great ways to learn more about the profession and network.
  • Work with other Chapters in the area. Get to know some of the other students at colleges nearby.
  • Work for your student-run firm. If you don’t have one yet, consider starting one with a single client and work up from there. Check here for more info on this.
  • Learn about the member benefits — locally and nationally. Talk to your local executive board for information on scholarships and awards, mentoring programs and other benefits. Also, there are so many benefits at the national level. Check them out here.

As you can see, I put a lot of emphasis on making the most of your membership. This organization probably won’t help you if you aren’t active. If you are active and get the most out of your membership, you’ll have a job when you graduate.

Tip: Don’t make excuses — get active, take on leadership roles and go to conferences.

Study abroad or intern?

I’ve heard this debate a lot, and truthfully, there’s not necessarily a better choice. Some companies would rather see more experience, but some of the larger corporations want to see international experience. I know a lot of this depends on your financial situation, so if you have the money and can do it, I would recommend fitting this in some time during college.

Tip: If you can fit in a study abroad, try to do it earlier than later so you don’t have to choose between your trip and a sweet internship.

And here is what my Twitter community thought about sophomore year:

@AdrienneBailey Find an internship with a nonprofit for experience or job shadow to learn the ropes! And of course join & get involved w/ PRSSA

@KarenRussel get more involved in student orgs (as PR rep) and volunteer positions — starts to build experience for internships

@KFo11 and get connected with professors to ask them what they did and what did/didnt work for them! MISS YOUR GUTS

@makeyourownfun Now that they’ve probably had time to hear of some of the student organizations, to get actively involved with them

@AngelaHernandez It’s never too early to gain experience. Do PR for nonprofits, small biz or other student orgs

@kelle_m Take as many writing classes as possible

So, what else do you have to add for sophomores?

Filed under: Internships, Professional Development, PRSSA, Public Relations, , , , , , , , ,

How to Prepare for PR in College – Part 1

I’m writing a four-part blog post on how to have a successful collegiate career for those interested in public relations. I’m basing this largely off my own experiences (a lot of what I’m including reflects what I wish I would have done during college, particularly in my early years) and those in my network. Please share and comment — with enough feedback, I may write another revised post.

For many, freshmen year is a time to transition and learn a new surrounding. From my own experience, a lot of people didn’t have a job or even a declared major, but one thing I learned is that freshmen year is a great opportunity to start your career. Here is a list of what I think are the most important things to keep in mind during freshmen year:

On selecting a major

The more and more I think about what major you choose, the more I think that it’s not necessarily the most important thing you should focus on. I think the key item to take away when choosing a major is that you should weigh your options and carefully choose. Another important thing to remember is the more writing classes you can take, the better off you will be in the long run. Here’s a list of preferred programs:

  • Public Relations-If your school has it — great! Similar programs that will probably have a lot of PR stuff include Advertising, Communication or Mass Media. Make sure the program has plenty of writing classes, but also make sure to take classes in other fields (i.e. business, political science, psychology) in order to become more competent in other areas.
  • Business- If you want to work in corporate communications or in an agency setting, a business degree is a great idea, just make sure to take more writing classes. If you emphasize your classes in marketing, this will be especially helpful.
  • Journalism- Knowing how to write (well) is arguably the most important skill a PR practitioner can have, but also know that PR practitioners write to persuade. That’s why if you’re planning on studying journalism, it’s good to have another major or minor to complement this.
  • Social Science- My other degree is in political science, and truthfully, it’s kicking my butt. However, I’m learning a lot of research (I’m surprised at this), analytical and writing skills, too. I’ve heard this from others, so it’s probably not a bad idea to consider a social science major. Dr. Rick Cole, the chairperson for the APRR Department at MSU, once told me, “Don’t forget the business is communication but the science is social and the science separates the real leaders from the technicians.”
  • Other- You’ll find that many practitioners “fall” into PR — as long as you are strategic with your career approach and make smart decisions, there are many other degrees that would prepare you for a PR career.

Tip: choose wisely, and seek input from many people.

Join PRSSA and other organizations

I truly believe that if you take advantage of all the opportunities PRSSA has for its members, you will start off on a successful career — not just a job — in public relations. I could keep going about how PRSSA is so helpful for PR students, but I think the most important thing to remember is that you need to take advantage of the opportunities. While you’re at it, join another organization that is service-oriented. Volunteering can be an integral asset on your resume, so while you have time freshmen year, help some people out.

Tip: become active in PRSSA, apply for leadership positions when possible and join another organization (not necessarily PR-related) that will allow plenty of volunteer opportunities.

Get a job

There are not any legitimate excuses why freshmen can’t have jobs. Seriously. Going from high school, when you’re in class for nearly 40 hours per week, to college, when you’re in class for around 15 hours per week, gives you plenty of time for a job. Even if you have to work in the cafeteria or telemarketing, just get a job. And try to save some of that money (like I said above — this is what I wish I would have done).

Tip: try to get a job working with people or on teams in order to develop phone and other communication skills.

Internship or no internship?

As a freshmen, I think it’s better to spend the year preparing for an internship rather than actively seeking one. That means building your resume (with the tools listed above), networking with professionals and learning the right skills. I would take a look at trying to find an internship after freshmen year.

Tip: you probably won’t get paid at your first internship, and maybe in future internships. Don’t be afraid to work with a nonprofit or small agency, especially during your freshmen year, while you still have your high school graduation party money.

Facebook is NOT for drunk pictures

I’ll tell you what no one told me as a freshmen — professionals are on Facebook and will “friend” you. Anticipate that down the line, you’ll need to have a clean online presence. Enough said.

Tip: don’t think cameras at parties are safe. And don’t be dumb about what you leaved tagged.

On networking

I’ve been in PRSSA for three years now, and each year brings a new class of freshmen who think they don’t have to start networking until their junior or senior year. If you learn one thing from this post, learn this: the best time to build a network is when you don’t necessarily need your network. If you start networking during your junior or senior year, you will undoubtedly face the awkward resume pass-on. However, if you have a strong network, you will be more likely to avoid this.

Tip: attend PRSA events, get to know leaders and members of student organizations, and attend your professors’ office hours. Network well and make sure people know you, especially in a good way.

I also asked my Twitter network what they thought, and here is what they added:

@carolinejones Use every mistake/pitfall as a learning opportunity to build knowledge and grow as a person.

@MKMasson Get involved RIGHT AWAY. PRSSA is the best experience, even if you don’t even know the definition of public relations yet.

@kellee_m Start early and get involved on campus. If you’re connected to people within campus, you can get hired before you even graduate

@GuyMCampbell Advice for PR freshmen: take extra writing classes and learn to pitch by phone & f2f, not just email. I learned in “real world.”

@CharlieCurve Intern early. Intern often. Internships provide valuable experience, but more importantly, they help you build relationships.

@LJZuber Volunteer to do things PR related, even if you don’t know what you’re doing – it’s a learning process.

@Charlotte_Marie Don’t be intimated by professionals. Most of them are more than willing to help you out and give valuable advice

@YMoffitt I can offer nothing better than “Get involved early on. It might seem daunting, but the sooner you catch on, the better.”

What else do you have to add?

Filed under: Internships, Professional Development, PRSSA, Public Relations, , , , , , , , ,

On Giving Back

Normally, I like to blog several times in the week, but a recent project (amongst other things) has been taking up my free time. Before I talk about the project, I’ll preface it by saying I’m pretty bad at saying no. I’ve been getting better at learning how, but this was one thing I couldn’t turn down.

About the Project

I’m proud to be part of the volunteer PR team for the Shinsky Orphanage. John Shinsky is an MSU alumnus who literally has been overcoming the odds his entire life. When he was eight years old, his father died and his overwhelmed mother put him in an orphanage. After entering the foster system, John worked and worked to earn a football scholarship at MSU. He then went on to a career in education and now teaches at GVSU. He recently beat cancer and is now biking 2,000 miles with two other friends from the MSU football team to Matamoros, Mexico to build an orphanage there.

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The 2,000 mile bike ride from Michigan State Stadium in East Lansing to the “The City of Children Orphanage” in Matamoros, Mexico shows the passion and commitment so many people have for building and supporting the orphanage. These kids are going to have an incredible opportunity because of John and the people of the project. Every day, John asks himself, “Is there anything I’m doing that makes my life worthwhile?” On the Web site, John said, “what matters is that we use those gifts to make a positive impact on people’s lives; whether it’s an individual or a group of people. I am fortunate to have been in tough situations where I could work and overcome them. Some people don’t get that chance.”

John Shinsky is the real deal. My short summary doesn’t do the guy justice. Read more about why he’s doing what he’s doing here.

What I’m Learning

I wish I can preach about how I volunteer hours and hours in any given week and work with different nonprofit organizations, but the reality of my situation is that I’m unable to commit a set number of hours per week to another organization. I can, however, use my skills in a way that can help other people. And that, is what I have come to find out, is so great about public relations.

How many times have you hear negative things about PR? Whether it’s crappy pitches, or unethical behavior; it can sometimes be disheartening to see and hear such bad things about what I want to do with my career. This project, however, has shown me the incredible capabilities I have as a practitioner. I’m starting to pitch the media this week, and it feels so good to have a heartfelt story that journalists would be crazy to turn down.

The Point

Working with John has been an incredible experience for so many reasons. First of all, he really shows his true passion for helping the children out and engaging his fellow Spartans to help him in his effort. Even better is that I’m getting hands-on public relations experience with a great team.

More than anything else, he made me question, “Is there anything I’m doing that makes my life worthwhile?” It’s easy to get caught up in trying to be the best students we can be, but it is these kinds of projects that are truly fulfilling.For more information on the fundraising bike ride, check out the site here. And for the orphanage Web site, check it out here.

I know this post isn’t what I normally write about, but I was compelled to share the goods things coming from this project. How do you volunteer and give back while balancing everything? Any good stories out there?

Filed under: Public Relations, , , , , , , , ,

Final Presentation from NMDL

I had my last New Media Drivers License class a couple of weeks ago, and our final project was a presentation on what we learned. I wasn’t a stranger to new media in the beginning, but I still learned so much. I think the most important thing I learned was, while I have some pretty solid knowledge of today’s media, tomorrow will be different. Keeping on top of things is important, but as the brilliant Shannon Paul once told me, the new wave of PR professionals will need to walk on the fence between new practices and old techniques.

I tagged all of my adventures under “New Media Drivers License” with this blog, and you can see more about the class here. Because I already some sort of preexisting knowledge about new media, my presentation was a little different than most of my classmates. I focused on these areas:

  • Your online brand
  • Ethics in social media
  • The power of an offline network
  • Continuing your education

Check out the presentation below or on my Slideshare profile.

I’m hoping to help out Derek Mehraban, the instructor, teach the course next semester, so I’m looking for some feedback from all of you. What would you like to see in a new media class? Does your school (or association) have some sort of indstruction on new media? Any best practices you’d like to share?

Thanks for the help!

Filed under: New Media Drivers License, Public Relations, Social Media, , , , , , , ,

Your Career = The Stock Market

I’ll be the first one to admit I don’t know a lot about investing. I know it’s a good idea to invest when the market is down, and hopefully, I’ll make some money when the market turns around. That’s about it. I’ve been doing some more research lately and hope to start investing one of these days, but I couldn’t help noticing how similar investing in the stock market is to a career.

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On thing I’ve learned is that your career is a lot like the stock market, for a lot of reasons. Here are 16 basic principles on investing (in your career) from Swap Meet Dave:

  1. Diversify, diversify, diversify. This doesn’t have anything to do with race or ethnicity. It means becoming a well rounded professional and taking an interdisciplinary approach to your career. Try not to limit yourself down one career path.
  2. Start investing early. Your professional career can begin as early as high school. Don’t wait to get experience in the field and taking part in professional development opportunities.
  3. Invest in things you know. Try not to veer too far away from what you ultimately want to do, but do learn about other things that will help you get there.
  4. Avoid fads. OK, I’ll admit, I jumped right on the social media bandwagon. But I’m still learning a lot about more traditional public relations in internships and school. The point here is to not put all your emphasis on one skill.
  5. Don’t let a market fall change your long-term plans. If you want to be the VP of PR for Calvin Klein, make sure you are following your strategy and not becoming deterred when road blocks fall in front of you – and they will.
  6. Don’t check the price of a stock after you’ve sold it. What’s in the past is in the past. You aren’t able to change the past, but you can change the future. Keep your sight directed forward.
  7. Investing consistently works. Invest in your career over a long period of time and it will pay off.
  8. Don’t panic. If you’re worrying about not finding a job or not getting an offer, relax. If you’re confident you did the best you could, you should have nothing to worry about. That said, are you doing the best job you can do?
  9. Pay attention to what’s going on. Always know what’s going on in the company, with the company’s clients and the industry as a whole. It makes you much more capable of holding a conversation.
  10. Hold on to winners and sell the losers. If you’re doing well in your current position, keep it going. If it’s an internship, ask for an extension. There will always be the jobs and internships that aren’t as good, so evaluate the situation and if the job isn’t for you, move on.
  11. Take losses quickly and profits slowly. If you don’t get a job or lose your job, move quickly to your next position. Adopt the attitude that there are bigger fish in the sea, and stay optimistic. It might be hard now, but don’t let the economy drag your spirits down.
  12. Stick to your plan. If you have a research-based and well thought out plan, follow through. Learn from your mistakes and fix it for the future.
  13. Be realistic about your tolerance for risk. Spontaneity is great, but be smart about the decisions you are making. Do you want to move to a city just to move when your network is back home and your have career opportunities? Make sure you are thinking things through.
  14. Get good advice, but make your own decisions. Part of being a young professional is learning from your mistakes. Mentors are great, but make sure you are making your own decisions.
  15. Avoid spending the principle. Budget yourself and make sure you aren’t getting yourself into dept. As young professionals, it’s easy to spend a lot, but be smart about what you are spending your money on.
  16. Make money when you’re right. Seek advancement and promotions when you do good work in your company. Always be proactive and don’t wait for the opportunities to come to you.

All in all, those are the principles that I’ve held true during my college career. I’ve applied for a ton of positions. Some I’ve earned, and some I didn’t. Even so, I’m able to pick myself up and move on to the next project with ease. Things happen for a reason, and with a proactive and positive attitude, you’ll see the bigger fish in the ocean.

So what do you think? How else is a career like the stock market? How do you invest in your career?

Photo by eminiforecaster on Flickr.

Filed under: Uncategorized

State of the News Media 2009 and PR

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Last week, Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism published its annual “State of the News Media” report. The title gives a good description of what the report is about, but this year’s report is particularly interesting. I’ll be honest, I work at a newspaper and times really are tough. Walking in downtown East Lansing you’ll find shops that have been there for years are being shut down, and I know this is the case across the country. This is the sixth report, but according to the introduction, it is the “bleakest.” Consider these facts:

  • Newspaper ad revenues have fallen 23 percent over the past year
  • One out of every five journalists working for newspapers in 2001 is now gone
  • Local television revenues fell 7 percent in an election year
  • The number of Americans going online for news jumped 19 percent during the past two years
  • Traffic online for the top 50 news outlets increased 28 percent

So, what do the statistics mean? It means a lot, but here are the six major trends described in the report:

  1. How to finance the newspaper industry is becoming more and more important, yet the solutions are not coming to fruition. The report suggests that the industry is not looking in the right places. In a recent AdAge editorial, the author said media executives are holding on to the idea that the news is a thing – but it really isn’t.
  2. The power is shifting from media institutions to the individual journalist – AKA the mommy blogger next door.
  3. News organizations are not focusing on their audience, they are focused on pushing content to the rest of the Web. Between Twitter, Facebook and other outlets, the media think it’s best to push their content in as many medium as possible. Is it working? I don’t think so.
  4. More media outlets are sharing because they have to – financially, at least. Will there be multiple television outlets in Lansing? Will there be two newspapers in Detroit? How many radio stations are left in Mid-Michigan? These are all things to consider.
  5. Political journalism is on the rise. The 2008 Presidential Election was a time for the media to cover everything related to the election – and beyond. I think we’re still in the honeymoon phase of the election in which everything the new president does is historic. The report discusses how America has become fascinated with “minute-by-minute” updates with politics – cabinet appointments, new bills and updates to the economic situation.
  6. The press was less of an “enterprising investigator” and more reactive and passive. Of course, the Freep reporting on Kwame Kilpatrick is an exception to that, but there is less and less investigative journalism going on. This is mainly because reporters don’t have time – after all, deadline was yesterday.

The full report can be viewed here.

There’s no way to put it softly – traditional journalism is not doing so well. I’m not going to write about the state of the media industry right now, but I think it’s an especially important time for public relations practitioners. Students are taught the media is one of the most important parts of the job, but because this industry is shrinking, PR practitioners need to get creative and innovative. Online media rooms are one alternative to lack of traditional media coverage, and David Meerman Scott suggests that PR people should recognize all kinds of people, not just the media, visit an online media room.

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Our PRSSA Faculty Advisor, Russ White (the man behind the MSUPRSSA YouTube channel) and a University Relations employee, says people are coming to them for stories about MSU – he doesn’t have to pitch. Check out the MSU news site here; I also took a screenshot. It has stories, people, multimedia, podcasts and subscription capabilities. Their news site is just like a newspaper’s Web site. I don’t want to speak for them, but I think this is directly responsible for the shrinking media. MSU will always have a story to tell, no matter if the media will be there to cover it. These online media rooms make the PR job a lot easier if you take out the pitching component.

Because public relations practitioners have an increasing level of power when it comes to shaping messages, we need to remember to be honest and transparent. While I might be biased to PRSA, I like the WOMMA code of ethics, too. No matter what code of ethics you adhere to, PR practitioners must recognize they are content providers and need to tread cautiously when creating messages.

What do you think about the state of the media? How is it affecting PR? If this a good or bad thing?

Filed under: Public Relations, Social Media, , , , , , ,

My Spring Break

Last week was MSU‘s spring break and contrary to popular belief, I did take the week off. That’s right – no work, meetings or even PRSSA… OK, just a little bit of that. But still, it was nice to finally have some time off to relax.

With all of the new online tools, it’s easy to get lost in work. And with some big exams/midterms coming up, it’s even harder for me to stay away from the computer. I’ll be the first to admit that it was really difficult, but I’m proud to say I learned some important lessons. More than just learning how to step away, I learned a lot of balance. Here’s how I did it:

  • I limited myself online. I went online for about an hour a day, mostly because I normally steal my neighbor’s wireless and it wasn’t working. Needless to say, it was interesting. Between work and school I end up online a lot, so I had plenty of time to get out and enjoy not being connected to the rest of the world. Even though I missed some earthquakes and scandals, it felt great.
  • I made small goals for each day. Instead of cramming at the end of break (like I normally would have done), I completed a couple of smaller tasks each day. For the bigger projects, I broke them up and tackled pieces each day. By the end of break, I had a lot done. I even stayed offline for the entire day yesterday.
  • I scheduled some personal time. Whether it was getting caught up in the reading for the PR Book Club, or taking a nap or even getting caught up with friends, I managed to make sure I had fun every day. Hey, I do this at school already, but I want to get better at making sure I have personal time every day.
  • I studied without my laptop. And I got a lot of studying done in a shorter period of time. This really shouldn’t be a surprise to me. Normally, I’m rocking some Beethoven symphonies with my e-mail open and have my books/notes open. This week I’ll test this out while I’m studying for these exams.

Overall, it was about making my time more efficient and balanced. My new goal is to focus more on each individual task and not to get distracted with other things. And what do you know, Pick the Brain has the perfect post for me today. I’ll blog about this soon. Next step – turn off my phone. We’ll see if that ever happens.

How do you get away from work and commitments? And how do you balance working on multiple projects at the same time?

Filed under: Social Media, , , ,

Good Media Relations

Last week, I had the chance to listen to Lorri Rishar Jandron, president and CEO of Edge Partnerships. She is a PR practioner who used to work as a reporter, so she has a pretty solid grasp of media relations. She had some solid  tips I wanted to share:

  1. Be honest
  2. Know the subject
  3. Don’t speak off the record
  4. Accept media requests
  5. Stay focused, stay brief
  6. Answer the question you want to answer
  7. Stay cool
  8. It’s quality, not quantity
  9. If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say it
  10. When all else fails, return to #1

I feel that media relations is one of the most difficult parts of PR to teach. From my experience, I have seen that the best of kind of media relations occurs not on a cold call or when working down a huge list of contacts. It occurs over time through mutually beneficial relationships between PR practitioners and journalists. But how do you teach that in a classroom? And how do you teach good media relations through a 12-week internship? I think starting with the basics and learning as you go is the best kind of approach. Also, I like the Catching Flack blog – it has some pretty good media relations tips.

phone

As far as principles to remember, here’s what I’ve come up with: Good media relations starts with attitude. If you have a couple of reporters to call, make sure you don’t rush the calls and thoroughly review the material you’re pitching. Keep your cool and don’t get annoyed. Any position that requires a lot of phone time is really helpful in media relations and in your PR internship, especially a sales position.

After you figure out how to develop a good attitude, becoming an expert in the appropriate industry is important. Chances are, if you’re on the phone with the reporter talking about a news release, they will probably want information that’s not on the release. Keep up with the appropriate industry publications and news and you should be able to hold your own and answer questions. I also like to have a list of the key messages right next to me just in case.

One other thing to remember is the fact that newsrooms across the country are shrinking. Journlists are getting cut left and right, and beat reporters aren’t necessarily experts in that industry. Reporters like to say their deadline was yesterday (with pretty much everything they do), so they are extremely crunched for time. This is such a great opporutnity for PR practitioners to step in and help out, btu also keeping in mind what each media outlet sees as news. For more commentary on the shrinking newsroom, check out a post by Mike Cherenson on PRSAY.

During my internships, I had the chance to do a lot of media relations. I made some mistakes and had some shining moments, but I would never get on the phone and treat a journalist like crap. Too many times I’ve seen articles that talk about “dealing” with the media. Seriously, deal with the media? Lorri talked about this and how she will never say she “deals” with the media. They’re not stupid and they have their own job to do. Part of our job as PR practitioners is to work with them and help them with their job. By saying part of a job is to “deal” with the media, it’s pretty much demeaning their profession and that’s a bad attitude. PR folks work with the media, and it should be left as that.

For me, it brings up the question: are we being trained to hate the media? I don’t think so, but I think new student PR practitioners have a very unrealistic perception of what real media relations is. Getting solid experience in working with the media will help you prepare for a career in public relations.

What else? Sure, it’s easy for me to comment about media relations education, but what do you think is the best way to learn media relations? Any tips for students or new practitioners?

Photo by mezarc on Flickr.

Filed under: Professional Development, Public Relations, , , , , , , ,

Recap of NMDL

If you haven’t heard me brag about my New Media Drivers License class yet, here’s a post that will do a lot of bragging. It’s been a great nine weeks and I’ve learned so much about new media and how to use it. Each topic, whether it was Google AdWords or search engine optimization, took a lot more than reading the assignment description. I had to research and practice these new online tools. I learned a lot, but I also realized how much more I have to learn. I plan to continue my new media education through this blog.

Overall, I learned that the traditional public relations principles are the same online, too. This goes along with the new age of public relations – our generation needs to balance their knowledge of tradition methods with new skills. You can’t just know Facebook and studying cases from 1984 isn’t completely helpful either. The industry is changing quickly and by staying on the forefront, you’re offering high value to your clients or company.

Here is what I plan to present to my class when we meet again on March 21. I’m going to primarily focus on strategy vs. tactics. I blogged about this earlier and it still keeps me thinking. I’ll then talk about four main areas that I think are so key:

  • Creating a personal brand online. What are the rules of showing your personality? What social networks should you be on? How do you stay consistent?
  • Ethics in social media. What are the lines ethics in new media? How does ghostwriting play in social media? How does ethics play into your brand?
  • The power of an offline network. We’re good at making friends online, but how do you transfer that to an offline network?
  • Continuing your education. Why continue your blog? What should you be doing now?

We’re also reading Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds. It’s pretty intriguing and I’m hoping to refine my presentation skills before the final class. Whether you’re in advertising, PR, marketing or other fields, you’re probably going to be doing some presenting now and then. Check it out – it’s a pretty quick read.

In the next couple of weeks, I’ll be preparing a slide show and will definitely be posting it. Stay tuned. Until then, please feel free to comment on what you think I should include in my presentation.

Filed under: New Media Drivers License, Public Relations, Social Media, , , , , , ,

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