Stay Connected

By Nicole Bersani
VP, Administration

Every public relations student has heard about networking, but it is not always just about grabbing that business card at PRSSA meetings. It is about getting the person’s contact information, e-mailing them sometime after you meet, possibly getting coffee, asking them for advice, keeping in contact and hopefully getting connected to others.

Think that it’s too much work?

Here is my story: Once upon a time, I was at a usual Monday night PRSSA meeting in 2008 and met Shannon Stucky, an Ohio University alumna and an assistant vice president for FD’s (formerly known as Financial Dynamics) Special Situations practice in New York City. I grabbed one of her business cards, talked with her for a few seconds after the meeting, and sent her a thank-you e-mail for answering my questions. We kept in touch and she connected me to Alexandra Barkulis, an associate for FD’s Corporate Communications practice in Chicago. After our chapter visited Chicago for a networking trip (ironically), I stayed an extra day (since I’m from the suburbs north of Chicago) and connected with Alexandra. As I learned more about FD and developed a strong interest in its firm, I decided to apply for a summer internship, and was later hired as an intern. I have assembled solid application materials—résumé, cover letter, portfolio, recommendations, writing/design samples—but I’d like to think that the network I have established and the supportive professionals I have met are ultimately what led to my receiving an offer for the corporate communications internship at FD in downtown Chicago.

Networking could not only help for future internships or jobs, but it can also help with everyday opportunities. For example, what if you need some guidance on a PR plan, campaign, press release, crisis or event for your ImPRessions account? Or what if you need some advice on how to deal with a difficult client or how to best reach your audiences? The contacts you have made can be valuable and inspirational support. Many of the accounts have professionals that students can reach out to, and if it’s not a direct client, then feel free to open questions to pros you know that are related to your account’s field (health care, non-profit, etc.).

Tips for easy networking:

  • Keep all business cards (even ones from your student peers) in a business card holder in the order that you received them.
  • Write on the back of the card when/where you met with a little added info about them (OU alum, etc.).
  • If they do not have a business card to give you, still keep their information by writing it down on a note card and filing it in your holder.
  • E-mail and/or tweet them questions/advice once in a while or ask if they want to meet for coffee.
  • Keep them updated on what you are doing and learn as much as you can about them and their job.
  • It is not a one-way street: be a valuable contact for others as well. If you hear something that would be useful to a professional, co-worker in ImPRessions or OU professor, let them know.

You can’t do it all

By Ashley Showen
VP, Operations

As overachieving Scripps students, we tend to think that we need to be the best at everything. Our competitive nature drives us to overwork ourselves into oblivion, or at least get very little sleep.

What we must realize is that there is no possible way we can be experts in all aspects of our field. It is inconceivable that on top of taking 16 or more credit hours, working and attending meetings for the inevitably large number of organizations we belong to that we could ever stay up on all the latest trends and technology.

While it is great to have a broad knowledge base of what is going on in the industry, it is beneficial to choose a few areas in which to specialize. Employers and clients will be more impressed if you know one topic inside and out rather than knowing just the basics of a bunch of different topics and sectors of the industry.

If you decide you have a knack for sports and want to get into sports PR, become an expert in all aspects of sports. If you decide you want to get into political communications, follow local and national campaigns and get a political communications certificate. If you want to be a social media guru, get certified in Google AdWords or learn everything there is to know about ROI (Returns On Investment) and other analytics.

As we begin the new year with ImPRessions and you start working with your client, become an expert in their fields. Not only will the knowledge help you serve your client to the best of your ability, but it will help you decide what sector of PR you want to go into.

My advice is to find what you are truly passionate about and learn everything you could ever hope to know about it. For me, that has become health care and theater. For both, I try to read about those specific beats in the news and immerse myself in the industries in whatever ways I can.

What are you passionate about?

ImPRessions to make impact in 2010-2011

By R. Devin Hughes

Ohio University students don’t know what is about to hit them next year (though hopefully, with our PR efforts, they will).

Last year, ImPRessions took part in its largest event ever, collaborating with the Black Student Council Programming Board, University Programs Council and Backdrop Magazine to put on the first MAYDAY event, a large outdoor concert featuring artists Clipse and Consequence. It was estimated that more than 800 people  attended. The success of this event opened our eyes to our potential to be a part of major campus and community events, an initiative we plan to continue next year.

The year has not even begun, and already some big ideas are flowing (I have to stress that these are ideas, so don’t yell at me if they are scrapped). Another MAYDAY (Backdrop). A drag show (ButtOut Ohio). A putt-putt tournament in the library (University Libraries). A dance marathon (Up til Dawn). Ohio University students will not be able to avoid the ImPRessions ImPAct next year; we will have our hands in too many fun things.

That’s not the only impact we will make, however. Let’s not forget the pro bono work we do. Raising awareness to the dangers of smoking (ButtOut Ohio). Fighting prescription medication abuse (Cardinal Health). Giving puppies a home (Athens Humane Society). Helping African children receive an education (Empower).

All told, there has never been a better time to get involved with ImPRessions, because our impact will be felt among Athens-wide, nationwide and worldwide audiences next year. By joining our firm, you won’t just be benefitting themselves from valuable PR experience—they’ll be making a difference.

Stand out

Ashley Showen
VP, Operations

Every day in PR can seem like a whirlwind. From answering e-mails to media monitoring to trying to fulfill your client’s every need, there is almost never a moment to spare. With that in mind, we tend to try to get things done as quickly as possible and, as a result, end up taking the “easy way out,” that is, playing it safe in our work.

While it is easy to get into a routine of sending out the same news release to the same media contacts about the same events, those mundane tactics are not going to drive results. In this age of media clutter, news organizations are a lot pickier about what material they run, and if what you’re pitching is boring, it will inevitably get buried into the mass amounts of e-mails they get every day.

In Seth Godin’s book, “Purple Cow,” his main theme is how to make your business, client or organization “remarkable.” While his book is mostly about creating a remarkable product, the themes undoubtedly carry over to how we promote our clients and even how we promote ourselves. His advice that can help a great deal as we approach the beginning of another year with ImPRessions, especially with five new clients on board.

Innovation is the cornerstone of the “new” world of marketing and PR, if it wasn’t already. It does not matter how many phone calls you make, how many press releases you send or how many tweets you crunch out—if you are not offering something that your audiences needs or wants, you can forget about them listening to you.

Godin writes a lot about taking chances and being “outrageous.” Since most PR people are Type A control freaks, this may sound frightening. I know it does to me. But the thing we have to remember is if we never take a leap of faith, we will always wish we had.

So, next year, whether you are just joining us in ImPRessions or are a “veteran,” I challenge you to do something “outrageous,” whether it is implementing an innovative tactic for a client, creating an interactive résumé or making a pitch to your boss at your internship. Stand out.

We have the unique opportunity in Impressions of working with so many different clients who all have very different audiences and needs. The possibilities are endless, so don’t limit yourselves with ordinary ideas. Get inspired!

While passion alone cannot drive your business, it is a very important part. Once you become passionate about what you are doing, being innovative in your campaigns and tactics is that much easier. Show your client up front that you are dedicated, which will make them more likely to trust you when you pitch an “outrageous” idea.

Take the advice of Godin: if you could think of the most outrageous campaign or tactic for your client, what would it be?  Get brainstorming and you’re sure to think of something spectacular.

Presenting the new ImPRessions website!

by R. Devin Hughes, CEO

I am delighted to write the introductory post for the new ImPRessions website, moved over from Blogger to WordPress. Aside from needing to fill out a few biographical segments in our Leadership section, the site is complete and ready for public viewing. As this is a new venture, we would really appreciate any comments and/or suggestions you have for the page; please feel encouraged to comment on this post or e-mail us at This website needs to accurately portray the excellence of our firm, so we welcome all constructive feedback that will help us to do so.

The creation of this new site dates back to last year, when I asked the ImPRessions account to analyze the websites of top-notch PR firms around the country to see what was traditionally done in the field. The team came through, presenting a list of suggestions for the design of a new ImPRessions website as well as producing some sample copy for the pages. Because of the various projects we were involved in,  I pushed the potential creation of the new website to the future, mentally storing the ideas the account members had suggested. Now, with the free time that summer offers, the ideas have become a reality.

Why model ourselves after these top PR firms? Because we are a top PR firm. The firm-wide oversight I had last year as assistant director showed me as much. We have a truly exceptional group of students with extraordinary amounts of enthusiasm, and time after time I heard reviews from clients who were extremely pleased with the work we had done for them. Stepping into the role of CEO, I realized it was time for the entire firm to own its potential.

This new website is a major step in a new way of branding ImPRessions. We are more than just a “student PR firm.” We are a credible, viable and exemplary public relations service. We provide tangible value to any client we take on. Looking at ourselves as just a “student PR firm” only creates psychological limitations within ourselves.

My vision for this firm is to move forward to a place where we are not just a great student PR firm; we are a great PR firm that happens to be employed of students. Re-branding ourselves as such removes the perceived qualitative and geographical limitations of our work; we can, in fact, go anywhere and do anything. This vision began to become reality in the past few months, when we chose to move from nine clients to 13, a 30 percent increase in client base.

We added a company that is #17 on the Fortune 500 (Cardinal Health), two clients that impact, oh, every student at Ohio University (University Libraries and the OHIO Performing Arts Series) and partnered with a firm that is a global leader in public relations (Fleishman-Hillard). Oh, and our work is so highly regarded that we added a client that is only the greatest journalism school on the planet (E.W. Scripps School of Journalism).

As ImPRessions steamrolls forward, we refuse to grow complacent with our already high-quality work or set any limitations on ourselves.  It is an exciting time to be involved with this firm and I cannot wait for next year to begin.

Alas, with only week two of summer vacation set to begin, we will have to settle for a new website for now. There will be blog posts throughout the summer so I encourage you to subscribe to our RSS feed or follow us on Twitter to stay up-to-date. Again, we would really appreciate any thoughts on the new page in the comments section, or e-mail us if you are shy.

With the introductory post complete, and by the powers vested in me by the Public Relations Student Society of America, I hereby pronounce this website open and operational. Happy visiting!