January associate of the month

By Smantha Caulfield                                                                                                                                                                         Associate, ImPRessions account

Between classes, participating in OU History Association, PRSSA, and interning with the Athens County Historical Society and Museum, it is no question that Brittney Venturella is a busy student. However, she still finds the time be an active and successful member of ImPRessions. For this reason, she is the Impressions January Associate of the Month!

Originally from Wapakoneta, Ohio, Venturella is a sophomore majoring in History and Journalism. Her sequence in Journalism is public relations, but for a while she was unsure of what her sequence would be. Venturella joined ImPRessions in hopes of learning more about public relations and gaining practical experience and networking.

Venturella is an account associate for the University Libraries account. Currently, the account is working on their PR plan. Their goal is to raise awareness about the library and its services among Ohio University students.

Venturella is benefiting from her experience with ImPRessions in many ways. “I have learned how to interact better with the public. I am currently learning how to make a PR plan and also how to blog,” she said. Venturella helped promote the Archive Show homecoming weekend and passed out fliers when a local artist came to speak at the Library. She also will be writing an entry for Alden Library’s blog soon.

When she is not busy with school, Venturella enjoys hanging out with her friends, attending OU basketball games, and listening to music. As for her future goals, Venturella explains, “I actually do not have a dream job in mind just yet. I want a job that will mix my passion for history and my love for journalism. Recently, I have thought about non-profit PR at a museum.” Whatever the future holds for Brittany Venturella, ImPRessions is very proud to have her as a member.

Cardinal Health account spreads awareness about prescription drug abuse

The work of the Cardinal Health ImPRessions account was featured in today’s edition of The Post, Ohio University’s student newspaper. The team has begun implementing the GenerationRx campaign, an effort to raise awareness about the dangers of prescription drug abuse.

Be sure to check out the article and be on the lookout for more details on the GenRx campaign.

ImPRessions gains M.J. Clark as new professional adviser

By Rebecca Reif                                                                                                                                                                                Associate, ImPRessions account

Furthering their efforts to be recognized as one of the top student-run public relations firms in the nation, Ohio University’s ImPRessions is excited to announce a new professional adviser to lead them on the right track. M.J. Clark, a familiar face to the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism and an encouraging mentor to Jschool students, will serve as the firm’s professional adviser.

ImPRessions welcomes new professional adviser M.J. Clark

“I’m incredibly excited to be asked to serve as the professional adviser for ImPRessions,” said Clark. “The firm has an excellent reputation, and I am eager to lend my expertise to help the firm’s members continue to succeed.”

Having worked in communications and public relations for more than 20 years, M.J. Clark has a plethora of knowledge and experience pertaining to both fields. To highlight some of Clark’s academics, she has a master’s degree from The Ohio State University in organizational communications and a bachelor’s degree from Ohio University in journalism, public relations sequence. After graduation, Clark has since had a successful career. She is president of M.J. Clark Communications, a communications consulting business that focuses on public relations, marketing and advertising, and is a leadership consultant for Integrated Leadership Systems, a leadership and team building company in Columbus. She is accredited in public relations through PRSA and was named president of the Central Ohio PRSA chapter in 2005. When she’s not working in Columbus, Clark currently speaks at numerous PRSSA and Jschool events, and was previously a visiting professor at Scripps.

“Recognizing her involvement with PRSA and PRSSA, along with her successful career in the PR field, M.J. Clark is the ideal professional adviser for our firm,” said ImPRession’s VP of administration, Nicole Bersani. “I am looking forward to learning from her valuable PR expertise and establishing a stronger professional network for our firm.”

Clark’s duties as a professional adviser to the firm will include mentoring the firm’s management team, reviewing the firm’s work and supporting the firm’s client base. All ImPRessions members are encouraged to contact her, ask her for advice and establish a professional network with their newest member of the team, M.J. Clark.

Up Til Dawn is on the Move

By Amanda Stefanik                                                                                                                                                                Associate, OHIO Performing Arts Series

Up Til Dawn account members have been working hard throughout fall quarter to plan, promote, and publicize their upcoming event to raise awareness about St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

During fall quarter, account members primarily focused on planning OhioMoves. OhioMoves is Up Til Dawn’s letter-sending party, which will take place on Feb. 27. Account members have been making contacts to host or perform at the event.

Another area that Up Til Dawn focused a large amount of time on fall quarter was the creation of a YouTube video to publicize OhioMoves.  Up Til Dawn co-account executive Colleen Veeley said the account members are creating the video with a specific goal in mind. “Our goal has been to create a YouTube video that will inspire performers at the event and people who are choosing to sign up as a team,” Veeley said.

The account members have recorded four entertainers for the video, one of them being the OU Tapcats. The Up Til Dawn members are currently working on editing the video, which is set to be completed by week four of winter quarter.

The account members also worked to raise awareness for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital by passing out “50 Names Fast” forms. The form is for people to write addresses of 50 friends and family members. Then, those people will be sent a letter asking them to donate to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Up Til Dawn members have continued to plan for OhioMoves over winter intersession. “Over the break, team members are contacting national companies for sponsorship of the event,” Veeley said. “Since we are communicating with them earlier, I expect more donations to St. Jude.”

The account members have a lot lined up for winter quarter. Veeley said that it will be their “busiest and most important quarter.” Along with launching the YouTube video for OhioMoves, the account members will continue to promote it.

After the video launches they will focus on the OhioMoves event itself by trying to register as many teams as possible. Veeley said, “Our goal is 200 people and we will be raising money for a prize for the best performer at the event.”

Clients: Wait, We Have to Manage that Relationship, too?

By Bryan Blaise

Editor’s note: Bryan Blaise is a graduate of the University of South Florida and is currently a senior account executive at GolinHarris Chicago.

So your professors have likely spent hours on theories for managing public perceptions, communication campaigns and possibly even your senior management  (if you’re pursuing a business minor or double major). However, one critical relationship is largely overlooked in the classroom — the client.

While agency life isn’t a requirement for a successful public relations career, many practitioners spend some part of their time within a global or boutique agency setting. And serving multiple clients successfully is a skill that can always be improved, like writing. Doing it well early on in your career is one way to quickly increase your responsibility, skill set — and paycheck.

Here are some insights I’ve learned over the past four years working with clients at AT&T, McDonald’s and other major corporations and non-profits. Practice them now at ImPRessions or outside internships, and set yourself on an even faster path to success for your clients and your career.

1. Presentation and Packaging

As junior staff, client interaction and management typically starts on projects and is largely supervised. Yet here is your chance to shine. Take a look at how documents and account communications (typically e-mails) are currently submitted. Are they as polished and professional as possible? Taking the extra time to submit your project’s work in brand-appropriate templates with pre-written correspondence your client can simply cut and paste goes a long way. We live in a visual world, one where even a simple color treatment and company logo gives your project’s everyday materials greater attention from clients and supervisors.

2. To-Do Lists and Order Taking

While prioritizing and efficient time management are paramount to surviving agency life, to-do lists can also become detrimental to junior account staff’s client management. Nothing requires that your client be strategic. Simply executing against a million client requests (or more senior staff members’ for that matter) makes you an order-taking worker bee, not the strategic counselor you’re working toward. Always take the time to examine a request within the context of the broader business/brand goals or contractual scope of work. If it’s not strategic or less of a priority than originally described, immediately bring it up with your supervisor and work on helping your client reprioritize or scrap the request.

3. Counseling from the Cube, Not Couch

Once you have regular e-mail and phone interactions with clients, it is critical that you’re continually providing sound strategic counsel. Sometimes this can be prepared with senior account leaders prior to a call or meeting. Other times, you’ve got to step up to the plate and deliver your solid perspective alone from your cube. While this is most difficult when you disagree with a client’s request or approach, simply engage in dialogue around the issue and provide alternative solutions. Again, they’re paying you for counsel AND execution, not just the latter. It’s best to always recap these discussions and final decisions in an e-mail to your client, copying relevant managers and team members.

4.  Connecting the Dots

Beyond bringing your client perspectives and insights from the industries in which they operate or influence, sometimes client management requires connecting the dots within their own organizations. Especially on large account teams, you may hear of other departments’ plans or programs that could benefit or hinder your client’s. Speak up and suggest a meeting for all agency and client parties to get on the same page. You’ll quickly gain the respect of your client, colleagues and other clients with whom you don’t even support. Always remember to loop in senior account managers, who can engage agency thought leaders and provide their support on major initiatives.

5. Knowing Your Client Personally

Clients, just like your first grade teacher, go to the grocery store and have lives outside of work, too. When appropriate, try to find out their interests and background. Share yours, as well. While you should always remain professional in communication and action, developing a friendly relationship with your client beyond a project’s execution is critical.

Lasting ImPRessions

By Kylie Whittaker                                                                                                                                                                               Associate, Athens County Humane Society

Rustling through my things in my cramped dorm room, the nerves began to set in. I had already attended the larger ImPRessions meeting during which we were introduced to the many accounts. Luckily I was placed into my first choice, the Athens County Humane Society. Now, I was on my way to the first meeting with my fellow Humane Society account members, not at all knowing what to expect.

I was the fourth or fifth person to enter the room. I was apprehensive, nervous, excited and unsure if I was ready to embark on this task I had brought upon myself. It was the beginning of my first quarter at Ohio University and my first experience with a student organization. Needless to say, it was new ground.

By the time the meeting began there were about twelve students sitting around a square table. We introduced ourselves, shared some personal history, and then tossed around some ideas of how we could most effectively execute our tasks throughout the quarter. As the meeting took shape, my nerves eased and excitement took over. We were all here, working together for one of the best student-run public relations firms in the country, and it was going to be a great experience.

Throughout fall quarter, my account helped plan the ACHS Centennial Celebration, a Halloween event for Friendly Paws Pet Supplies and Grooming and began work on the ACHS calendar. Our weekly meetings laid out our tasks to be completed for the next meeting.

Each member was given a job title, and mine was Multimedia Director. My job was to run the ACHS YouTube account, where we plan to post “Pet profiles” of animals in need of adoption. I took pictures at both of our events and wrote blogs for the ACHS website. Account members also took turns writing press releases which was a first-time experience for most. I was getting my first taste of real-life public relations and it was only my first quarter with ImPRessions. (Check out the ACHS YouTube channel, set to be launched winter quarter 2011.)

Going to college to get an education is a funny thing. The degree is what we are after, but in the end, it is experience that gets us ahead. Plenty of experience is readily available on the Ohio University campus, waiting for anyone who has the initiative to explore it.

ImPRessions is not a class room, lecture hall and does not involve note taking. It is action, networking and real public relations work. I not only got a sense of what my career in PR could be, but I also gained an irreplaceable foundation on which I am building my public relations skill set.

One extremely valuable aspect of ImPRessions, and any student organization for that matter, is the interaction between the students involved. Within ImPRessions, I met some of my closest friends and fellow aspiring Scripps applicants. Without these people, applying to one of the best journalism schools in the nation would have been terribly intimidating.

My interaction with Journalism school students and those planning to apply brought a confidence in myself and the choices I was making. I have no doubt that joining ImPRessions was the best choice I made fall quarter of 2010, and the personal and tangible benefits are more than I could have imagined.