My New York Moment

IMG_2517Last winter, I found myself at a crossroads—an extremely busy one. So busy, in fact, that if I stood still for just ten seconds longer, I may have been run over by the relentless taxicab drivers speeding every which way.

I was in New York City, wearing a wide-eyed, open-mouthed look on my face and gripping an oversized transit map as if someone might snatch it from my hands at any minute. 

On a tight schedule, I bounced around the city from one public relations agency to the next with my PRSSA peers (note: wear sneakers, not heels, when commuting via subway). This year, a small group of us took on the Big Apple for the annual networking trip to meet with public relations professionals from six different agencies.

While I soaked up all the tricks, tips and takeaways I could, one particular, but simple, piece of advice made me pause: be uncertain + be unlikely = never be bored.

That’s when I started to think.

A couple months before, I was offered a public relations internship with the Miss Universe Organization in New York City during Fall Semester 2013.  Although I had my eye on this specific opportunity since freshmen year, I was hesitant to accept the offer.

I knew the internship would be more than valuable and worthwhile, but I didn’t have answers to the questions shooting through my mind. Where would I live and how could I afford it? How would I navigate my way around a city I hardly knew? What would it be like to live completely alone, nine hours away from family and friends? And, the most difficult of all, was I willing to give up part of my final year at Ohio University, in a town I had grown to love with the people I cared for most?

I was certainly uncertain, but maybe that was the beauty of it all. Instead of embracing the obvious, why not take the road less traveled?

By placing myself in uncomfortable, unfamiliar situations, I’ll make mistakes and grow from them, figure out how to adjust and then improve, explore new ideas, places and people and learn from my experiences.

Spending the semester in New York City and traveling to Moscow, Russia for the Miss Universe Pageant is far from what I imagined I’d be doing my senior year, but it’s an opportunity I might not ever have again.

Unlikely? Check.

Although I don’t suggest having an epiphany in the middle of the street, at that moment, I realized it was time to stop questioning and to start packing.

Just four weeks away from starting my new internship, I couldn’t be more excited to dive in and find out what’s ahead.

As for the last part of the equation, I have no doubt the flying cabs will always keep me on my toes.

-Katie Grady is a senior studying strategic communications with specializations in business and political science. Follow her adventures in NYC at @kaitgrady.

Making Your Press Release Go the Extra Mile

Extra MileWriting press releases are certainly not the most glamorous thing you’ll do as a PR professional, but they are essential. Whether you’re working for an agency, doing PR for a particular company or working for a non-profit, you’re destined to write a press release, or 10, or 50. A press release is an important step towards a successful public relations campaign. Follow these tips to make your press release stand out.

1.  Write a killer headline

If you don’t have a catchy, appealing headline your press release probably won’t be read in today’s cluttered media space. Where should you look for headline ideas? The New York Times? Brilliant scientists who work for NASA? Actually, turn to copy writers for gossip and entertainment magazines. Why? They have about three seconds and a few words to attract your attention in the grocery checkout line. So, think back to the last time you picked up a magazine waiting in line at the store. What made you pick it up? Use that same attention-drawing technique to write a headline for your press release that will make your reader stop and actually read it.

2. Bring the heat early

In the same way that you zone out within the first couple minutes of your grandma telling you an in-depth story about her mom’s infamous apple pie, your reader tends to lose interest after the first sentence. That is, if your headline was good enough. Reporters are busy so tell them what they NEED to know within the first sentence. Include important points within the first paragraph.

3. Personalize it with good quotes

Quotes are like mini-stories that add a human element to your press release. Including a quote that reflects the significance of your product or event can tug on the reader’s emotions and leave them wanting to know more. If your quote is good enough, they might actually use it directly in their story. Be careful not to include too many quotes or extremely lengthy quotes. Make sure your chosen quote means something and isn’t just a filler.

4. Include hard numbers

Quotes can support your reader’s emotions but including hard numbers is what they really want to see. Support your argument with statistics, percentages and trends that will make your product or event look good. Don’t use colorful language that will confuse the reader and cloud the most important information. Make your argument, state the facts and back them up with numbers.

5. Know your reader

You wouldn’t want to pitch the new McDonald’s double decker cheeseburger to Shape Magazine. Make sure you know your target audience. Do some research and tailor each press release you send out to that particular media outlet. What do they value? What types of stories have they already published? What is their writing style? Being more specific with your audience will garner better results.

Follow these helpful and easy tips the next time you need to write a stand-out press release!

-Carly Damman is a senior studying strategic communications. Find her at @CarlyDamman.

 

 

 

Do I Take the Unpaid Internship or Not?

If you’re a current college student (especially a PR student) then you’ve definitely heard the debate about unpaid internships. It’s been all over the news especially after the “Black Swan” scandal. Are they legal? How can employers get away with it? The debate never ends and court cases trying to fight unpaid internships keep popping up. Unpaid Internships are one of the top things that is searched on Google:

GoogleAlthough I agree that in some instances unpaid internships should definitely be illegal, especially if you’re doing nothing but grunt work and getting coffee or running errands, there are positive benefits as well. I am currently in an unpaid internship and although it sucks to be broke, I CHOSE to take this on because having experience at an agency was better than just sitting at home or working a summer job that had nothing to do with PR.

With that being said here are three positive benefits to unpaid internships:

1. Unpaid experience is better than no experience.  Having three unpaid internships on your resume is better than having zero internships at all. An internship is about the learning experience, shadowing and mentoring. Whether your internship is paid or not you are still learning something valuable and adding to your resume and portfolio.

2. Unpaid internships can be more hands-on. Often time’s internships are unpaid because you are working at a smaller company that can’t afford to pay their interns. This means that you may be able to get more hands-on experience and participation since there is a smaller staff.

3. It shows that you’re serious. We all have to start at the bottom and although it sucks, everyone has to do it. If an employer notices that you did one or two unpaid internships and worked really hard, then they are going to see that you really care about this field and that you are dedicated.

If you are planning to take an unpaid internship here is some advice:

  • Remember that it is YOUR choice to take on an unpaid internship so don’t complain about not getting paid if you knew that going in. If you really need money then get a part-time job on the side or apply for scholarships while you’re interning.
  • Research the company before you decide to take the unpaid internship. If you see or hear that their interns only get coffee and file papers then that’s probably not where you want to intern. But if people are talking about how much experience they got, that’s a different story.
  • Although an internship is unpaid you still might get a small stipend. Most unpaid internships will still give you a travel stipend or reimburse you for driving to an event or maybe a lunch stipend. My internship gives us a small stipend each month for traveling so this might be something to look into!

Overall, remember that internships are a learning experience and they might not always be great, but in the end you come out with greater knowledge and an expanded skill set.

To read more on surviving unpaid internships check out this Fox Business story: http://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2013/07/05/how-students-can-survive-unpaid-internship/ .

-Cidnye Weimer is a junior studying strategic communications with a minor in business administration and a Global Leadership Certificate. Check her out at @CidnyeWeimer.

 

Inside a Nonprofit Campaign

Non ProfitI’ve done PR for a nonprofit for the past two years and in my opinion, the main difference between a nonprofit campaign and a brand campaign is that you aren’t selling a product. In the nonprofit world, the main goal of a campaign is to help fulfill the mission.

When you are creating a campaign for a brand you are focusing on selling that product or products, while representing the company’s message. You would focus on outreach, social media, brand awareness, product awareness, media coverage and customer satisfaction. With a nonprofit campaign your main focuses are community outreach, social media, mission/brand awareness and media coverage. Depending on your campaign, another focus for a nonprofit would be donations because nonprofits run mostly on donations and grants.

The mentalities of both types of campaigns also differ. A nonprofit’s campaign really is about making a change and fulfilling the nonprofit’s mission. The mentality of brand campaigns is making an impression on someone to buy the product. I have created two campaigns for the nonprofit I work for and both keep in mind the mission of the nonprofit. If I was working for a retailer, the mission of the company would always be present but not the main focus of each campaign. You’re selling products and the message behind them, not just the message like you would with a nonprofit campaign.

Deadlines are also different in the nonprofit world. Work need to be done but the expectation of waiting longer for things to be completed is normal, such as how waiting for approval, grant or donation money, etc. slows down the process. It takes longer for a nonprofit campaign to take off, especially if the non-profit is newer. Whereas a brand campaign has strict deadlines and those deadlines must be followed. It’s make or break for brand campaigns.

Nonprofit campaigns always strive to make change, brand campaigns strive to make impressions. The two are different but both relate to each other in strategy and tactics. A nonprofit’s campaign will always fill your heart with emotion, while a brand campaign will easily empty your pockets.

-Kelly Hayes is a junior strategic communications major with a specialization in German and a Global Leadership Certificate. Follow her at @kmshayes.

 

 

4 Ways to Make Instagram Meaningful for Your Brand

InstagramInstagram has pretty impressive statistics: over 130 million monthly active users, 16 billion total photos shared, 1 billion daily likes and 45 million photos per day. The numbers are only growing now that the owner, Facebook, has thrown video into the mix, crushing Vine in the process.

People with really interesting cups of coffee aren’t the only ones using Instagram; 54% of brands are on the site with 25% posting at least one photo a week. According to Simply Measured, the brands that have adopted Instagram as a platform in August 2011 have seen month-over-month growth, creating a huge gap between them and other brands that are not on the social site.

Here are a few tips on how to use Instagram for YOUR brand:

1. Get your followers involved

Put the social back into social media and interact with your fans. Ask them to share their own content and then #regram it or create contests to engage your audience. The brand Starbucks is a good example of a social brand. It says right in their Instagram bio to tag photos with #Starbucks, and over 3.5 million people have done so. Starbucks then shares the photos on their Instagram and Facebook pages to finish off the social loop.

2. Show how your product is made

This can apply to pretty much any brand. Show a t-shirt getting printed, someone roasting coffee beans or the creation of an engine. Take little snap shots of the product from start to finish and let the fans see just how much love goes into your product. Louisville Slugger does a good job of this. As you scroll through their Instagram photos you’ll see a block of wood, an unfinished baseball bat, a worker dipping the bat in color and then a major leaguer hitting a homerun with Louisville Slugger in hand. 

3. Give people a behind the scenes look

When people think they are getting an exclusive look at something, they will continue to come back for more. And if you put those exciting buzz words like “first look”, “exclusive” or “behind the scenes”; you’re doing even better. Burberry does a great job at giving fans an exclusive look. Their Instagram features images and videos from backstage at fashion shows, photo shoots and even the making of their collection.

4. Show the company culture

Give your fans a glimpse into your world and share your brand’s voice. Show them who your employees are, what your office looks like and even what snacks your team is having during break. If you let people in to your world they will better connect, engage and stay! Urban Outfitters does a great job of showing off their brand’s culture. The chill, down-to-earth vibe of their Instagram pictures has captured fans and gotten Urban Outfitters almost 850,000 followers.

As you can see, the social site can be used for more than filtered pictures of food and sunsets, it can be used as a platform for brands to engage with fans and show people what a company is all about. Images speak louder than words, so pick up your IPhone and start Instagram-ing some ‘like’ worthy images for your brand.

-Angela Martin is a senior studying strategic communication. Follow her on Twitter @_angelamartin.

 

An Entertaining Entertainment Internship

Receiving the opportunity to work at an entertainment agency this summer has opened my eyes to the entertainment industry and photo (1)I am now a dedicated fan of the Kardashians (I still don’t know if I am proud of this or not). I am interning in Cleveland with the Talent Group and their office is located right outside the city, and by right outside I mean I could walk four blocks and be in the heart of Cleveland.

It’s odd that I decided to take this internship because I have never had an interest in the entertainment industry. I’m not the typical girl that watches E! Network all the time, nor have I seen all of the must-see chick flicks (although, I do love a Nicholas Sparks movie).

In late spring, I landed this internship as a junior agent intern. My duties consist of answering phones, getting lunch and calling our talent. Some days are slow and some days I have to come in early and leave late.

After working here this summer, I think experience in the entertainment industry is crucial to any field of PR you may want to enter. Knowledge in the entertainment world is something I never would have imagined being important to a professional that didn’t want to go in to entertainment.

So far, I have learned the ins and outs of working with real talent including actors, models and voice over talent. People will come in to audition and we must keep their confidence level up with motivational talks and compliments. We also assemble their wardrobe for them.

The entertainment world is different from the typical PR world mainly because you are working with individuals instead of clients. Although our office manager handles our clients (clients book our talent), most of the employees here work directly with the talent. This can be stressful because the talent can be very hard on themselves while auditioning or modeling. Our job is to make sure they know they are doing great.

As a junior agent intern, I call most of the talent and let them know about upcoming auditions we have booked them. I tell them what to wear, schedule them and let them know their scripts. The entire office must work together if we want to stay organized.

Experience in the entertainment world can give you a lot of insight into what the real world is like.

Some talent come in and expect special treatment and others want to be treated like a normal person, even though they are booking thousand-dollar jobs on a weekly basis. The stereotype is true for some; actors and models can be a little stuck-up. For the most part, I work with some really talented and sweet people. After all, these people are entertainers. Most of them are very personable. Watching some be so friendly and others so rude has showed me how important it is to be extra nice so you give a great first impression.

In the PR world, having a grasp on the current trends in entertainment is crucial, even if you plan on doing political PR. Having a background in an entertainment agency not only provides you great connections, but it teaches you the ins and outs of scheduling, producing and managing your time.

My advice? Intern for an entertainment agency, paid or unpaid. You won’t regret it and you will come out of it with valuable experience.

-Meagan Dixon is a senior graduating a year early and studying strategic communications with a minor in business and a sociology specialization. Follow Meagan at @MeagDixon.

Paid Fall PR Internship in NYC

Current is a consumer public relations agency based in New York City and is looking for a PR intern for fall 2013. Heather Bartman, former CEO of ImPRessions and recent Ohio University graduate, interned with Current summer 2012. Details of the internship are included below. Please contact Heather Bartman if interested at heatherbartman@gmail.com.

Current:

We are looking for enthusiastic, self-starters who are good multi-taskers and are organized. It is a very hands-on role where you will be integral to the team and be given the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of PR. Core tasks include writing, researching, event planning, compiling media lists, pitching client stories to media, and participating in creative brainstorms.

The internship is 3-6 months, paid at $12.00/hour and candidates must be available to work Monday – Friday 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. College students and recent graduates are welcome to apply. Ideal start date is August 15th (however, this is flexible).